Ethics of War

Have you ever heard war ethics? I mean really? You are going to war and yet you still have to think about what is the most ethical thing to do. But actually, this has existed for centuries. Back in college, when I had to choose an elective, I was very interested in this topic. I thought that it would discuss Pacifists views and our professor will only teach us that it is bad to go to war; that it was unethical to go to war. But I was very surprised upon taking the course that there are really ethical decisions and actions before starting a war, during an on-going war and even after the rain of bullets stop.

I do not think I am an absolute pacifist because I am confrontational as a person. I think perhaps I am a conditional pacifist wherein I believe that there are some situations when war is inevitable and not waging war would only translate to more damage and deaths. The ethics of war however was a whole lot of rules and regulations and it totally makes sense and at the same it does not make sense for me. War is not ethical for me in any way since there will be deliberate killings and death will be inevitable. There will surely be destruction and extreme aggression. The word war even came from the Old High German language word “Werran”, which means to cause confusion. So what is ethical about it?

First things first, war must be the last resort, meaning every possible non- violent way should be exhausted before waging war. A society should always value lives at risk when going to war so they can first use diplomacy or economic sanctions. But what if war is really necessary? Like what happened in World War II when the Nazi rounded Jews and had a killing spree; there was human rights violation. In that case, I think the war declared against the Germans was ethical. Was it worth the sacrifice? I would like to think so. I could only imagine if Hitler’s reign and principles continued until modern times, who would he be killing next? There is an argument that it would be morally right to go to war sooner than later because there would be more damage if the situation is not dealt with as soon as possible.

Next I remember are the war crimes. Again, this does not make sense to me. Killing is a crime and yet going to war is the biggest crimes but within that crime, there are still war crimes. The horrific events have always been the nature of war.

Violations of the laws or customs of war are:

  • Atrocities or offences against persons or property, constituting violations of the laws or customs of war
  • murder, ill treatment or deportation to slave labour or for any other purpose of the civilian population in occupied territory
  • murder or ill treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas
  • killing of hostages
  • torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments
  • plunder of public or private property
  • wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages
  • devastation not justified by military necessity

But these war crimes are only punishable once war ends and the justice will lie on the victor of the war. If the Nazi won the World War II, who will be punished? Who will be sanctioned? The Allied forces would be the one to suffer. What Winston Churchill said comes to my mind “History is written by the victors”. Would it be fair for the victors to judge those who lost the war? I am unsure.

I would like to close my trail of thought with St. Augustine’s statement, “We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace. Be peaceful, therefore in warring, so that you may vanquish those whom you war against, and bring them to the prosperity of peace.”

 

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“Usefool”

June 1, 2017 would have been any ordinary day for everyone in the metro if not for that one gunman who had the guts to rob a well-known casino. It was crazy. It was messy. It was a fiasco. I do not want to dwell on the details of what happened, it is now done and it is only right that victims are given justice. I hope that the victims are given what is due to them and much more. Their families and friends must be so shattered knowing that they would not be able to talk to them anymore. It would have been heartbreaking if I was one of the orphaned because of the incident and even so, it was already distressing to know a few people who were almost caught in the incident. I really hope that this does not become a trend like what happens in the United States. But, I would want to talk about something else.

It was shocking for me to have experienced and watched social media transform from a friendly network to where terror was actually spread. Was it not enough that there was something as bad happening in the said casino? People in the famous social media sites had gone insane writing and sharing about how the infamous terrorist of modern times has penetrated our capital; that this group has started to administer terror in Manila. I have encountered lots of posts “confirming” information that are not even verified yet and that for me is terrorism itself but in a different form. I perceive those actions as irresponsible handling of information just as terrorism is irresponsible handling of power.

I have mentioned before in my first entry that I wish people were careful enough to use Social media, a modern god of the people. It is a very powerful tool with both advantages and disadvantages. It could be put into good use for educating, for doing business, for spreading current events, for communicating – it is actually very useful. Some people are already dependent to social media as their source of income and; who would ever deny the fact that it is very entertaining and convenient to access your friends, your family and whatever is happening in their lives at that exact moment at the click of a mouse?

What happened last June 1 was not the first time that social media was utilized to spread false information. There have been multiple situations already and yet users seem to become more and more gullible every single time. Social media has not only become useful, but rather “usefool”.

I always say this in the platform whenever there are issues , “Nakapag-facebook lang edukado na agad”. I can roughly translate it to English as “One feels educated by just joining Facebook”.  I do not mean to insult those who are illiterate and I apologize if there is someone offended by my words; it is merely my frustration talking.

“Think before you post”. I don’t recommend for people to just think. I beg that we (including I) should research first and pause for a moment, be mindful of the possible effects, before we post something on our walls. We should be able to ask ourselves, “What will happen if I post this?” and/or “Will I offend somebody?” and/or even as simple as “Is this the truth?”

Freedom is a responsibility therefore freedom of speech is also a responsibility. It is not only the responsibility of those in mass communication or those in the advertising industry. We are allowed to use this medium to voice out our opinion, post our pictures, share each moment of our lives but we should not be abusive of that freedom because it is also a fact that whatever we post could be used against us. We should be perceptive of the topics that could be shared and those that can be kept to ourselves or even issues that are best talked about privately.

The Adopted

I am an adopted child.

I have known it since I was seventeen years old… well I mean officially known it since then. My grandmother had been telling me that I am ‘ampon’ even when I was six years old, every time we fought. I don’t remember how many times I’ve heard it and how many times I failed to believe it. Before I turned 18, this time I confirmed it, I was not hurt anymore after hearing it a billion times and somehow I felt liberated.

It started when my Mama asked me to tell my Aunt, who was supposed to call that day, that she will be one of the godmothers of my adopted brother. Yes. I have an adopted younger brother. When I told her about it she responded, “ahh, magaampon ULIT sila”. (Oh they’re going to adopt AGAIN.) And so I thought, who was the first one to be adopted? Our dog?

I searched everywhere for any evidence as I’m not good in judging who looks and not looks like family. I don’t know, I never noticed that we have different eyes, that we have different noses, that we were just not similar in any way. My Mama, my Papa and I don’t look the same. Until I found my original birth certificate and my adoption papers lying at the top of the file cabinet, I thought I was the biological daughter of my parents.

I don’t remember crying. I just remembered staring and I kept the secret for 3 whole months before I finally told my mom that I knew. I wanted to meet them, my biological family. My adoption papers stated that I was the 6th of the 8 children, so I kept wondering who they were; what my biological parents are like; how many sisters and brothers I have. I asked to meet them and my Mama and Papa agreed. I’ve know them for about ten years now. I appreciated knowing them. I have loved being able to talk to them. I adored the feeling of having different families for whom I can be different and independent at the same time.

Last weekend, I got to see two of my sisters. We just gather once in a while whenever I’m free then eat and drink together. It was also the first time they opened up about how they were brought up. I never asked because I just assumed that life was hard, that they had struggled every day and they didn’t want to talk about it, thus I got adopted. But my understanding has deepened even more. It was the first time that I heard of it, but my sisters told me, back then, when they felt so low and hurt, they would say “Sana ako na lang si Maris.” It broke my heart into a million pieces and I could not even totally understand why. Those words touched my soul and it made me more self-aware and at the same time, how much I wanted to be part of my biological family. They didn’t value education as much as I did, not because they were not interested, but it was because they did not have enough to buy separate notebooks for each subject. They would be scolded if they ask twenty pesos for a project, so they would only submit a project if money was not involved. I now understand that education plays a key purpose in life. Children would not see the importance of education if it was not encouraged by parents. My biological family was one of many Philippine poverty stories.

I have become more aware that I love my Mama and my Papa and my younger brother. I love them with all my heart and I know for myself that I will never regret having them as my family. I will never want my life to be different. I count myself lucky for having been adopted, and I have never rebelled. In fact, I pushed myself in school so I can graduate with flying colours and make them really proud. Every adult decision in my life was inspired by them. I wanted to make perfect decisions, if not the best decisions in life because I never want them to be disappointed. I owe them everything and I feel gratitude for having been loved and humbled by their presence in my life. They have changed my life in ways unimaginable. If I was not adopted, what would have become of me? I still wonder but I have become at peace with the fact that my biological family is still my family but my adoptive family is my family.

 

El Señor de La Salle

I am currently taking up MBA in De La Salle University and one of the courses require us to watch El Señor de La Salle, a movie produced in 1964. I have to admit that I had challenges with my attention span because the movie is really old. However, I have come to know more about the school master who started the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian School and came to be the present patron saint of teachers.

St. John Baptist de La Salle was originally a Canon of the Rheims Cathedral in France. From the movie, a beggar said that they are rich priests. It is a title that St. John gave up in order educate the poor. He had taken other risks for his mission like sacrificing his own wealth, even his relationship with his family and receiving many criticisms from the upper-class society. Despite all that, he believed that educating the poor is his life mission. His whole energy was dedicated to achieving his goal and like him I would also want to dedicate myself into accomplishing my life goals. My ambitions may not be as great as St. John’s but his life has added to my inspirations and I believe that with ample work, effort, and sacrifices and the right timing, I know that I would be able to attain my aspirations.

It all began when Nyel, a school master, sought out the help of St. John to build a school that would teach poor children for free. They met in the Convent of the Infant of Jesus where they met with the the mother superior. St. John was there to tell the mother superior that her request was denied. Though it was not really elaborated what the mother superior requested, I could tell that the nun was one with Nyel´s mission: to provide education. The church during that time had deemed it not necessary and that for them there are other more important projects to be funded like aqueducts, markets and other facilities. It is still the case until now, that education is given such a small regard, such little importance in our society. It probably is the reason why in our modern day society, the rich still become richer and the poor become poorer.

St. John also said that education is a luxury that some people don’t need nor afford which made me realize that they had the same problem as what we have now. I feel heartbroken that 360 or so years after, St. John’s problem remains the same; the world still considers attending school a privilege and not a right. St. John had to be innovative because tutoring is expensive and so the Brothers of the Christian Schools had invented the first classrooms where mass teaching was first introduced to society. Even then it was necessary to innovate methods and remodel processes in order to initiate advancement of education. In modern times, the world-wide web has been a crucial tool that disseminates information. Nonetheless, many people have also used this invention to spread false knowledge and execute other illegal transactions such as child pornography and human trafficking. I just hope that more and more people would be more responsible in using the internet.

St. John wanted to understand the conditions of the poor. He wanted to know what they needed and he wanted to provide it to them. But I think that he is greater than that because he just did not want to provide for the poor but he wanted to enable them to take themselves up out of poverty. He was a great servant-leader as he treated the school masters as his own brothers. When he sold his house to live in the cradle of the Institution, he had truly become a poor man and there they had fully depended on God.

St. John Baptiste de La Salle has surely changed lots of lives through education. He has mentored lots of teachers and even changed Andre’s life from being a thief without real purpose to being an educator. Even if I cannot do what St. John was able to do, if each of us can only change one person’s life and the deed multiplies, it will surely make a big difference in our world. He was loved by his students and followers because of his devotion to give free education. He has become a father to his students and imbibed in them strong faith and devotion to God. I realized that this should humble us all. In as much as what happens to our life is our decisions and doings, we must never forget that our faith in God is very essential. He will always provide for those who are needy and those who trust in Him.

You may click the link below for the movie. Enjoy!