A time to be heroic, to be humble, to pray
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - August 5, 2020 - 12:00am

We will overcome this crisis. I am sure of that. We will prevail. What I am not sure of is how long it is going to take and what it is going to cost us. There are two ways to go from where we are now. Either we make the pandemic longer and costlier for us, or we can slash the time and the cost. It is all up to us, not the virus.

With the pandemic affecting almost every country in the world, there is no shortage of examples to emulate and follow. We can go where we traditionally follow and be like the United States. There, the people are not willing to give up their freedoms in favor of health protocols that can help save their own lives. They do not submit to their leaders. That it is on top of the list in number of cases therefore surprises no one.

Or we can be like, say, Vietnam. There are no superstars and strongmen in Vietnam, just a willingness by everyone to follow their leaders. When their leaders point to a certain direction, everyone follows without question. It is not so much the lack of freedom there as there is an abundance of discipline and a readiness to make sacrifices. That no one there has yet, as of this writing, died of COVID-19 is, matter-of-factly not surprising.

Enter the Philippines. From ranking in the mid-forties in the list of cases at the start of the pandemic, the Philippines is now in the mid-twenties, riding high on American flavored decadence. When temporary gains allow the people an inch of slack in quarantines, they take an arm off protocols and prudence. They go out on a binge. They forget that whatever letters may prefix our predicament, the last letter is still a Q for Quarantine.

Worse, Filipinos seem to thrive on conflict and controversy. Where the times call for unity and sobriety, there the Filipino would bang the drums of discord and wave the flags of blame. Nobody seems to give a damn that when leadership fails, for whatever reason, then we also fail. We are no longer marching to battle armed with the luxury of afterthought. We are in the midst of it.

Our leaders, as good or as bad as they are, need our help, deserve our help. This is no longer the time for recrimination and fault-finding. If our leaders are impaired on one side, go cover for them on that side. If they are making a big mistake along one flank, give him your better idea of holding that flank.

If you hate your leaders' guts, you will have ample time to hate them even more when the war is won. If the war is lost, then there is no need for anyone to go on hating, is there? But for as long as there is this chance, everyone must grab it for the sake of everyone else. This is the time for individual heroism. This is the time to be a hero, even if all it takes is to shut up, be humble, and do what is expected of you as a good citizen.

And do not forget, never, never forget to pray. Pray for strength. Pray for deliverance. Never be so cocky as to think you are not just an infected sneeze away. When you are that close to COVID, better believe that God is even closer than you allow yourself to think. So pray. It is better to pray than to curse, despair, blame, or get angry.

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