COMMENTARY: Just because you don’t like your neighbor’s politics doesn’t mean you can set his house on fire

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 December) — I support Mayor Duterte’s campaign for President, no doubt about it. I am glad that in this regard, I am joined by a great many others in support of him. That said, it’s becoming more and more glaringly obvious that in our passion, we are taking our defensive against Mayor Duterte’s detractors a little too far sometimes.

It’s one thing to refute an argument with fact, or to counter with an example of his leadership that appeals to us for when the facts elude us, no matter how heated our discourse might become. However, there is a line that separates responsible, well-informed, and staunch supporters from becoming an obscene and vicious mob, blind to the real issues at hand.

I’m talking about my fellow supporters, or anyone for that matter, that might stoop low enough to resort to attacking a critic’s person more than his or her opinions. The sense of accomplishment via attempts to discredit a detractor instead of contributing with one’s own sentiments, and with use of cheap, malicious non sequiturs at that, is lost upon me.

While I find the erstwhile campaigning through attacks on an opposing candidate’s weaknesses rather than focusing on the strengths and selling points of one’s own preferred candidate a bit illogical if not weak, outdated, and undignified (though also a little entertaining, I confess), deeply personal threats and attacks on a fellow member of the electorate just because they have a difference in opinion or belief is just downright hateful, ignorant, and disgraceful and it needs to stop. If you can’t see past the shallowness of all this, try to remember that it does not help a campaign in any sense whatsoever.

Just because you don’t like your neighbor’s politics doesn’t mean you can set his house on fire. If we all take a little time to cultivate a little compassion within ourselves, we will realize that no one is better than the person next to him or her, just different and with different things to offer, and our differences and freedom to harbor them is one of the privileges of democracy. An attack on a person based solely on their statements and/or beliefs being different from your own is a grave affront to freedom, and is the death of any society.

I don’t mean to cause any division or discord within our ranks, that’s the last thing we need. What we need is a united front that supports Mayor Duterte the right way, and for the right reasons. I am no expert, nor will I imply an air of superiority in any capacity, nor am I under any illusion that I hold authority to tell anyone what to do or how to do it. I am just a simple citizen, with simple thoughts, and devilish good looks, but here are my two cents: If we all chill out a little, learn some manners, and read a book or two, we can make better arguments as to why we are making our choices, and just maybe even make those choices seem appealing to others as well. This is in contrast to an arrogant mindset that exudes the sentiment “I am right, all else who oppose me be damned.” Take that for whatever it’s worth to you, I promise not to hold it against you.

This is not an us versus them deal, people. This goes for the whole electorate, not the separate camps pulling for separate parties or leaders. These lines we draw among us are all imaginary; no matter who we choose to vote for, we’re lumped together for better or for worse, so why let something as paltry as politics cause this decay within our own selves? After all, WE are the ones that hold the real power, as long as we can go beyond treating our differences as targets to exploit and destroy, and instead see them as assets to be celebrated, respected, and upheld.

Let’s have an enlightened and peaceful campaign period and election season.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Dabawenyo entrepreneur Juan Gabriel “Uno” Misa Ayala, 24, finished high school at the Ateneo de Davao University, took up Psychology at the James Cook University in Singapore and will be proceeding to Melbourne, Australia for his Masters in Business at the Monash University next year. Uno is the son of Leilani Ayala Villorente and grandson of the late Jesus and Mafe Ayala, staunch supporters of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Uno posted this on his FB wall on December 10, 2015. Permission to reprint granted to MindaNews)