I am scared.
I usually like to start out a post with a really cheerful “Hiya” because I always want to be happy and make other people happy as well. But I can’t do that right now because I am truly scared. I’m frightened with what the world has become and how unsafe things just generally feel lately. It seems like the world has just gone crazy nowadays. Just the last week, two separate events shook my world view and has leaked into my personal bubble. This would be the bombing of an Ariana Grande that took the lives of 22 people and something much closer to home, literally. That would be the siege of Marawi, a city in the Philippines, the country that I live in, by a radical extremist group and the subsequent declaration of Martial Law in that part of the country.
The reason I’m writing this post right now because I don’t like being scared. It unnerves me and it just affects me extremely negatively. And this is a fear unlike no other. This isn’t a fear of the dark or from a scary movie or anything because, at least, you can hide away from them. No, this is a fear that the world has become a dangerous place where something can happen to you in a blink of an eye. It’s a fear of being defenseless against something that’s is too big and overwhelming that you cannot stop, no matter how hard to push against it. So I’m writing this in the hopes that I can work out why I feel so helpless because of all of these recent events. Yes, this isn’t going to be a cheerful Robin. This is me seriously trying to work out issues I feel. This isn’t going to be a good or even well written post as I’m just going to put every thought I have about why I’m feeling. It might be as directionless as heck so I apologize in advance if this is just going to be me rambling on about different stuff. Honestly, if anyone doesn’t read this, I’m fine with that. I just want to feel like I’m doing something to “fix” the way I feel right now.
Now, going back to the Ariana Grande bombing and the Marawi siege-slash-Martial Law declaration. These two events shook me to my very core as, while I always knew it was possible, I realized that the world is definitely not a safe place and something bad can happen to you even if you’ve never done anything to anyone. There is always going to be something that can happen to do and there is a strong chance that it could be done to you by another human being just because of the things he believes.
I’m not a big fan of Ariana Grande, actually. But I know she has a lot of fans and a lot of them are really young kids. I read that the youngest casualty of the bombing of her concert was just 8 years old. I remember being that young and not have a care in the world and just doing stuff that I enjoy and wanted to do. At that age, I felt like I had my entire life in front of me. I imagined what my future would be like and what kind of boy I would marry or what kind of mother I would be. But she won’t have that chance and the saddest thing about her death for me is that her life was snuffed out without warning. I can imagine she was super happy to go see Ariana Grande live in concert and she looked forward to that the entire week and the thought of that evening would be her last night. That really hit me hard.
Then the news of the Marawi siege broke. According to news reports, the siege happened because the Philippine army conducted an operation to capture a rebel group leader in the city of Mawari. The rebels took the fighting to the streets and chaos ensued. Schools and churches were set ablaze. Hospitals and the city jailed was invaded. People had to flee the city because of the fighting. And the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, finally declared a state of Martial Law in Mindanao, the huge land mass found in the south of the country.
These would’ve been two isolated cases but they do have a common link of sorts: the terror group knows as ISIS. The terror group has claimed responsibility for the Ariana Grande concert bombing and there is photographic proof of their black flag being raised by the rebels in Marawi during the attack. So it’s reasonable to believe that these two events happening so close together isn’t coincidence. Come to think of it, a lot of the earlier reports of the Marawi siege didn’t mention the Philippine Army’s operation. No, a lot of the initial information that I got on Facebook stated that the group just entered the city like they had the specific purpose to take over the city. In fact, this was all over my Facebook page, with reports of the rebels entering homes and forcing the people living there to recite an Islamic prayer. If they’re unable to do so, they would be killed.
I actually just took a breather from writing this just to look if there were any reports of these alleged home invasions and I actually can’t find anything from any news sites about this. However, I did come across other reports that filled me with dread. There are reports of a priest and the parishioners who has been taken hostage. There is also a report where some civilians who were riding a truck pulled over, tied up and shot dead by the rebels. And there are still going to be stories like this that will come out in the coming days as the siege is still continuing as I’m writing this on Saturday.
But you know what’s the crazy thing of all of this? It’s that everyone has a different opinion on how to handle these incidents. Should we suspend standard policy and protocols in the meantime so that the authorities can expedite the process of actually capturing the people involved but risk atrocities and human rights abuses by the very people that we depend on to protect us? Should we still try to pretend that everything is normal and force the authorities to uphold the current status quo and give the lawless element more opportunities to exploit this? Honestly, I can’t really say what’s the right way to go because… they both sound right to me.
And it’s these varying opinions on how to handle a desperate situation that is even tearing us further apart. In my Facebook alone, I can see my news feed filling up with news articles and status updates from the people that I know saying that anyone that disagrees with them, then they are idiots and stupid. I’ve noticed that things sometimes really get heated over this because everyone thinks they’re right and any contradiction to what they think is the way to proceed is just plain wrong to them.
Some of my friends on Facebook, some of them who I never thought would get so hung up over these kinds of things, have become really obsessed with just talking about these events. They used to post things about their lives, their feelings and their experiences. I used to just pop in on Facebook to and be glad that so-and-so got a promotion or got a new boyfriend/girlfriend and feel happy for them. Or I would see them post stupid things like saying they feel angry, sad, hurt without any explanation so that they can garner sympathy from others. But now? A lot of these people are just busy trying to bolster their side of the story by linking to news websites and other posts that just validate their political views and thoughts and add a snide comment about the “other side.”
And that really frustrates me that these people, these same people who I thought were rational and, more importantly, my friends, would classify other people are their enemy because they don’t agree with their point of view. For example, any time a news report comes up that contradicts their beliefs or ideology, they can easily chalk it up to “yellow” propaganda or label it “fake news” so it doesn’t count. And, if I’m being honest, it’s becoming harder and harder to spot what is “true news” and fake news” now, especially with the prevalence of Facebook and people that just want to spread sensational stories without bothering to fact check or do a little research first.
It’s not just the recent events that’s hare to figure out if they happened or not. Even historical events are now getting cloudy because, apparently, history isn’t based on facts but just the opinions of the winning side. When Duterte declared Martial Law, it echoes a historical event in the Philippines, the very country I was born and live in, wherein President Marcos did the very same thing to allegedly fix the lawlessness that gripped the country way back in 1972, more than 2 decades before I was even born. In school, I learned that Marcos did a lot of shady things as, well, he was given free rein to govern the country as he pleased. But that was then and an opposing view, which many people believe in their hearts to be true, is that Marcos declaring Martial Law was like the start of a Golden Age for the Philippines. And I can’t really say anymore what is true because I have to rely on others to tell me what really happened then since I wasn’t born to experience those events. But what’s a reliable source? Is the information I’m digging up a real declaration of the events that happened then? Or is it just propaganda?
This kind of thinking and fighting is just overflowing to every part of my life now. I’ve heard stories from my co-workers and relatives who have been unfriended and have unfriended people just because they couldn’t agree on what side of the political spectrum they fall on. It’s become really toxic and at the worst possible time as this is the time when we actually need to try to pull together because, well, it certainly seems like the anarchists and lawless elements have the upper hand when it comes to unity.
I guess it’s these two feelings, scared and frustrated, that are really bothering me. But mostly, I feel scared. I’m scared that all of these events as well as the ways everyone is tryng to cope with these situations are just out of my control and directionless. There’s a feeling of hopelessness. I can join the others and figuratively yell and scream at others on Facebook and social media and tell them they are idiots and morons for not coming to my side of the story. But in truth, there’s nothing I can really do about it and there isn’t an easy answer to what’s actually happening. There is no magic wand to wave or fairy godmother so you can wish for all of the bad things to go away and for everyone to just get along. Or, at the very least, be cordial enough to respect another person’s opinion, even if it may contradict your own.
I’m scared that, well, this is the world I’m living in. This is the world that I will be living in for the rest of my life. This is the kind of world that my children will inherit. I will be giving them a world where people just can’t get along with each other and you can’t feel safe anywhere.
This is a world where an 8-year old girl can die because she wanted to see Ariana Grande perform. This is a world where the town you live in can be invaded by an armed group without any warning. This is a world wherein you can’t trust anything you see and hear because it’s fake. This is a world where people would rather tear each other apart in a crisis instead of try to look past our differences and look for compromises. This is a world where you’re either with me or against me; there’s no choice in between. This is a world that isn’t safe and you have to take sides as there is no room for compromise or trying to understand another person’s points and counterpoints.
I am scared. I am frustrated. And I have good reason to be.