The death of scruples
Ihave come to the conclusion that in this modern day and age, that scruple is dying. Technology may be partly to blame, in the manner that it has made relationships less personal. People seem less concerned now with values and morality and propriety — with the strong motivation for profit or gain seemingly weakening the sense of right and wrong.
And this “change” or transition appears to have become more apparent through the generations. Certain “codes” or traditions are no longer generally observed — like getting “dressed” for going out, or keeping proper decorum when in public, or, following rules even when no one is looking, or keeping one’s word no matter what.
“Scruple” is a word not so often used nowadays, the same goes for “decorum” or “etiquette.” In fact, the use of these words can quickly remind particularly the younger generation of old stories of “strict parents,” of “conservative” ways, of not-so-gentle reminders from a leather belt of the importance of “good manners,” and of curtailed pubescent and teenage freedoms.
Invariably, liberal thinking or the emphasis on individual freedom, and encouraging the practice of democracy in homes, in the last 40 years have helped produce “enlightened” generations. But, I am also inclined to think that for some reason, we have diminished our sense of honor, integrity, discipline, and fortitude in the face of pain and adversity.
We have become less scandalized by reports of corruption and thievery, of rape, and murder. We have come to expect our politicians and bureaucrats to be corrupt, and to serve themselves first before their publics. And, we are no longer surprised when we hear of collusion between politicians and criminals, and of policemen being hired as assassins or hitmen. Where have we gone wrong? Can we not bring back the old days, the old values, the old traditions that somehow remain relevant to present lives? What will it take for our children and our children’s children revive some of the “old ways” that have kept us on the side of what is good and right, and mindful of others?
The former South Korean president Park Chung-hee comes to mind. One can say a lot of negative things about Park, but despite all his shortcomings as a leader, he was never a crook. Several reports have noted that at the time he was assassinated by his own intelligence people in 1979, he actually owned only one piece of property, which was an old apartment that he had bought before he became president in 1961. He was president for 18 years, and yet he never enriched himself.
Closer to home, we can think of Jesse Robredo, the former Interior secretary who died in a plane crash.
Before joining the Aquino II Cabinet, he was mayor of Naga City in Camarines Sur for several terms. He lived a relatively modest life as a local official and as a Cabinet member. He never enriched himself while in office, and his constituents loved and remember him for that.
And, of course, there is our very own president Ramon Magsaysay, who also died in a plane crash, in Cebu in 1957. He was president for almost four years, and had been in Congress and in the Cabinet prior to winning the presidential race in 1953.
At the time of his death, he reportedly owned only one piece of property as well — his old house in Singalong, Manila that was built before the World War II.
There are many stories about how Magsaysay conducted himself as a public official, including how he had instructed the
“Just do it” just don’t cut it, anymore.