Dr. Romulo G. Bautista, Ph.D.
Social Ethics Society
Social Ethics Society for Social Protest and Social Justice
If you witness a crime against humanity or nature, should you be compelled to take action or simply redirect your attention and pretend nothing is happening? If you do such thing, would you not become an accessory to the crime through your own inaction? Would you not lose your soul a little bit and over time become disempowered and disenfranchised?
Think of crime like this. We all have personal space surrounding us. If someone invades that space we feel it and are forced to react. We need to create boundaries to delineate and define ourselves. This space extends to include our beliefs and the environment about us. Taking action can be anything from picking up the telephone and blowing the whistle, signing petition by clicking the mouse, or even joining a street march with a placard. The more physically engaged we become in action, the more tangible our reality is. And the more grounded and ultimately, more empowered we become.
I believe that social protest is good for health and promotes longevity. Social protest is a public expression of who we are and of our values. Social protest is about social justice. It is a way of engaging dynamically with the world in which we live.
Non-violent Social Protest and Social Media
We need not actually participate in street social protest conducted Many street social protests have provoked violent reaction. Our alternative is to engage dynamically in a non-violent social protest right inside our homes thru social media of Internet.
We are living in the Age of Digital Technology. We are enabled to pursue non-violent social protest for social justice right at home thru social media, such as but not limited to, Twitter and Facebook, of Internet. Thru the social media, we could reach at fastest and earliest time to a bigger audience to promote a non-violent social protest. Thru social media, we can harness the power of the people to destroy the status quo of social injustice which is the fortune of majority of small Filipinos.
Social Change starts with One Voice
Social change does not happen on its own, it starts with one voice. Change
begins with “my one voice” of social protest for social justice -- “ako ang simula
ng pagbabago sa lipunan”, as ABS-CBN aptly puts it.
Our country is in moral crisis. In times of moral crisis, there are people or group of people who resort to social protest in order to be heard. But social protest needs to be peaceful. But when there is violence during such protest, violence emanates from reaction. Forced change is short-lived and can be even damaging. We need to act with the knowledge and belief that if we are doing the right thing, then the doors will eventually open for us. We just need to keep banging them and making them heard,
Promotion of Peaceful Social Protest
Social protest should be peaceful. We have been nurtured in the belief that in our democracy, we are free to disagree with a law but so long as it remains in force, we have a prima facie obligation to obey it. The belief is justified on the moral ground that this procedures enables us to escape the twin evils of tyranny and anarchy. Tyranny is avoided by virtue of the freedom and power of dissent to win unforced consent of the community. Anarchy is avoided by reliance on due process, the recognition that there is a right way to correct a wrong, and a wrong way to secure a right.
Primacy of Morality to Law, Centrality of Intelligence to Morality
We should recognize the primacy of morality to law, but unless we recognize the centrality of intelligence to morality, we stumble with blind self-righteousness into moral disaster. In this light, it is stressed that social protest must be non-violent – peaceful not only in form but in actuality. After all, the violent protesters are seeking to dramatize a great evil that the community allegedly been unable to overcome because of complacency or moral weakness. Therefore, they must avoid the guilt of imposing hardship or harm on others who in the nature of the case can hardly be responsible for the situation under protest. Passive resistance should not be utilized merely as a safer or more effective strategy than active resistance of imposing their wills on others.
Argument for Violent Social Protest
Those who argue for a violent social protest assert that our existing political realities do not provide meaningful channels for the expression of peaceful dissent and non-violent social protest. They argue that genuine social change and social progress do not come by enactment of laws, by appeal to the good will of conscience of one’s fellow citizens, but by obstructions which interfere with the functioning of the system itself., by actions whose nuisance value is so high that the Establishment finds it easier to be decent and yield to demand than to be obdurate and oppose them.
The impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona of the Supreme Court is one of numerous social phenomena which reveal the growing mood of disregarding reasonableness and morality in this country, because to be moral is to be “square in the circle” in our country’s political realities.
In a democracy such as ours, we cannot make an absolute to anything except “the moral obligation to be intelligent”, but more than ever we must stress that dissent and social protest be combined on moral grounds, otherwise the consequence are tyranny and anarchy.