Token advocacy

There is no shortage of causes we can attach ourselves to. Championing them shows we are not preoccupied only with ourselves and our immediate circles. It says we are capable of altruistic activities that seek to make the world a better place. More importantly, being part of something bigger than ourselves gives meaning and purpose to our lives.

But if there are many good causes and many people rallying behind them, why does our world remain ugly and unjust?

It’s the disconnect between what we profess and what we actually do or not do that is the problem.

Token advocacy

For instance, sporting a rainbow—the symbol for LGBTQIA+—is becoming more common these days. This is a cause that is noble and fundamental: Openness to all, celebration of diversity, finding common ground in our humanity. Unfortunately, while many individuals and institutions claim to champion gender equality, they only so in words, while their action leaves much to be desired.

A popular shopping center in Quezon City made a show of celebrating Pride Month last June with a rainbow-colored skyway and pedestrian lane. And yet, it failed to train its employees on what it truly means to be in solidarity with Pride. Last week, a transwoman was dragged out of the ladies’ room at the mall and was discriminated upon by guards and a janitress. When she started recording the incident on her cell phone, the same woman was charged with unjust vexation, handcuffed and brought to the police station.

The government also recently passed a “Bawal Bastos law” that punishes catcalling and sexist remarks, among others. Many claim to demand that rapists and abusers be brought to justice. And yet, we have no less than the leader of the land objectifying women, even using them as “tourist attractions” to entice foreign men to come here. Of course, we are told he is joking—but this is no joking matter. We have esteemed institutions protecting their “highly esteemed” members that they dismiss allegations of improper behavior.

We hear about businessmen claiming to have compassion for the labor sector and yet shortchanging their own workers and refusing to give them their due despite their hard work and commitment to their jobs.

Many extoll freedom of expression but keep close watch on critics and dissenters, slamming them for being “activists” as though demanding accountability from leaders were a terrible thing.

Many, too, condemn the violence taking place in other places and display their position on social media, while being dreadfully silent about the violence taking place here at home in the name of campaigns against insurgency, or against illegal drugs.

Many causes need champions who will do more than mouth off the right words. Genuine advocacy demands sincerity and authenticity. Without these, you only have posturing.

Topics: Token advocacy , LGBTQIA+ , Bawal Bastos law
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