Change the rules we refuse to enforce | Inquirer Opinion

Change the rules we refuse to enforce

12:30 AM September 09, 2022

We are afraid of that big white elephant in the room. It is not Marcos, by the way, or Sara. Rather, it is the true state of our nation, which, by the way, is floundering as one. Nation is defined in several ways, definitions that are common in many aspects but also specifically unique in some.

Let us take a common definition: a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory. This definition seems universal enough.


But let us now go to a specific one: a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own. Similar but quite different, too, as unity in purpose is conscious, not just derived from being in one same space or territory, and governance becomes a both need and purpose.

Why floundering? For one, we are sufficiently conscious that we need unity and that unity results in having a government from that. Well, we have no unity so there can be no fruits from non-existent state of unity.


However, unity can be further broken down into numbers, not the quality essential to its being a virtue. Unity by numbers is there because a majority creates a veneer of being one in something. However, it is like justice broken down by numbers as well. It is simply impossible to equate the essence of justice with the number of cases filed and heard, even adjudicated. Justice, like unity, is simply too qualitative to be tucked inside the quantitative.

Consider that the Constitution is supposed to be the major reference point of a people’s unity. It is not just territory which can host great conflict or admirable harmony. It is the belief system that carries in it our most important values and visions, the guiding framework of our being one people in one territory. When we as a people agree on the most important and further agree to be guided by them more than our individual points of view, we have the needed unity to be a nation.

Do we? I do not think so.

Do we agree that our unity as a group of human beings, from being a family, a community, and a nation uniformly demands that we must avoid, condemn, and punish  acts inimical to the unity of our togetherness?  In other words, to preserve harmony and order in the family, and to all extensions beyond the family towards the nation, we identify what we must follow and what we must denounce.

The most common acts that disturb and ultimately destroy our unity, whether as a family, community, or nation, is lying. Lying is not only a crime by one person to another, it is also corroding the basis for order. Order needs defined and constant truths around which it operates. Lying destroys that.

The next common crime that disrupts order as much as relationships in families, communities, and nations is stealing. Nothing can destroy harmony and order as stealing can. Imagine a nation where stealing is tolerated and all relationships with the world of nations will be suspect, fragile, and exploitative. Same as a family, as a community. If we tolerate stealing, we will soon be at each other’s throats.

Lying and stealing are the most simple yet massive provocations for violence and killing. I can imagine what a judge or arbiter will hear when mediating between two contending parties. Both parties will accuse each other of lying and stealing. Not too long after, they will be accused of killing the other.


Laws everywhere, no matter the form of government or religion followed in that land, will condemn and punish lying and stealing. It matters little whether Christian or Muslim or Hindu, the world’s three most populous religions – all consider lying and stealing as wrong or sin. In Hinduism, in fact, there is a special wrong assigned to a person who cares about his own and his family’s good, but harms other living beings and is always envious of them.

I mentioned caring for one’s family but committing wrong to others even for family’s sake. Filipinos are supposed to be very family oriented. To support our family, we often cross the line and tolerate wrongdoing or crimes when our relatives commit them. Actually, no belief system justifies lying or stealing simply because we favor our families or envy others.

When Filipinos laugh at corruption and accept lying as something normal, when we look up to thieves and liars and choose them to be our leaders, we must realize it is not them. Liars and thieves have to pay for their crimes, here on earth or later in the afterlife. But I tend to think that those among us who knowingly and willfully tolerate lying and stealing are worse as enablers to the few until we all become like them.

For more than 70 years, I have seen so many liars and thieves among VIPs and ordinary people. The VIPs are easy to notice and then judge. But ordinary folks like you and me, we get away with little lies and little stealing here and there. And our small transgressions make us guilty enough to tolerate when others commit big lies and steal in the billions and billions. |

We have to change the rules if we refuse to enforce them. We cannot start to change what is wrong when we do not know anymore the difference between wrong and right. We might as well erase what is wrong and just consider them right. After all, they will not be punished but we pay for policemen and judges to do so – for show.

We can then get on with our lives having the lowest ethical and moral bar, reduce the need for controlling liars and thieves in our systems, and just money does all the talking.

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TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, Constitution, Sara Duterte
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