EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2021 - 12:00am

How does one find hope in an exceptional time? Even President Duterte seems to be feeling hopeless these days. “We are sinking deeper and deeper,” he said.

But if there is anything this unprecedented period in our lives has taught us, it is that hope comes during the strangest of hours, even in the most mundane moments – the first glimpse of sunlight in the morning, rain splattering on the roof, a gust of wind, the view of the setting sun from a newly opened, elevated road. We also see it in the kindness of strangers, in the smiles of people we encounter along the way, random emails in our inbox or the scent of a lover’s perfume.

Just recently, I found it in the words of Amanda Gorman, the young American poet at US President Joe Biden’s inauguration last month, which more than captured the moment. I was so moved listening to her recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

For how could anyone not be moved by her words? Especially those in search of hope for a better tomorrow – not only for America, but for our very own country as well.

I remember her words again now after President Duterte’s grim message the other night.

“Our economy, my countrymen, is really in bad condition. Imagine, how many people do not have work? The economy of the Philippines is really – in bad shape,” he said.

Duterte is right and on point. So many of our countrymen have lost jobs. Businesses have shut down and the economy, as he said, is in trouble.

But it is important to find hope in these challenging times.

One can find it in businesses that continue to stay afloat, in government officials who are trying their best, in the words of a tycoon who said the worst is over, in a senior citizen billionaire taipan who continues to brave the outside world to do business, in retrenched workers who are still eking out a living.

May we also find it in words.

Amanda, in her bright yellow coat, was a ray of sunshine to a nation – and perhaps the rest of the world – that is facing a very uncertain and complex time.

With her words, Amanda rallied her fellow Americans to be brave enough to embrace hope amid whatever challenges the times have brought to them:

“For while we have our eyes on the future,

history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption

we feared at its inception.

We did not feel prepared

to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter.”

Indeed, as we inherit a world that is so complex, we must not lose hope in wanting to change it and work on a better tomorrow.

At this moment in history, she was no doubt a breath of fresh air in a world consumed by toxic politics, divisiveness and indecency.

We’ve seen these not just in America, but sadly in our very own country as well. Never has Philippine society been so deeply divided by politics than it is now, no thanks to fanatics and fringe groups who find fulfillment in concocting conspiracy theories and in peddling untruths. We are now a nation so divided than ever, and our society’s morals have sunk so low.

This damaging divisiveness and indecency stem from the vindictiveness of our leaders – past and present – and the sycophants around them.

But perhaps, as it is in America, we will one day see the light after the darkness. Let’s keep that hope alive especially in the coming May 2022 elections, as we choose our country’s next leaders.

May Amanda’s words be a stark reminder to each and every one of us that every action or inaction we make now will affect the kind of world we leave behind to the succeeding generations.

This is true not just for our country; it should start with ourselves, our families and just about everything around us. Every decision we make now will impact the lives of our children and our children’s children and so on.

As Amanda said:

“When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid,

the new dawn blooms as we free it.

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

And so, with hope and grace, may we all strive to make the world better than the one bequeathed to us by those who came before. Let’s all search for that light in the quiet and in the dark and, as the young poet said, let’s be brave enough to be it.

With enough courage and hope, we can do so much more – love more, give more, do more. To find hope after all is to feel alive; even the old will feel young again.

Let us heed the beating of our hearts, march toward a brighter purpose and, along the way, let us light the path for others as well.

Iris Gonzales’ email address ishttp://eyesgonzales@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com

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