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Commentary

Death of a scholar

A young person confronts the world with impregnable ideals, such as love of country and faith in God, but might soon realize that what ails society is some evil trace that was left behind by past mistakes and that now appears incorrigible. But the same person will continue to hope and pray that there is still a world out there that is greater than what is perceived by his or her fatigued mind. A century of wars cannot bring real progress to any society, nor will silent prayers change the frigid and uncaring hearts of those who perpetuate such worthless wars.

Every young soul in the academe is told that our choices define for us the kind of life that we are to live. In this respect, failure is no more than the inability of any individual to use to the fullest extent the value of one’s freedom. Human achievement, thus, is reserved only for those who know how to employ in the best possible way the mastery of self-determination. But the hatchet of unreasonableness can so easily destroy not only human ambition but also the profound meaning of the things that sincere and committed people work hard for.

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The French Revolution killed Antoine Lavoisier. The mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange lamented that the guillotine took just an instant to sever the head of the scientist, but France may not produce another like it in a century. For in truth, it is not at all times that the world cooperates with the human spirit. The spring of hope might dry up. Even writers can spend a whole day facing a blank wall. What you write is a matter of talent, but for whom you write is a question of purpose. For many of our youth, scholars and all, this purpose exists beyond question. But what overwhelms them is the fact that the world has not really changed. The curious mind that is searching for the next original idea can also suffer the fate of the savagery and brutality of Christ’s crucifixion.

It is wrong, of course, to suppose that all our problems are the result of the wrong choices we make. It is too cosmetic to say that people only suffer because of wrong judgments. There is something hidden in the midst of the difficult lives many among us have. Being a loser in the natural lottery called life is often a comfortable excuse, but it does reveal the truth of the tyranny many human beings have been subjected to since time immemorial. It is easiest to explain that you need luck in order to succeed in this world, but we sometimes forget that there are those among us who don’t deserve what they have.

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There are systems that impede the freedoms of people. Rules, defined by elitist and heartless structures, will deprive the young of the opportunity to realize their potential to the fullest extent. Schools sometimes sacrifice their scholars for the sake of outcomes. As a result, science regresses, and human society as a whole loses its chance at attaining any meaningful progress. Powerlessness simply means that there are privileged people and there are others who are not.

But that is not where the real injustice lies. Policies mindlessly immobilize a young scholar’s mind. No person remembers anything that is written on paper. It is only in the heart that the true value of the things that we do is rooted. But the ill effects of unfair rules will go beyond missed opportunities. Restrictions and barriers can make the young person lose his or her self-confidence and that inner drive to explore the unknown universe. Persecution drove Jewish geniuses out of Europe into the United States. We must not forget that we are human beings because of our hopes and dreams. To treat people as expendable things is to oppress them. Even a kindergarten pupil knows that it is not the right thing to do.

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Christopher Ryan Maboloc, PhD, teaches philosophy at Ateneo de Davao University. His latest article is “On the Scientific Methods of Popper and Kuhn: Implications of Paradigm Shifts to Development Models,” in the Philosophical Quarterly of Israel, published under Springer.

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