SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — To write a column is to risk being misread and misinterpreted. I speak from personal experience.
After I wrote Broken Moral Compass, my Dumaguete Metropost editors got a scathing letter from Miriam J. Davis, Swine Nutrition consultant and permanent resident of the Philippines since 1975. Miriam is appalled. Disgusted over an article she believes demeans the good name of the late Atty. Archer Baldwin Martinez.
In her letter to the editor, Miriam calls Archer Martinez as a good man. If she cares to read again the third paragraph of my column, I even go a step further by calling Archer an upright lawyer. On second thought, the right choice of words should have been upright man to rhyme with good man. She grieves the loss of a gentle lawyer. We, too, mourn the senseless loss of a fellow Sillimanian.
All I want to do in that write up was to underscore the brokenness of man-driven societies. I paraphrase Shakespeare again in a popular misquotation, “Something’s rotten in Denmark.” At the time, it was perceived that something was wrong with the political hierarchy down to the grassroots in the state of Denmark. That was in the 14th century. It is now the 21st C. Still one may apply a parallelism by saying “Something is rotten in Dumaguete.’ This is where I find myself again agreeing with Miriam’s recollection. “Atty. Martinez was patient, pleasant and kind, truly a gentleman, someone you felt comfortable and fortunate to meet in these times of chaos and turbulence seen in even small cities such as Dumaguete where ‘gentleness’ is no longer common.’
The Metropost editorial Broken Windows is speaking on the same wavelength as it tackles the issue of peace and order in the city. It seeks the application of the Broken Windows Theory in solving the peace and order problem in Dumaguete. It argues that if the theory works well in New York City and Marikina, there is no reason why it can not work wonder as well in the disrupted city of gentle people. It is behavioral. A broken and unfriendly neighborhood serves as a magnet to delinquent behavior and crime. To be lawless is to breed lawlessness. To salvage the bad elements of society is to abort due process. It is to affirm the impotence and failure of the pillars of our justice system. That is what my fellow columnist, above me, Whelma Siton-Yap is talking about. There is danger in considering extra judicial killing as a mere indicia of progress. She warns that “for whom the bell tolls, the bell tolls for thee.” It sows the seed of violence that may grow into a culture of impunity. Wasted on the way to upholding the majesty of the law, Archer is the first prominent name in Negros Oriental which has become a victim of the culture of impunity and violence.
What we are staring at are signs of the time. We are looking at our own brokenness. While man has progressed technologically beyond his wildest imagination, he has stagnated or at worse retrograde spiritually. The imbalance results in using the technological advances in unwholesome and destructive ways–internet for pornography and weapons for mass destruction.
In the ever widening chasm of man’s ways and His ways, we always have the choice–to choose life or death. Getting to the point of no option anymore but to submit our brokenness to God’s righteousness.