It was odd not to be gripped by the corona obsession and instead be gripped by another fever – campaigning for a cause, finding myself one of the leaders of a ragtag group, trying to overthrow a pair who has ruled for six years. It’s better than watching any Netflix series because I am already in one. It consumes my time during the weeks before and after lockdown without missing a beat since everything could be done online. I had to reduce my workload, though after realizing the frenetic pace was not healthy for family life.
The reason I want to write this all down is I want to describe the fear that comes with the territory. It’s a fear that was revealed to me by somebody else. There are people who do not want to rock the boat, who want to stay safe and know as little as possible about what’s going on. They know something is wrong but they want to stay quiet in the background. That point of view should be respected but I was also hoping they could be swayed to join the cause.
However, there is a side of me that totally understands that fear because I, too get caught in its web. I felt it attending the last meeting when I prepared a speech and realized it was totally the wrong time to deliver it. I feel it thinking about the pair’s angry and scary stare. I call up one of the people I’m closest to in our ragtag group asking if she has ever feared them.
What is there to be afraid of? She explains and it clears away the irrational fears that I have.
It’s scary to have an opposing view and express it to a current leadership that is close-minded and messianic. Yesterday, I found this on Wikipedia:
In terms of the attitude wherein an individual sees themselves as having to save another or a group of poor people, there is the notion that the action inflates their own sense of importance and discounts the skills and abilities of the people they are helping to improve their own lives.
Messiah Complex, Wikipedia
Because they have ruled for six years, they think nobody else could lead the community as well as they do because they have poured an inordinate amount of time and effort into this. This beautiful residential area we call our home, would simply go to the dogs if other people ran it without the expertise and experience that they have. Rules would not be implemented because people will just be lax, take things for granted.
However, the pair has angered a good segment of the population going to the other extreme of the spectrum. They have imposed exorbitant penalties implemented as if they are extorting money from residents who do pay association dues. Paper accidentally falling from the balcony was fined P10,000. Parking violation was fined P200,000 while the accidental burning of plastic that did not cause any damage to the unit or building was penalized P100,000. Meanwhile, cigarette butts get thrown out of windows and in some floors, garbage is not properly thrown into the chute without citation or penalty.
Meanwhile, one-half of the ruling pair violated the following three rules during a Security Committee meeting last year when he started a fight with one of the committee members:
1) Fighting, inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm or injury to other people within the residential area
2) Threatening, intimidating, coercing and usage of insulting language,
3) Provoking or instigating a fight.
The aggrieved member wrote to the Board of Trustees about this. He wrote to the COMELEC requesting to disqualify the council head from running but his letters fell on deaf ears. Because the council head was not given a citation for his actions, he is still in “good standing” and eligible to run.
Meanwhile, some people who wanted to run for council couldn’t because of a citation over an accident, which were automatically handed without due process. Some people wanted to run but couldn’t because of a late payment that was already paid before the nomination deadline.
Meanwhile the head of the council gets off scot-free because he was “forgiven” by the council. There is no forgiveness for those who make a mistake because they are only residents who are part owners of the condominium corporation. There is forgiveness for the council leader because he has six years of service behind him even if that service has harmed residents, some of whom feel like prisoners in their own home, stripped off their rights.
Some residents have observed that it was so much better “back then.” Some residents don’t know that any of these are happening and are happy and satisfied with the way things are. For each segment, what proportion of the pie do they make up? Are the ones dissatisfied just way noisier than the ones who are? Or is the seemingly rising tide of discontent a substantial matter that should be addressed?
Countries fall into the trap and mistake of electing leaders in place who want to hold onto power after they have tasted how good it is. They deny that it is a power trip, of course. Every year, they go through this ritual of saying they don’t want to run anymore but each year, they are convinced to do so “for the people’s good.”
What is the definition of people’s good or what does it mean — for the good of the community? We all define it individually and there will be so many dissenting and clashing opinions, who’d want to sit and serve in a council, anyway? Some love the challenge of being part of the solution to a problem. However, if some are causing more problems than contributing to the solution, but are completely oblivious to the fact, where do we go from there?
This is quite a strange, strange thing to write during the Holy Week when we ought to be reflecting on Jesus’ death and resurrection. What would Jesus do if he were alive in our midst today? What would He say about COVID and the quarantine? If I invited Him to sit during the council meetings, how would he act? Well, in the first place, he wouldn’t be allowed into council meeting if he wasn’t a member. If asked, what advice would he give the ragtag and the ruling? What sort of peace and hope would he bring to the table?