NSTP has allowed me to focus on certain things I never really cared about before like student activism or community organizing. It has allowed me to zone in on issues I’ve never even heard of before. I realized that lately, every time I’m left alone with my thoughts, I tend to really think about things and why they should matter to me.
For example, lately, my CWTS work with SAMASA has been focused on student activism in the past; the politics, the community organizing, the drama, etc. We also talked about human rights and we had the opportunity to hear from the different student leaders from SAMASA who fought and stood their ground during Martial Law. They had the courage to sacrifice their lives to protest, to demand that their rights be given back to them, and to organize themselves even when all that was not allowed.
Atty. Susan from SAMASA told us that the things my generation take for granted are the very things her generation fought for; such as the right to express ourselves, to vocalize our opinion through any medium, to take pictures, and the right to criticize the government, just to name a few. For them, taking a stand was the only option. They found small yet smart ways to show their opposition. They never stopped fighting. And what did they have that we don’t? What fueled their actions?
They believed in freedom. They believed in their power as the youth. They had courage. Doing the right thing was all they knew. Courage was their second skin. And here we are, not courageous enough to tell people to fall in line properly when someone cuts the line; not courageous enough to remind people that this area is in fact, a no smoking zone; not courageous enough to let your friend know that she’s changed and that that change isn’t good for her. Not courageous enough to tell our parents what we really feel.
What I learned from working for SAMASA is to never stop fighting for the cause you believe in, no matter how big or small it is. Once you realize that you can do it, that you can “fight”, you may inspire others around you to fight for their cause. You become someone else’s courage.
At its core, courage is doing what is right. Courage is needed today, in a time where values are changing and blurred lines are existing between what is right and wrong. What we are fighting for may be small compared to what the previous generation fought for, but it still counts. Courage always counts. So take that first step. It doesn’t matter what that first step is; whether your first step is standing up for someone who is being bullied, lobbying for the Freedom of Information bill, or even being comfortable with who you are and coming out of the closet. Be proud of that first step because it took courage to take that step. And remember that courage, in any form, always counts.