Two Rights

My last day at my first job and I’m thinking about how the most kind people probably don’t get mad a lot, have lots of patience, and easily forgive.

As much as I try everyday, I suspect I am not one of them.

I do try my damn best to respect others. And when I see others don’t, I tend to go out of my way and rally the respect people deserve.

And whenever I do, I get in trouble.

It first happened in sixth grade when my alma mater decided to rid the school of all interest-based clubs (e.g. Journalism, Art Club, Outdoors club, etc.) and enlist everyone in scouting.

I didn’t like it.

After five years of freedom, we suddenly didn’t have a choice.

It felt infuriating, choking even. So I decided to do what I thought any sixth grader would, I rallied my classmates to a cause we all shared yet afraid to fight for.

I convinced the entire class, with the help of the class president, to boycott the club assembly. I thought that by not attending , we get to make our point and retrieve our freedom.

It was at that time I first used the phrase

With all due respect

I told the prefect of discipline and the cluster head of grades 3 to 6 that

with all due respect, we do not want to be scouts, and we would appreciate it if we got our right to choose our  clubs back

It felt scary and empowering to have uttered such words. I felt happy. I thought, this is probably what speaking for others felt.

Well, I did speak, but I lost our plea. We were forced to be inducted into this patriarchal club without a choice.

Ironically, I enjoyed being hosed with water in the scouting’s final rights.

Little did I know that this little anecdote would foreshadow little moments in my little life where I muster enough courage to help speak my mind, even if what I have to say isn’t the popular thought.

In each of these little moments, I learned big things:

1. Be respectful
2. Don’t be afraid to disagree
3. Get used to rejection
4. You don’t always get what you want
5. Choose your words carefully
6. What’s obvious for you isn’t always obvious for others
5. and choose your battles

Speaking one’s mind is never easy. Even after keeping all these lessons in mind there are a few things that can go wrong in fighting for what you think is right. The worst among these things is when people misunderstand what you say.

Your statement loses its meaning as you attempt to defend it. In which case you’d be better off conceding.

I have learned to concede through the years, specially when “commoner” me drives points against “Kings and Gods,”  even more so when my point is glaringly in opposition to theirs. A younger me would say a glaringly “right” point, but then remember that what’s glaring for me isn’t always glaring for everyone.

I realized, it isn’t always about getting the respect you want for others; it isn’t even always about driving a point and proving you’re right; nor is it about winning.

Sometimes just saying things, just putting it out there is enough. When you don’t win, you reflect. You see how you could have said things better, or is your right really right. For me, losing usually meant learning–how I would have done things if I were a”king”, how i wouldn’t have done things, what kind of “king” will I be, or even if I want to be one.

You see, I may have never enjoyed choosing my club again in grade school, but at least I made it clear to my classmates and even to my teachers that there are many rights in this world, and talking about these rights in this world is important, and that it requires guts.

I guess I started early.



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