Monsters of morality

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

THE Philippine conception of morality is far from perfect. But at the very least, we know exactly what right and wrong constitute. The only problem is that this awareness doesn’t necessarily lead to choosing the side that’s good. We could choose evil when we know it’s convenient to us. This is reflective of the kind of moral bankruptcy contaminating the very institutions that are supposed to champion uprightness.

Sure enough, it’s this sort of grotesque moralism that has allowed the cockroaches of society to roam free and spread their unholy stench both online and offline. And of course, the only reason why they do such things – that they keep on doing the wrong things to their own advantage – is because they have subscribed to the idea that actions are relative. Even worse is the idea that morality is meaningless, that the ethical validity of our actions are dictated by where we stand in the social and economic hierarchy rather than by some form of higher law designed to protect us from making stupid decisions.

But what’s certain is that, beyond all this talk about moral relativism, anyone who has had the gall to call himself an upright citizen would sneer at even the slightest whiff of injustice, from getting cut off by some yahoo at an LTO queue or watching the news about how this government doesn’t flex an eyelash after knowing that a civilian vessel has been sunk by a Chinese boat.

This is because as selfish as we are, we still find value in empathy. It comes right from this feeling of belonging to a community that shares triumphs and failures, even though the people living in it do not practice the “love thy neighbor principle.” Inside every investment scammer is someone saying, “My, another poor soul.” Inside every sleazy politician is a humanitarian who believes that giving free rice is a form of selfless service.

Our humanitarian concerns only act up when we are confronted by situations we couldn’t imagine ourselves to be in. Now, I don’t normally write about local issues, but I think there’s a need for us to address an incident that happened over the weekend when two educators were killed after being run over by a speeding sports car along Diversion Road.

The facts are already enough to make you throw a fit. According to witnesses, the sports car flew like a bullet along the road where there was light traffic. It was 6 am on a Saturday after all, so reaching insane speeds was somehow a good idea to some motorists who couldn’t care less about pedestrian safety. But in an effort to overtake a pickup truck, the car hit and dragged a school principal and his wife to their deaths. What earned the ire of the social media crowd is the fact that the driver of the sports car attempted to run away, but he was coaxed by the owner of the pickup truck to give himself up to authorities.

Almost instantly, an outpouring of rage and grief swept the Facebook pages of local news outlets that covered the incident. Those who knew the victims well demand justice and to have the sports car driver to serve prison time for his recklessness. Others, however, weren’t all too kind with their choice of words. A highschool friend of mine even wanted to turn the driver’s home into a “firing range.”

But as much as we wanted some form of justice to prevail, we only learned that hours after the incident, the driver posted bail for a sum of P90,000, an amount that bus drivers won’t be able to pay instantly if they’re in the same situation. People now think that, since he’s a dual citizen of the United States, he’ll eventually run away from the long yet frail arm of Philippine law.

The outrage became even more vocal, proving that at the deepest recesses of the Philippine psyche lies a desire for justice. If this is indeed true, then we couldn’t consider ourselves to be as morally bankrupt as we initially thought.

There’s hope for us after all since, from the looks of it, we’re not really the monsters who’d pick the bad side of things all the time.