Almost everyone I know (including myself) is eager to see the end of 2016. To say it’s been turbulent is an understatement, what with the bad news that rushed in all year round, interspersed with even more bad news, controversies, and hallmarks of uncertain times.

From Brexit, to Trump’s win, to the deaths of so many celebrated individuals, to the Syrian crisis…indeed, it was an eventful year for the world. From where I stand, though, Filipinos probably saw it coming earlier than most, having been greeted at the start of the year by what many analysts call our most polarizing elections yet.

Looking back at the actual events since then is distressing, and is further perplexed by the fact that for every issue, everybody had something to say. I can’t think of how I was able to digest so much information and opinions from a multitude of sources, valid or otherwise-- looking back feels like stepping inside a windowless bus jam-packed with disgruntled people all speaking at the same time, their voices and faces fleetly changing and I can neither tell which side anyone’s on nor understand a word being said, though in this nightmare, I’m certain the bus isn’t moving.

‘Surreal’ was named Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year, and unsurprisingly so. But my vote is with Oxford’s ‘post-truth,’ defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” And not just because it’s more profound or fresh to the ear. Come to think of it, all the bad news this year, at least for those who still give two hoots about society, can be attributed to, if not caused by, the prevalence of post-truth.

Environmental activists know this all too well, regardless if they’re familiar with the term. More often than not, environmental issues are considered only as an afterthought. Case in point: coal plants. Given the health risks they pose to communities, not to mention the impacts of climate change we’re forced to endure each year, we’re still debating whether or not we should phase them out, and are even considering building more.

Beyond environmental issues, I saw that we’re a post-truth society in that a leader’s whims and promises of change have more convincing power than the extrajudicial killings by the thousands taking place in our own neighborhoods. I recognized it too from how many choose the convenience of moving on, while forgetting the terrible crimes committed by the enabling hand of a dictator. Also unmissable is how some in power have used others’ willful ignorance to their advantage, benefitting from the divide it has created among Filipinos.

Still, there were those who, in spite of this bleakness, took a stand not just for the environment but also for the things we can’t afford to lose: peace, dignity, life. There were those who challenged ignorance while listening with an open mind; those who chose empathy and stood with the ones at the receiving end of injustice, even if it meant standing with the few.

I want to end this year thanking these people, through whom the heroes of past generations live today. It was through their small, humble acts that I realized how activism fits into this post-truth world: it doesn’t. Activism has no place in it, for it’s precisely this endemic culture of apathy and self-service that it needs to defeat.

Courage in 2017, though it will come in many forms, won’t be a blind courage but one that’s vigilant and will seek to uphold the truth. Most of all, it will start from the common dream, the shared desire for a better world where we can all live in harmony. After all, isn’t this what we all want?