By Henrylito D. Tacio
“Pick a leader who will make their citizens proud. One who will stir the hearts of the people, so that the sons and daughters of a given nation strive to emulate their leader’s greatness. Only then will a nation be truly great, when a leader inspires and produces citizens worthy of becoming future leaders, honorable decision makers and peacemakers. And in these times, a great leader must be extremely brave. Their leadership must be steered only by their conscience, not a bribe.” ― From Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
THIS coming May 9, we will be electing a new president. There are several aspirants but only five are known: Bongbong Marcos, Leni Robredo, Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquaio and Ping Lacson. Who among these will win, no one knows yet.
In addition, we will be voting for a new vice president, twelve sets of senators, a congressman, a governor, a vice-governor, eight provincial board members, a mayor, a vice-mayor, and eight municipal councilors. All in all, we will be writing 35 names!
“A person running for political office is seeking power,” American newscaster David Brinkley once said. “Power as we know it corrupts.”
But on second thought, “politics is funny.” That’s according to F. G. Kernan. “When a man leaves your party and goes over to the other side, he’s a traitor,” he explained. “When he leaves the other party and comes over to your side, he’s a convert.”
At one time, I saw this sign in the car window: “If Con is the opposite of Pro, what is the opposite of Progress?” Well, your answer is as good as mine!
It’s high time for a campaign now. Television, radio, and newspapers are fully loaded with advertisements for those who are running. Social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, are burning with posts, shares, and ads.
Let’s not be too serious about the campaign, though. So, allow me to share a story sent to me by a friend via electronic mail.
So, it came to pass that a powerful senator died after a prolonged illness. His soul arrives in Heaven and is met by Saint Peter at the entrance. “Welcome to Heaven,” says Saint Peter. “Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”
“No problem, just let me in,” says the senator.
“Well, I’d like to but I have orders from higher up,” Saint Peter explains. “What we’ll do is have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”
“Really, I’ve made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven,” the senator says.
“I’m sorry but we have our rules,” replies St. Peter.
And with that, Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator, and he goes down, down, down to Hell. The doors open, and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. Nearby are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him. Everyone is in evening attire and very happy to see him. They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar.
Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly guy and who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that the time flies, and before he realizes it, the senator has to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves while the elevator rises.
The elevator goes up, up, up, and the door reopens in Heaven, where Saint Peter is waiting for him. “Now it’s time to visit Heaven,” he says.
The next 24 hours pass, with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp, and singing. They have a good time, and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by, and Saint Peter returns.
“Well then, you’ve spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now choose your eternity,” Saint Peter tells the lawmaker. The senator reflects for a minute, then answers, “Well, I would never have said it, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in Hell.”
So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator, and he goes down, down, down to Hell. Now the doors of the elevator open, and he is in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. The Devil comes over to him and lays his arm on his neck.
“I don’t understand,” stammers the senator. “Yesterday I was here, and there was a golf course and a beautiful club, and we ate lobster and caviar and danced and had a great time. Now there is only a wasteland full of garbage, and my friends look miserable.
The Devil looks at him, smiles, and says, “Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted for us!”
As politicians campaign, these days, be sure to listen and try to weigh things. Are they telling the truth or just spreading lies? “When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues,” three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist Thomas L. Friedman pointed out.
“Elections belong to the people,” American president Abraham Lincoln once reminded. “It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” He also said: “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”
American veteran newspaper editor and syndicated columnist Carl Riblet, Jr. reminds us of what a politician is: “In these days of the closest scrutiny of the politician, it is fitting that we list what he needs to succeed. Such a creature of the animal kingdom, besides having the ability to butt like a goat and turn like a worm, must have the eyes of a vulture, the memory of an elephant, rocks in the seat of his pants to break the feet of those who kick him, and the reactions of a skunk.”
So, on the 9th of May, choose wisely who you would vote for. Just a reminder from Suzy Kassem, the woman behind Rise Up and Salute The Sun: “To vastly improve your country and truly make it great again, start by choosing a better leader. Do not let the media or the establishment make you pick from the people they choose, but instead choose from those they do not pick.”