COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
Listening to today’s daily news makes one cringe for it seems that not a day passes by without a person being killed, either murdered or figured in an accident. Persons committing suicide are even growing in number. But most deaths that are being reported are done by assassins or killings associated with robbery. And a robbery could be as petty as snatching a cell phone and one life is gone. Many women and young girls being killed were also raped first before being snatched of life. While there are those who are brutally “salvaged” and thrown like garbage.
Many of the horrible deaths, however, were done by persons on illegal drugs which could only mean that without the substance such atrocious acts may not have happened. There were also incidents of parricide due to economic difficulties and after which the killer also committed suicide. Just a few days ago I heard on radio of a man who cut the head of his mother over some misunderstanding, though the man was reported to be drinking heavily for days earlier. Political killings would also erupt every now and then and mostly would remain unsolved.
The frequency of the killings that we hear nowadays may lead one to think that this is “the end of the days” as prophesied in the Bible. But what I perceive is that the nature and frequency of violence in our midst mainly speaks of a demoralized society. And this demoralized society was created and tolerated, perpetuating a culture of fear and violence and impunity. Our countrymen now readily kill out of frustration or anger, in contrast to the resilient nature of the Filipino. Destruction seems to be the easy way out when by nature we are a compassionate people, easy to forgive and to forget.
The State thru its security agents has so much responsibility in this spate of violence for it employs violence as a means of control; like in crushing the insurgents and those highly active in the social movements, summarily executing those involved in drugs, and even in silencing the political opposition. The State has even imported torture and planted it in our shores. So we cannot blame or even prevent our fellow countrymen from adopting the ways of our rulers. This cycle of violence, indeed, has corrupted our people who have come to think that it is cheaper to kill a man than to bring him to court, or to the hospital for that matter.
Mass media likewise has helped promote this culture of violence by sensationalizing violence in film, broadcast, and print. The message media is sending is that the various forms of violence it projects is a normal occurrence in life and therefore acceptable if not tolerable. Our people’s world view is slowly being distorted and thus weakening our moral values. Materialism is also highly emphasized thereby turning man into a mere commodity. Even the ubiquitous computer games have reduced man as an object, dissecting the body into an effective target. As a consequence, our people become desensitized.
The breakdown of the family due to labor migration has also aggravated this spate of violence. The individual has lost his center and base especially for a Filipino who thrives on family relations. The individual has lost the moral grounding needed to sustain him in emotional and spiritual crisis. No wonder a lot of our countrymen is being demoralized with the weakening of the family bond. Many homes today have only one parent raising children and a lot of families turned dysfunctional. While there are children who only grow up with caregivers as their parents work abroad.
Given all these considerations, I find the spate of violence happening in our midst unnatural. Senseless and erratic. For I came to know violence in its native sense. In our locality there are barrios known for killings including our own. Stabbing was common and it was a sub-culture among the young people and many were killed then. My mother’s cousin who was a policeman was even hacked by the son of our tenant. But the family of this murderer was associated with the cult Tadtad, performing some rituals before doing the abominable act.
The violence has waned in the past two decades but as far as I can remember nobody committed suicide for the loss of honor or due to sheer poverty. People were generally compassionate and tolerant of others and no one resorted to punishment of the extreme kind. And no one killed anyone during robbery. Respect for life is still important.
At hindsight we need to understand violence in order to prevent its possible occurrence and escalation. Laws are not enough but the concerted effort of every citizen in creating a peaceful and secure environment. Every person is important and no one has the right to take the life of anyone.
December 1, 2012