War for our nation’s concept of right and wrong

By: Joel Ruiz Butuyan - @inquirerdotnet - Columnist/Philippine Daily Inquirer | December 13,2021 - 08:00 AM

In a perfect world, we will elect our next president based on demonstrated qualities of competence, integrity, and compassion. In an ideal reality, it would be so easy to choose who possesses these qualities of leadership among our presidential candidates.

We live in an imperfect world, however, and we have a dysfunctional reality. This explains why so many of our countrymen are showing preferences for candidates who are more deficient than others when measured against the yardstick of ideal leadership.

The most oft-repeated culprit blamed for our predicament is the low level of literacy among our people. Literacy may be a factor, but it is not the principal problem as perceived by many. How do we explain, for instance, why our dysfunctional leaders enjoy even bigger support among the upper class who enjoy high literacy, compared to the support they get from the lower class which is plagued with low literacy? How do we explain the fact that our grandparents elected highly competent and upright leaders even if they had lesser education? On top of that, our ancestors had limited access to information compared to the vast ocean of information at our generation’s fingertips.

More than literacy, the main culprit for our deteriorated concept of ideal leadership can be traced to our weakened concept of right and wrong. Our people’s sense of right and wrong has become contaminated with so many toxic societal issues, giving rise to many variants of right and wrong.

Our poisoned sense of right and wrong explains why a leader who espouses a policy of killings as a solution to our drug problem remains widely popular; a leader who is facing plunder charges rates high in the senatorial race, and; a leader who is an unapologetic heir to a legacy of violence and corruption is on the verge of becoming our country’s next president.

Our concept of right and wrong has become contaminated because there has evolved in our culture a narrowed view of what is good. What is good is no longer viewed from the perspective of community and country, but from the limited perception of personal interest. People approve of extrajudicial killings as a solution to our drug problem because it is good for the personal safety of so-called law-abiding citizens. People will vote for politicians who plundered the nation’s coffers, because they’re perceived as generous in handing dole-outs to the poor. People will vote for the deposed dictator’s son because he counts as one in their ethnic affinity.

What has evolved in our reality is a crooked habit of judging right and wrong on the basis of compartmentalized issues that resonate personally, regardless of how terrible a leader’s track record is on a plethora of other issues. Our concept of right and wrong is not viewed from the perspective of what’s good for our country, but from the viewpoint of personal benefit.

Another matter that has clouded our concept of right and wrong in our assessment of the presidential candidates is the fact that we’re judging them not on their leadership qualities, but on the perceived failures or imagined successes of past leaders the candidates are identified with. Many detractors of Vice President Leni Robredo oppose her not because of her lack of leadership qualities, but principally because of her association with so-called “dilawan” forces. Supporters of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. back him up not because of his leadership qualities, but primarily because he is the son of the former dictator whom they perceive did good for the country.

The most recent toxic element that has been poisoning our people’s concept of right and wrong is the massive proliferation of fake news. There’s a noticeable slant in all these fake news. They’re being spread to negatively portray Robredo, and to positively promote Marcos Jr.

The upcoming presidential election has developed not only as a battle of candidates for our country’s top leadership. It has also emerged as a war for our nation’s idea of, and our people’s belief in, right and wrong.

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TAGS: concept of right and wrong, imperfect world, low level of literacy, poisoned sense of right and wrong, weakened concept of right and wrong

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