Cecilia Manrique: Our nation forgets civility

Cecilia Manrique: Our nation forgets civility

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Coming from a Third World country, I never thought it could happen to my adopted homeland, the United States of America.

And to think we had made the choice to stay in the U.S. after graduate school because we believed that better opportunities were in store for us and our future family by staying put. And it had been a good run so far until the new COVID-19 and the protests and looting after the death of George Floyd.

I am not unfamiliar with peaceful demonstrations. I have been a part of some while living in the Philippines.

In fact, as the president of the freshman class at my alma mater Maryknoll College I voted to boycott classes so that my classmates could participate in protests against the Marcos administration.

I marched down the streets with demonstrators but upon looking around I noticed that very few of my peers were in the marching lines. It came to my attention the next day that students had gone to the movies or ate out when they were supposed to not be in class because they were protesting.

As a result of my disillusionment, I decided not to vote for future boycotts again. Instead, I vowed to concentrate on my studies and work from within. Thus, the jobs that I held after college were with the Philippine government in an attempt to bring about change from within.

I left the country before the disappointment with the Marcos administration came to bloody blows. We have witnessed how such pent-up anger has led to not so peaceful, even bloody revolutions in countries such as Rwanda.

Surprisingly enough, the people power revolution that brought down the Marcos administration was a peaceful one.

But that was my fear on the weekend that protests took place in various cities in the United States over the death of George Floyd, which was attributed to the systemic racism that exists in police departments all over the country as evidenced by the deaths of minority suspects.

What started out as peaceful movements deteriorated into violence, rioting, vandalism, looting and burning in many parts of the country. We witnessed a once-civil country forget its civility.

Whether it was because of many years of pent-up emotions, the work of agitators or just individuals taking advantage of a chaotic situation, what appeared on our TV screens was reminiscent of political crisis situations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, not here in the good old US of A.

But I guess it can, and rather than join in to be part of the chaos, again I have chosen to educate as I have done in my classrooms whenever such turmoil would erupt in other parts of the world.

Oh, to be in the classroom and discuss how it can happen here.

Cecilia Manrique is a retired professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse who has constantly found fodder for educating in the midst of pandemics, such as AIDS and Ebola in Africa, and political crises in the Third World countries that she taught about during her teaching career.

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