Over Glo and MoralityBy Philip Dominguez Mercurio
AS THE dust settles from the firestorm that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo brought the world months ago, it’s good to ask: What could have driven Ate Glo into finally succumbing to the kidnappers’ demands?
We could all speculate on what grounds she made her decision on, whether it was to insult another administration or as payback to someone she owed. Who really knows?
I have a theory though. Perhaps it was her education.
Now, I could understand where Ate Glo is coming from. I used to go to a high school run by the same order as the one Ate Glo went to in Georgetown.
They’re known as the Jesuits, a teaching order established hundreds of years ago by the general-then-blessed-saint Ignatius of Loyola.
The essence of their teachings was to question everything and anything that can and could be questioned.
Even questioning the definition of “is” is completely acceptable as long as it seems ill-defined in the context that it was placed.
Bill Clinton could understand that. He was classmates with Arroyo.
Another important thing established by the Jesuits is their inherent conviction about having a good grasp of morality: theoretically, the concept of being able to differentiate between what’s considered good and what’s conceivably known as bad and following through on the good.
After all the theology and oratory one must go through, the morality class ends with a final exam, half of which is devoted to multiple choice questions and the other half devoted to one question and one question only.
Here, you are given a small selection of people, representing a broad spectrum of the society.
Each is given a profile, differentiating in criteria from age, sex to health and wealth.
The only problem is that this group of people has been placed in a situation where one needs to die for their group to have any chance of surviving. Your task is simple: Given this selection of people, who would you choose to die for and why?
Most people who approach this question simply use the “survival of the fittest” theory as their guide, singling out the weakest or oldest of them all and justifying why their life was worth less in comparison to the others.
Now remember, getting this question right or wrong would pretty much determine whether you passed or failed the course so having the correct answer is so essential. And wouldn’t you know it but the answer most students wrote down was nowhere close to the answer morality indicates is correct.
According to the Jesuits, no one deserved to die. Even though all might perish, no one rightly has the authority to choose who would die for the rest of the group. Anyone’s life, regardless of the situation they’re in, is valuable. And so was Angelo de la Cruz’s.
It may be said that with the capitulation of the Philippines to the demands of some rogue elements, the country has suddenly placed itself in a precarious position.
Other Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in and around the Middle East might become easy targets for the next wave of kidnappings.
Rogue elements in the Philippines may have more resolve to push around government officials for their own bidding.
And Arroyo’s whole administration would have lost its credibility to their so-called American allies and perhaps the world over.
Lo and behold, it may very well seem that the Philippines has sacrificed so much for just one life.
But as morality teaches, that was exactly the right thing to do.
In the preceding example, it was necessary to sacrifice all for the benefit of just one person’s desire to live.
It’s gamble all right in which everyone’s life becomes in danger but the fact that everyone’s life is important preceded the necessity to choose the death of one for the benefit of the remaining.
Now, who knows whether this incident would make Filipinos more of a target throughout the world. That’s just an assumption and whether or not one chooses to risk one’s life on some assumption that might happen, is truly silly.
Just remember, Filipinos in the Middle East don’t exactly get fair treatment in the states they are in. Whether or not Angelo was in the picture may not have made much of a difference.
Even if Angelo was sacrificed in the name of “willingness,” I do not foresee the Saudis or Kuwaitis treating our OFWs with any more respect and freedom than they have already. To them, they’re second-class citizens before and after de la Cruz.
Now, what really gets me is the backlash the American Filipino community has heaped upon the small shoulders of Mrs. Arroyo.
Just a few months ago, I could walk through the senior citizen centers along Sixth St. and Filipinos would ask me worriedly whether Gloria had any chance against the actor-turned-terminator, Fernando Poe Jr.
Most hoped and prayed Arroyo would be elected another six years for the stability of the country. When that happened, they were absolutely ecstatic. Oh, how times have changed.
Let me just say, for those of you who wanted Mrs. Arroyo back in office: This is the candidate whom you were so adamantly in favor of winning so you should support and respect her decision as well. They come hand in hand.
If you remember correctly from 2003, she is the type of person who would flip-flop on her promises and she wouldn’t have run again if she hadn’t done so.
If you wanted a willing participant in Bush’s war on terror, perhaps you should have voiced your approval for the other candidates.
There were many to choose from. Maybe they were willing to make the sacrifice Mrs. Arroyo wasn’t.
This isn’t the first time American Filipinos flip-flopped on the issues.
History notes the Marcoses as a brutal dictatorship, hoarding millions for themselves while stifling any opposition that stood in their way.
That same history also tends to forget that a majority of American Filipinos were surprisingly in favor of their old president.
In fact, it wasn’t until the end of his rule when most in our own community finally turned their backs on Imelda and her entourage.
As one American Filipino professor at San Francisco State notes to his students, much of the community was silent on that little piece of history.
The same could be said about other issues like the I-hotel but then again, that was all a long time ago.
Today, Arroyo faces criticism for pulling troops out of a still unstable country for the life of one OFW.
She came out on a limb for one almost lost soul and lost a chunk of American Filipino support in the process.
She was willing to challenge the status quo and place her belief in the basics of what she learned in Georgetown to the task.
It was gutsy. It was different. It may have been politically wrong but it was indeed morally correct.
Funny thing is, when we were kids, the difference between a good and bad decision was so straight-forward.
If given a question and asked whether or not it was right or wrong, we would answer it so quickly and so precisely.
As you grow older through, so many different problems, speculations and factors interplay and intertwine with what would have been a very simple answer for a child.
Things from appeasing others to reflecting on how your response would look upon other diplomatic nations become more important in weighing the equation than one person’s life.
Ate Glo hopefully remembered to reflect back and realized what was right through her inner instinct.Let me close by saying this: If her decision to pull out of Iraq was weighed more on other factors and not on the hope of saving one’s life, then I would question the means she had done to accomplish this.
But if her decision was based solely on her conviction, without the wrangling of the political schemes in her midst, then she definitely passed her morality exam with an A+. - PDM
See this article,"Over Glo and Morality" in Philippine News. Click here.