Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A Society Inured to the Dangers of The Darker Side of Morality




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Yesterday, Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte publicly stated that he will hunt out rice smugglers in his city, and he would kill them. I find this ironic, since the good mayor seems to be trying very hard to sound like Liam Neeson’s character in the first Taken.

rodrigo duterte
I will find you, and I will kill you. Taken from GMA News.

I don’t mind Duterte. He’s better than a vast majority of the public servants we have in the country—which is to say, almost all of them. And he’s effective! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy as tough on his city as he is.

Well, there was Alfredo Lim back when he was younger, more efficient, and less entrenched in his mayorial office. Duterte seems to have taken over Lim’s “Dirty Harry” persona, though, taking the good fight to the people by walking the walk, talking the talk—and threatening death to criminals.

A lot of people wouldn’t mind that. What use, after all, are criminals? If you were to take the DC Comics superhero team The Elites as an example, Manchester Black’s decision to kill evildoers rather than incarcerate them with the hopes of rehabilitation seems pretty cogent. What use, after all, are people like Lex Luthor? Or, to bring matters closer to home, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, or Erap Estrada? The fact that the public once believed them to be the scum of society makes the very fact that they’re back in office, once again running things, preposterous! What is up with you people?! They should be in retirement! Or at least, they should be so lucky!

But let’s stop there. Do we really think that people are beyond redemption? Have we really become a society that thinks people who do wrong should be removed from the face of the earth? To use another example from fiction—Gandalf dissuaded Frodo from thinking that Gollum was useless, stating that he would, in the end, still play a role in the big scheme of things. And Gollum did; it was by his own hand that the one ring was ultimately destroyed. Had Gollum ceased to exist, Frodo would never have been able to toss the ring into Mount Doom.

I’m not saying that everybody has such an obvious goodness in them. Sometimes, we won’t be able to see it. We’re humans, and we tend to be very short-sighted when it comes to seeing what other people are capable of. But have we really sunk into such a low that things like killing other people for the sake of moral justice—even if it were just a threat—becomes the norm?

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