4th Place: Making a Difference Starting with Ourselves

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"How Could the World Be a Safer Place for You and Me?”

This was the question posed to high-school and elementary students across the province during the pandemic lockdown. In an essay contest, organizer Attorney Rionald J. Gonzales challenges the student’s minds and channels their energies away from social media distractions and towards “ingenuity and skill.”

“My aim for organizing this activity is to encourage students to be proactive in these pressing times of pandemic. That staying at home can do big help to the community and the country at large. That by their piece of knowledge they can inspire others to do the same,” he expresses. We share with you the winning essays:

Ram Dowee Lasala Dizon | 4th Prize Winner | Socorro National High School **“

I thought nothing would ever be a cause for me to be discouraged to go out and stroll for such a sunny day other than my parent’s permission, but here I am currently stuck in this boring quarantine due to fears of contracting the coronavirus.

Being stuck and bored however has its perks, it has given me much time to be able to reflect and meditate from everything that is happening in our world since then up to the present, making me come to a point to say that our world isn’t actually that much safe after all. With this, I am finding solutions to fill up the holes and make our world a safer place for you and me; so what are these solutions?

Before walking directly to these answers, let us first traverse back in time to briefly highlight events that have become both the darkest days and lessons that we should point out in human history. Since time immemorial, the world has witnessed hundreds of wars, or large scale misunderstandings as I call them.

Many have been forgotten while many more are left to be remembered in our textbooks; some of these famous wars are the first and second world wars when powerful nations showed their military might to each other, leaving millions dead. The fear and hysteria felt by the people critically affected by such wars might have been immense with no words to be able to describe how terrified they were.

Art by @Elfboi_World

In addition, as the first world war concluded, the fear and uncertainty felt by the people would still be there to stay as they faced an invisible enemy, the Spanish Flu, killing at least 50 million people, more deaths than the war itself. The said cause of such a high death toll was the fact that no country dared to speak of the pandemic’s existence to not lower the morale of their soldiers, so as the war ended, their soldiers became instruments who would unknowingly spread the virus even more.

However, we already learned some lessons, especially in handling pandemics, but we can’t deny that a modern pandemic such as this Coronavirus Disease 2019 would still have a huge impact in the world’s economies and also in dividing society.

These days, according to Bill Gates, a nuclear war among countries isn’t much of a threat for us as most nations invest much funding in nuclear deterrence and that relationships of civilized nations are now well kept with no leader trying to light a fuse for a devastating bomb. What we should be afraid however is an outbreak, an invisible enemy which could strike anyone, the elderly or the youth.

These are what world leaders have forgotten, the lessons of the past pandemics, the need to prevent and to prepare in case an outbreak occurs as depicted by the effects of COVID – 19 where many nations are left behind in terms of healthcare and governments are finding it hard to flatten the curve.

Photo by Eldon Vince Isidro

Filipinos are known to be amazing people, taking pride in our hospitality towards others and our resilience during hard times made me say that we are truly amazing with our unity being stronger than that of other nations as depicted by our ‘Bayanihan spirit,’ but that’s not entirely the case in this pandemic.

In our battle against this invisible enemy, instead of being unified, society is now divided because of different political views and is currently in a battle of who’s right. If you ask any soldier, the enemies who are easy to defeat are those who lack cooperation and communication, just like what is happening in our country where many are against the other and many more are trying to spark debates, especially on social media.

If we continue to disregard the views of our fellows, to disregard the actions of the government, to disregard understanding the situation, and to disregard the importance of unity, then we shall face certain defeat in our feat to resolve this crisis and any other problem. Fear would remain and a safer world for us would still be non-existent.

Our children are considered to be in charge of the future and what might happen from then on will be on their hands. To add, any child’s qualities depend on how the parents mold them, whether they’ll be great people as they grow. With this, we must plant in them the seeds of a future world that we can call a safe haven for you and me, not entirely from calamities and natural disasters but from conflicts and uncertainty. As parents, your duty is not just the welfare of your children and to discipline them, but also aide in making them better individuals.

Another step in our quest to achieve a better world is the use of our voice, in a correct manner. Our voice is a tool, soft or loud, it is still powerful and what one might say might reshape the course of another person’s life or a country’s future, and the usage of our voice is proven essential in forging our future. One example of an individual changing the course of his country’s freedom through the use of his voice is Dr. Jose P. Rizal, using his voice and his literary prowess he was able to inspire his generation and fuel their morale as they fought for our nation’s freedom from Spanish colonization.

So these days, our voice can be used to ease conflicts, paving the way for peace to be felt by everyone and not only the few. And by using our voice, let us tell the world that in any conflict, it is the children who suffer most and that their suffering is now enough, they deserve a safer world where freedom is at hand and that their right to go to school will not have any hindrances.

To add, in our war in this pandemic, our leaders’ correct use of their voice is essential in leading us to victory and that opposing political views will at least be mitigated. On the other hand, the correct use of their voice is of no use when they are unable to listen correctly to what the opinions of others are. So, what they must reflect as being leaders is that they must listen because that is what true leaders do.

Each of us wants to be understood in what we are trying to express, so with it, we must also try to listen to others because it is more of a give and take relationship, if you listen to the views and opinions of others, it is likely that they shall return the favor. Listening well and using our voice correctly is essential not just in resolving this pandemic, but also in shaping a better and safer future in general.

No matter what steps we take in reshaping a better future, it will all be of no use if you yourself would not take part in the change. Everyone wants to change the world, but according to John Maxwell, the world that we need to change first is the one that is inside of us.

We shall have a greater tomorrow, a tomorrow that is prosperous and safe where unity will play a major role towards progress. However, in trying to make a difference, the biggest step would be to start it with yourself first.

photo by Jude Beck

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