Voices of the youth – Wednesday, 16 March 2016

A letter that an eight-year-old wrote US presidential aspirant Donald Trump has been making the rounds in social media lately.
On March 9, an article in www.addictinginfo.org (forwarded from the Facebook account of Lea Salonga) showed the letter in its entirety, and I could not help but applaud at what he said — not to mention the way he expressed his thoughts. (If only some of our leaders were as clear and direct in relaying messages as this kid, maybe we wouldn’t be so confused or divided over issues sometimes!)
I consider it no strange coincidence that soon after, another youth-oriented brouhaha went viral — this time in the Philippines.
After presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte attended a governance and transparency forum at the University of the Philippines’ Los Baños campus on March 11 (noted by some quarters as the same forum where Jejomar Binay was “roasted by UPLB students”), a freshman student became the target of social media attacks by Duterte supporters.
The story is that, typical of his style, Duterte gave a speech reportedly “studded with curse words and forceful declarations on his platform.” But that was not the issue, although some might say it is a big one, considering his manner of speech and the words he says.
What made the whole thing controversial was a student’s alleged rudeness — during the question and answer portion, Mayor Duterte was supposedly asked by Stephen Villena to be direct in his answers and was practically hurried along to answer so they could leave already.
The beleaguered student — who was hunted down on FB and harassed, it was reported, came out with his statement saying he “meant no disrespect” and that he may have a “linguistic imperfection,” but that did not translate to an “arrogant disposition.”
He wanted to explain his part because of the “social media bashing” that followed. He said the YouTube video of the Q&A did not show the entirety so it was taken out of context.
In an article in the Inquirer, he is quoted as such: “Before I took the floor to ask my question it was made clear to us that Mayor Duterte was in a hurry to leave the forum as it was getting late. I therefore rushed my question hoping for an immediate answer. And since I did not get a direct answer to my question I requested him to please answer my question directly ‘para maka-uwi na sya.’”
Meanwhile, Duterte said his supporters should “take the moral high ground when engaging in any kind of discourse,” following reports of “death threats they have been making on social media.”
Okay, three points: One, politician candidates are like celebrities who have fans and bashers alike. Two, they have influence and reach that are even more magnified nowadays by the fact that social media is a tool to which even kids have access. And three, kids do have opinions, too, and adults should be more careful of what they say and how they act, especially those who purport to be our leaders.
I refer once more to that letter to Trump, who, in my mind, is like Duterte in the use of colorful words during public events.
Jackson Wheeles, in his letter to the Republicans’ top candidate, said: “I have read several articles about you and have seen you on the television. I think you have been very rude to many people. I know that you are talking to adults when you give your speeches, because they are the ones that can vote. It is important for you to remember that children are watching and hearing you, too. Someday, we will also be able to vote.”
Jackson commented on the way Trump talked about other people, even mocking a handicapped reporter once, which the kid saw on TV.
He said, “I learned about The Golden Rule when I was VERY young. How would you feel if people said some of these terrible things about you that I have heard you say about them? Do you ever feel sorry about the things that you say that are hurtful to others? I have never heard you apologize.”
He added: “Bullying is already a HUGE problem, and it is NOT OK! I feel like you could make that problem much worse.”
The third grader also pointed out that Trump’s statement “that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City and still rise in the polls” was terrifying.
“You make kids afraid when they hear that someone who could be our next President would even think of doing something like that!” he wrote.
He left Trump with a powerful message: “We may not be able to vote yet, but we are the future. I think it is important for us to have a kind, honest, caring person as our leader that we can look up to and respect. I am in the student government this year at my school. I try to be a student that everyone can look up to. I will grow up to be a husband, a father, hopefully a police officer and a good friend. I will choose to be a better person than what you have been teaching me to be.”
Enough said.

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