Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Common sense

Common sense lang. Makakakita ka ba ng any animals na lalaki sa lalaki, babae sa babae? Mas mabuti pa yung hayop. Marunong kumilala kung lalaki, lalaki, o babae, babae. Kung lalaki sa lalaki, babae sa babae, eh mas masahol pa sa hayop ang tao,” so declared Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao (Sarangani).

From his perspective as a pastor and a born-again Christian, Mr. Pacquiao was not only speaking his mind, but is actually preaching what he believes in. However, he seems to have forgotten his stature—both as a global boxing icon, an incumbent congressman and a politician vying for a Senate seat. As a public figure, he can neither simply speak his mind nor spring his fundamentalist beliefs on everyone. What was worse was when he described LGTBs (lesbians, gays, transgender and bisexuals) as “worse than animals”.

As an aspiring senator, he would be looked upon to craft laws that would redound to the benefit of all. As such, he must have an open mind—devoid of discrimination and bigotry. For if he would become a senator of the republic—and the chances are high for this to happen—his constituency would also include LGBTs. And with his pronouncements, he may end up always against LGBT benefits. This of course, hinges on the fact that should he be elected senator, he would attend sessions more than his attendance record at the House of Representatives. And he would then be more useful to his national constituency vis-à-vis his Sarangani performance.

He may have a point, based on his fundamentalist beliefs. Mr. Pacquiao even went to the extent of apologizing for his insensitive words; but also posting a biblical verse calling for the deaths of homosexuals. In this time and age, what he wants is nothing less than a genocide—and his apology rings feeble in the face of what he believes in and what he thinks is the right thing to do. And in this world now so full of hate, his personal bigotry is not helping much.

As other global icons have taken him to task for those insensitive words, Mr. Pacquiao must also understand that others do not share his beliefs. And as much as his freedom to speak his mind is respected, too, he should also always remember that he is no longer an ordinary figure. He is both a national treasure and a global icon. And all his actions and words carry a lot of weight.

If he really wants to contribute to nation-building by becoming a senator, the first thing he needs to do is to purge himself of bigotry. And maybe he could then begin thinking about collective growth that would benefit all regardless of race, religion, beliefs, and—yes—sexual preference.

But then he would also need to attend more sessions. And author a law. That, of course, is common sense.

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