The death of scru­ples

Business World - - OPINION - MARVIN A. TORT

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.

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