The oung vis-à-vis the culture of corruption
“Youthful rashness skips like a hare over the meshes of good counsel” (Shakespeare)
“So flee your youthful passions and pursue righteousness, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart” (1 Tim 2:22).
THE Year of the Youth has just run smack against the corrupt ways of their elders in the recent election realities in the Philippines. Not a few voters or politicians had sold and/ or bought votes. It is to the undying shame of the older generations that the young once more witnessed, and many even took active part in, buying and selling votes for local and national candidates. Votes were sold and bought in cash or, if you prefer a more refined language, “in kind”. The commercialization of the right of suffrage particularly in an impoverished island called Samar was matched only by an equally unabashed wallowing in dirty cash by local traders and business establishments. No one turned away “dirty election money” in the same way that no one held long onto it with pride. In my hometown of Borongan there has always been frenzied commerce after elections in which voters seem more than eager to part with “dirty cash” by trooping to the local malls, stores and business establishments days after the elections.
The voting population seemed too eager to part with unearned “dirty cash”, as if letting go of it through commerce somehow assuaged a conscience guilty of violating the sanctity of the ballot. How poverty violates a people’s sense of conscience is beyond me. But it is a reality that Filipinos confront every election and for which the more conscientious among them hang their heads in shame.
Naturally it is always our people’s poverty that we hold as the prime culprit. We also point to the centuries of colonialization behind us that has somehow corrupted our moral sense or which explains the lack of it among many of our otherwise gentle, smiling populace. Still, the commercialization of the right of suffrage cannot be morally justified. Unless the poverty of the masses of our people is effectively addressed the commercialization of the right of suffrage, could be in for the long haul.
But this fact exposes a deep wound in the Body of Christ in the Philippines. The local Church cannot simply point accusing fingers to, nor look down on, our teeming poor not a few of whom are compelled by economic misery to grasp at every straw to survive till the next meal. Or, if I may add, to the next opportunity to rise from abject poverty, if only for a short while. And the young are among those caught up in this maelstrom.
The young, like their adult counterparts, could also easily succumb to the lure of easy money from unscrupulous politicians or their agents. If we do not stay callous, neither will they. But, as sure as daylight, the young need the right modelling by their elders. If their elders find the commercialization of the sacred right of suffrage normal or even justifiable under the circumstances of poverty, then what is to stop the young from selling their very souls to the highest bidders?
After all, the culture of corruption is truly a corruption of our culture. And the young are its most vulnerable victims. If we do not collectively, by word and example, act in concert to address its root-causes, we might find ourselves in a moral quagmire that nothing short of divine action can take us out of.
To our young, with our young, we hold dear the words of the Apostle Paul: “So flee your youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22).