Lesson learned: Sometimes, courage comes from knowledge

Posted on February 6, 2011

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Last Friday, Ateneo de Manila University held a noise barrage in support of  “truth hero” (or whistle blower) Heidi Mendoza. I got the text alert from a colleague early morning. Late morning, my boss came to our workstation and told us to assist media people during the afternoon’s noise barrage because she won’t be there. She gave us a rough idea on who’ll be there, and who the media people can interview in case they request for it.

I was busy writing content for a guidebook for one of the University’s offices so I just nodded like a good subordinate should even if I understood just half of what she said. And how I regret it.

When I went to the noise barrage venue at 5PM, that’s when it hit me that I didn’t know much about our own event. I didn’t bother to ask the basic questions of who’s organizing, what this activity is for and how it came to be, what end result they expect to get, and most importantly, WHY this noise barrage is being held.

As a result, I was reluctant to approach any media person, for fear of being asked the basic questions I failed to get the answers to, and consequently, for fear of feeling incompetent.

But apparently, that’s not my boss’ concern. When she texted me in the middle of the event, she just asked which media outfits are present. So I rattled off names: ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5, Channel 4, Philippine Daily Inquirer. And she replied with this triumphant air. I felt relieved. Sort of. But I knew I made a mistake somewhere. A careless one. I knew I could have done better if I did my homework. Rattling off names is easy. Responsibly providing the right and the relevant information is not. It takes foresight, fast thinking, and conscientiousness. It is a social responsibility. I could have helped influence the public sphere but I failed to do so. And I know this deep in my heart.

Deep in my heart, it’s not just about letting the name Ateneo out. It’s more than that. It’s really more than that.

My Action Plan: Get the project brief, the basics of the situation, before moving into action. There’s no point in going to battle without my gear, which, in this case, is my brain. Courage to act comes from knowledge. And I need all the knowledge I can get.

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