Moral challenge of SK elections
The Kabataang Barangay, the precursor of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), was not set up with good intentions.
When the dictator Ferdinand Marcos established the
Kabataang Barangay in 1975, he installed his eldest child, Imee, as its national chair to gear it toward his Bagong Lipunan agenda.
Once in an open forum, Archimedes Trajano, a student of the then Mapua Institute of Technology, questioned Imee’s appointment as head of the youth organization.
Her bodyguards promptly dragged him out of the venue. Hours later, his severely battered corpse was found.
This vile occasion in Philippine history boldly indicated that the first interest of the Kabataang Barangay was to align with the doings of the national government.
Such maneuvering is one testament to how that youth organization, and its current incarnation, the SK, should not be deemed an efficient breeding ground of young harbingers of change.
This has been proven true in the many cases in the past that gave SK officials the chance to corrupt public funds or to waste money on basketball leagues and beauty pageants.
If the youth organization was primarily established as an avenue to organize vanity shows, misuse financial assets, and sustain political dynasties, then nothing good should be expected from it.
Ironic it is as well for young people to immerse themselves in dirty politics when, in the first place, their crucial purpose is to clean it up.
To understand what electing government officials means, it is important for us to acquaint ourselves with the meanings of politics.
The writer William Joseph defined it as something that often carries a connotation of dishonest malpractice. Joe Painter and Alex Jeffrey, authors of “Political Geography,” put it in another way: Politics is about power.
All thinking human beings have the full potential to push their own definitions of politics. But the multiple descriptions of the word only shows how difficult it is to unify variant thoughts in order to solve the crises and issues of our society.
Thus, there is no excuse to forget that it also speaks of how the mundane concept and practice of politics become constrained whenever they are boxed into limited meanings.
If defining stringent principles on politics seems challenging, we must make an effort to raise our standards of professional excellence.
But if the requirements for aspiring youth politicians would be measured by their skills in leadership and management, their constituencies would, at the very least, have lesser headaches in choosing the best among the worst.
For so many years, it has been made evident that government officials lack intelligence, or if not, principles. Up to now there have been no initiatives to reevaluate our legal criteria for public servants.
But if the standards for those who seek public office would be elevated, the next challenge for us is to set the measure of the moral good.
Unfortunately, there is no device that can tell if someone is sincere or lying. Or if there is, candidates are not required to undergo that procedure. Philosophy can help us seek the true, good, and beautiful.
But it is urgent to keep in mind that there is no truth, only interpretations. This reality challenges us to heighten and sharpen the line of discourse on the principles we have to expect from people who wish to lead our society.
On the road toward the fulfillment of our future moral and political decisions, it is timely to learn from the book “The Hellenistic Philosophers: Translations of the Principal Sources with Philosophical Commentary.”
There, it is written that morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are improper.
The late former senator Miriam Defensor Santiago warned us that life is the consequence of our moral choices. It is indeed true that there are deeds closer to hell that can make us feel we are nearer to heaven.
But our timeless commitment to the search for the moral good is the essence of our existence. If we fail to exercise our full potential to allow the just to prevail in society, there is no reason for us to expect the best from the lesser evil.
However, if politics, in the first place, is dirty, how can we attain the perfect state of moral excellence?
Before finding answers, let us first organize the electoral and political problems that litter our path to discerning our destiny as a nation.
With the current condition of the Sangguniang Kabataan, the only way to assess the candidates is through their past experiences, reputation, and rhetoric.
But these do not give us access to predict their future performance, so we have to be vigilant.
On the other hand, is it not contradictory to vote for them
despite knowing that the SK itself is not efficient? How will they serve the people by being part of the government?
To suggest some answers, it is fine to keep in mind that there are nongovernment organizations which help society efficiently.
In fact, these NGOs can commit to their objectives without wallowing in local politics.
Apart from this, human beings generally have the capability to do good to others even outside the government.
According to Aristotle, man is by nature a political animal. But that is never an excuse for us to commit to doing what is wrong.
In “Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics,” Reinhold Niebuhr points out that people are more likely to sin as members of groups than as individuals.
It is true that society sets what we have to follow. But since we are also part of it, we have the authority and capability to shape our nation.
Unfortunately, we are lost because we cannot identify the meaning of morality and truth. Until we discover their definitions, we would not be able to identify our standards for an ideal leader since we ourselves are not sure about what we are looking for.
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Arjay Ivan R. Gorospe, 19, is enrolled in Philippine studies at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
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