Growing up, meals with my family were like roundtable discussion on politics, current events, and environmental issues. It was a master class on finding my political voice early on, because I learned to stay updated with news, develop evidence-based opinions, and be ready for disagreements and follow-up questions. These skills eventually became useful as a journalist and marine conservationist.
The political climate over the last few months have been exceptionally insane locally and globally. (Kaya pa, 2020?!) I've had to deactivate my social media accounts and stop checking the news to protect my mental health/well-being. I've been having difficult conversations privately instead, and reflecting on silent-shaming, the cancel culture, and performance activism.
A few weeks ago, Bianca invited me, Lynn, and Chely to share our tips on finding our political voices for Paano Ba 'To?! This video also served as a reunion of the podcast we used to host called Coffee Break back in 2013-2014. Here, we share our tips but also contemplate on how and why we've stayed friends despite our different political stands and opinions. For the extended, audio-only version with more chika and LOLs, listen here.
Other lessons I've learned:
To find the center, we must tug at both ends of the line. I internally (okay, sometimes externally) roll my eyes and shake my head at people who hate on extreme activists (i.e., the burn-the-bra, chain-myself-to-a-tree, hunger-striking ones). I try to point out that these extreme activists made it possible for women to vote and go to school, for colored people to go to the same places as white people, and for protected areas on land and sea to survive. The other side of the spectrum ideally helps us put safeguards. Extremists, whether extreme left or right, serve a purpose.
Choose your battles. I've had several people ask me why I didn't/don't post about certain issues. Over the years, I've learned to be discerning on what topics to give my voice and opinion on. My dad used to say, "don't break the silence unless you can improve it." Well, medyo extreme naman yun ano, minsan masaya rin magkwento lang. Haha. But this is a principle I've adopted in finding my political voice. If I'm not going to add value to the dialogue, I'll stay silent or take conversations offline and direct my input to the persons involved in that issue.
Everyone has their own timeline. Don't force them to keep up or catch up with yours. No one wins.
People will be in and out of political positions, but your family will still be your family and your friends will still be your friends -- or so I hope. Before you declare Friendship Over with someone over differing political views, ask if it's worth the possible tension or awkwardness in family reunions or barkada dinners. Sometimes it actually is, but sometimes it's not.