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It has been quite some time now that the prevailing issues, hot topics and shocking headlines of our newspapers and the dominant talk of the town is the apparent and seeming rise of criminal statistics and the rampant commission of various crimes, specifically those of economic in nature and background.
The root causes of crime are already well documented and researched extensively. There is no shadow of doubt that crime is primarily the outcome of multiple adverse social, economic, cultural and family conditions. Henceforth, to prevent, to eradicate, to arrest, albeit to reduce and consequently to stop crime; it is important to have an understanding of its primary roots.
I concede that the factors involve are complex and interrelated, but we can summarized the primary root causes into three main categories:
The Greek philosopher, Aristotle aptly said that: â€œPoverty is the parent of revolution and crime.â€ Hence, it is beyond dispute that there is a necessary connection or a corollary relationship between the economic system of the country and its criminality. What do I mean?
Let me further expound on my thesis.
The Question of the Economic Pie
I am specifically referring to the problem of the inequitable and unjust distribution of the economic wealth, financial benefits, material opportunities and other forms of societyâ€™s act of sharing the goods produced by the said body politic.
If this is the case, then, such society is unjust and its being unfair will create, in a certain section of the marginalized sector of society, a mass feelings of neglect, of deprivation, of abuse, exploitation, frustrations and injustices!Â
The dialectical relationship of the social sphere from that of the economic spectrum is indubitable. If logically follows, more often than not, that if the people as a whole is satisfied and utterly pleased in the way the government is spreading and sharing the economic pie, society at large is relatively peaceful, stable and free from discord, deviance, unrest and crimes.
However, as already noted, if there is no fairness and equal distribution of wealth and opportunities for all members of society in the economic sphere, sad but true, it follows that that the grim effects on our societal fabric is social injustice and economic inequality.
These are the dangerous ingredients for social unrest and mass discontent!
Thus, as Aristotle warned us thousands of years ago: social injustice and economic inequality are the very elements or the necessary requisites for revolution and crime.
The same philosopher lucidly and clearly taught us, more than two millennium ago that our characters in a great sense are being mould, nurture and develop, undoubtedly first and foremost in the four corners of our home. He categorically stated that, our concept of ethics and our ideas of morality — we learnt from our parents. Therefore, if we did not learn anything good and noble from our family or from those who raised us; there is nothing good that would come out from us that we will share to society. In the sense, we could say that, if the source is corrupted; the product without a doubt is also contaminated!
These are the hard facts! There is no institution in the entire world that can/could teach a person to be kind, to be nice, to be good/to do good and be a virtuous individual!Â Â Â Â Â Â
It is not the primary duty of the school!
It is not the only duty of the government!
That is the ultimate duty and primordial obligation of our family!
We donâ€™t come to school to be good, rather we are there to harmonize and to cultivate the goodness that is already there within us prior even to our very first day in the school. Prior to the school, our first ever school or training ground is our homes!
If we did not learnt/learned anything good in our â€˜first schoolâ€™, it is my firm position that the â€˜second schoolâ€™, the â€˜third schoolâ€™, etc. would all be useless.
Sad but true!
The Question of Social Solidarity and Responsible Citizenship
It is a basic elementary universal rule in any given democratic form of government that the its primary duty is to protect and defend the citizenâ€™s right to life, liberty, property and its pursuit of happiness. Corollary to this rule is the corresponding obligation of the citizens to obey the laws and to help the government in executing the said laws for the swift, smooth and orderly functioning of the whole body politic for the benefit of all its members and organs. These two elements must concur to produce a well-ordered society and an utterly harmonious community!
Fighting crime is not the only job of the government, specifically the police. All of us as members of this society must be involve and should be doing our own part in facing and confronting this phantom menace that now bothers and pesters our community.
Finger-pointing will bring no good. Blaming and accusation is a waste of time. What we need is to forge our collective resources to address and suppress this social detriment. To complain is not enough, what we need is to act!
Am I sponsoring vigilantism? I heard the question and my answer is YES! I am calling for a wider social engagement, civic/collective participation and communitarian volunteerism! Â
What I am trying to drive at is, for us citizens to help the system work, by relying to our very selves! Because, end of the day, we are the system!
Please consider the following proposals/suggestions:
- We, in our own neighborhood can organize the community to form a sort of a â€˜village militiaâ€™. This is based on our culture of â€œBayanihanâ€ and â€œBarangay Rondaâ€. The function of this militia is not to kill the thieves, robbers, rapists and other criminals terrorizing our community but to catch them and bring them to the relevant authorities. Again, some apathetic and cynical creatures will say: â€œbut that is the job of the police, isnâ€™t it?â€ Agree! Yet, my contention is that: if the police cannot be there in our villages and neighborhood — all the time to protect us, we must take the initiative by protecting our very selves. We help the police by helping ourselves.
- Â We must put into our school curriculum, the root causes of various crimes in whatever its nature and background; so that our students have an idea and a concept of what a crime is, why there are criminals and whatâ€™s the source of criminality.
- The media also have a role to play in curbing and addressing this social issue. They must accurately report the true state of our crime rate and propose antidote thereof. Further, they must also highlight societyâ€™s victories against crimes and criminality in general.
- We must make the effort to help and sponsor those unfortunate kids living at the various rehabilitation centers. We must show our love, care, concern and solidarity to them; so that they may grow not hating the world and they will not become menace to society due to our distance and coldness.
- We must help those numerous NGOâ€™s that seeks to rehabilitate and educate those youthful offenders, ex-convicts, habitual delinquents, deviant elements, and other lost souls who had formerly tread the dark side and walk the path of criminality.
- We practice our being responsible citizens by being, first and foremost good and responsible parents.
- We must fight and struggle for Social Justiceâ€¦
The writer has a Master’s degree in Philosophy, a law degree and a degree in AB Political Science. He was previously teaching Philosophy, Ethics and Anthropology at an institution of higher education in the Nilai University College at Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. He is currently a lecturer at the College of Arts, Department of Philosophy at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines.
As of the moment, he is preparing to publish his first book entitled “Dissidente”. It is a collection of his articles, commentaries and op-ed published by various newspapers in Southeast Asia.