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Broken moral compass


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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — I read the news on Facebook and the Dumaguete Metropost. The bad news went viral on the Internet for all Dumagueteneos all over the Globe. Atty. Archer Baldwin Martinez was felled Aug. 5 by an assassin’s bullets right inside in his Dumaguete City Office.

By free association, Shakespeare’s famous quote on lawyers from Henry VI came to mind. “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

I wondered. I surfed cyberspace. From the 21st century, I wandered into the 14h century to find out what Shakespeare meant while the City of Gentle People was/is burning with rage over the wanton killing of an upright lawyer.

Gov. Roel Degamo asserted, “No amount of anger can justify the taking of a man’s life,” as he branded it a cowardly act. City Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria viewed the Martinez killing as a “shock to the peace-loving residents” of Dumaguete.Negros Oriental lawyers wore black arm bands until Archer’s funeral and burial. They raised more than a half a million peso reward for information leading to the early solution of the case.

From the Law Blog, I learned the oft-repeated line is not an attack on the profession at all, but an acknowledgment of the lawyers’ importance to society in upholding the majesty of the law, in upholding the rule of law and order.

Lawyers are in the forefront against the criminal minds and the mob who are out to undermine the rule of law.

To Shakespeare, however, it is not always what meets the eye. Even in Shakespeare’s time, one acknowledged the power of lawyers to “undo a man.” Shakespeare’s animated characters — Cade and Dick the Butcher — are represented as ridiculously impractical in their efforts to raise rebellion. Yet, their oft-quoted cries, even now, play to the perennial unpopularity of lawyers in the eyes of the common people.

The Law Blog says “The fantasy of killing them all is a fantasy of freedom from the Law.”

The problem, then and now, is a problem of a broken moral compass. Then in Shakespeare’s 14thC and now in our 21stC, mankind is confronted with the chronic and serious moral compass malfunction when a critical mass of society could no longer distinguish the right from the wrong.

What is happening? Only the high and the mighty can hire the bright and talented lawyers. The exorbitant fees are beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. The poor can still avail of mediocre lawyers but only as rubber stamps to the flawed human justice when lawyers-for-hire can get away from the long reach of the law through mere technicalities or just delaying the court trials.

Besides, when lawyers-for hire fail, the mighty and the haughty can always fall back on their killers-for-hire in resorting to the prevailing culture of impunity and violence.

What is going on? The moral breakdown is larger and foreboding on a national scale.

Recent images are more than enough to paint black the foreboding. The luxury cars for Bishops in reaching out for the poor, PNP’s acquisition of old helicopters purchased as new, and calls for forgiveness and moving on without the corresponding repentance and justice to past wrongs, to mention only a few.

What’s going on? London is burning when young people ran riot, destroying almost everything in their paths. World economies are collapsing — Spain, Greece. and the USA. As William Butler Yeats said in The Second Coming, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

This is the grim foreboding when self righteousness, in place of God’s righteousness, becomes the anchor leg of our broken moral compass.

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