THE DISCOMFORT OF GETTING OFF THE FENCE

Posted on March 14, 2010

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No matter how uncomfortable a fence may be as an improvised seat, the alternative to sitting on it, that is, to get off from it may for many be not a very comfortable option.

The human anatomy having got used to a certain position or posture may prefer to stay in that position rather than change even if the new alignment will in the long run be good for the person’s posture and long-term wellbeing. In other words, if we have so long been on the fence, the prospect of getting off from it may not be an attractive proposition. “It has served me rather well for such a long time, why change now?”

Accordingly, many have chosen to stay immovable on the fence.

To be sure, some have little choice but to stay on the fence at least outwardly for reasons of their employment, business, association, family ties, and even personal temperament, etc. This is especially so when it comes to the matter of political partisanship. One’s job or circumstance may be such that to stay politically-correct (which may mean to stay politically neutral) may be the proper thing to do. Indeed, many who wish to be more involved have found themselves caught in such a predicament and often feel forced to remain more silent and still than they otherwise may wish to be.

Under such circumstances, it must be recognized that membership with a political party is thankfully not a prerequisite for a responsible citizen who wishes to engage the political process, that is, have his or her say about critical issues which impacts not only the governance of one’s country but impinges on the everyday life and aspirations of its humblest citizenry.

If, however, continuing to sit perched on the proverbial fence means that the citizens of a country want nothing to do with how the elected government of the country go about its business of running the country, and don’t care about how tenets of the country’s constitution is being interpreted or summarily amended, and how the courts conduct cases brought before it, or how the police, anti-corruption agency, elections commision and civil service go about their business, etc., then for sure by sitting on the fence we won’t just be plagued with a sore bottom.

Something far worse will affect us as a nation. Indeed, the nation has for some time already been inflicted by a deadly ailment

For so long, the country has put up with so much abuse of power and violation of fundamental civil liberties that the time has come when fence-sitters must be confronted with their responsibilities to other human beings they share this nation with. This is not about joining a political party or always agreeing with any political party. It is about joining the chorus of concerned citizens many of whom are not officially aligned to any political party. These concerned citizens speak up and initiate appropriate action to blatant abuse of power. If we don’t wish to initiate our own action, we must at least join others who have taken the initiative before us and lend our voices and resources to them.

It may not be easy to get off the fence. In some instances, it will be very uncomfortable to take sides and identify with one side or the other of an issue. But as I have said before, when it comes to moral issues I cannot remain neutral. No matter how costly or uncomfortable it may be to get off the fence of perpetual neutrality, as an adult person I must do what I know to be right and speak up for those who have become much greater victims of abusers of power than I myself.

The time has come when we must choose between the discomfort of sitting on the fence and the discomfort of getting off the fence. We don’t always have the luxury of choosing between what is comfortable and what is not.

The future of our children and their children depends on what we shall do when faced with two distinct discomforts: the discomfort of sitting on the fence and the discomfort of getting off the fence. Perpetual neutrality on my part will inevitably pass the cost of perpetual abuse to my children and theirs.

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Posted in: Perspective