Moral Education and Peace in Muslim Mindanao

By Dr. Romulo Bautista

The induction by birth into a family means exposure to the ideas and ideals, traditions, cultural values and practices, and standards of that family. The family is the initial school of moral education and it is recognized as such by Article II, Section 12 of our Constitution which declares that the State shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution and the natural and primary duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for the development of moral character. The moral education in the family is mostly grounded in the informal structures of cultural values and practices, such as but not limited to, nepotism, padrino system, palusot, manana habit, ningas cogon, hard-work and loyalty, resourcefulness and adaptability, pakikiramay, utang na loob, and palabra de honor Many of these values and practices remain rooted in the students, which they carry later in their professional, political, entrepreneurial, or business practices. These values and practices color our views, appreciation, judgment, and participation in the peace process of the MILF-RP Agreement.

The induction by enrolment into the school means exposure to the role of the school in moral education. In this connection, Article XIV, Section 3 (2) of the Constitution mandates all educational institutions “to develop moral character and personal discipline” of their students. This seeks to complement the informal moral education in the family. The role of school authority in the phase of moral education is neither abstention nor intervention, but a judicious (rather than judicial) aid in developing people. In the school, the principal task of moral education is to create a moral community bound together by common interest. I think this is the kind of community that the MILF-RP Agreement seeks to establish in Muslim Mindanao.

The school, however, is not left free to do what it will under the best educational guidance. The school cannot educate against society, for society reproduces itself through its schools, and therefore imposes upon them its own conditions. ”Parity of esteem” for different types of excellence within the school is hardly possible if in society only those are highly esteemed who excel in performance measured by academic criteria. All the same, the school remains the focus of moral education, for it is in some ways a self-creating community which can form its own standards and choose its own ideas, and is not merely a subservient instrument or a reflective mirror of the society it serves.

Turning now to instruction, the first simple but all-important point to make is that instruction should be based on dependable knowledge. To involve the active participation of students in the peace process, at least, basic knowledge of the problems and issues related to war and peace is part of the professional equipments of the teacher in guiding the students in the inter-active class discussions.
Without induction, which is moral experience, there is no moral education, and without instruction, which leads to the conscious possession and evaluation of moral experience, there is no moral education. Moral experience and reflection upon it is an encounter with reality and a projection of ideals. The student is not morally educated if he is left at the level of imitation and conformity, doing what others do and what is effectively required.  The students are in the wilderness of ideas and experiences, so to say. If moral education is to transform the wilderness into a garden, the students must be empowered to learn to see the actual in the light of better and worse possibilities and to want to enlist on the side of the better. Between war and peace, we should enlist on the side of peace because peace is on the side of the better.

The Will to Live: The Underlying Moral Principle of War and Peace

If war and peace are moral phenomena, what moral reality underlies them? My reply: Our ‘will to survive’ underlies the moral phenomena of war and peace. Acting on the “leap of faith” ´of my freewill to believe, I deduced my answer from my metaphysical analysis of the following biblical passage, and I quote:

The Lord God put Adam in the Garden of Eden;
He commanded him, “You are free to eat from any tree,
But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of
Good and Evil” (Genesis 2; 15-17)

God’s commands consisted of a positive command - you are free to eat from any tree – and a negative command - you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The commands presupposed the freedom of Adam, which is signified by the term “freewhich qualified the verb “to eat”; however, Adam’s freedom emanated from his freewill which had two sides – the good will (good faith) and the bad will (bad faith) – which allowed him to choose between the positive and the negative command; the verb “to eat” signified Adam’s right to live and his duty to survive.  Behind those two commands are the basic moral laws - “do good and avoid evil” which also constituted the basic ethical codes which measured the rightness and wrongness of Adam’s moral (free) acts.  In view of the moral laws and the ethical codes, we might say that what is moral is always ethical, but what is ethical is not always moral. Hence, morally, survival is always good, but there is a right way and a wrong way to survive. Adam chose the wrong way to survive.

Survival is a metaphysical necessity (duty) which means we could not choose otherwise, but paradoxically, that necessity is what makes us psychologically free to choose. Thus, when we are hungry, we must always desire to eat because we could not desire not to survive. Precisely because we must survive, we activate our freedom to choose what, when, where, and how to eat. We are even free to abstain from eating even when we are hungry; this is a case of voluntary hunger. Since Adam, war and peace have been intermittent modes of human survival

From “Conflict of War and Peace” to “Unity of War and Peace”

There are two contrary views about war and peace. One view, ‘war and peace taken together is conflict”. The other view, “war and peace taken together is unity”. War and peace have been viewed conventionally as conflict. I propose that we should shift our view from conflict of war and peace to unity of war and peace, based on the metaphysical analysis of the following passages of the Ecclesiastes, and I quote:

“There is a time for every thing,
And a season for every activity under heavens:
A time for war and a time for peace”,(Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 8)

I do see in those passages the declaration of war and peace alternately ceasing and beginning again. I see also the unity of war and peace signified by the conjunctive “and”.  By unity I mean the state of war and peace being the two sides of our will to survive. By time I mean the interval or space between war and peace. And by season I mean the period during which war and peace run their courses.

Being a unity, war and peace are contrary modes of human survival, and as such they exclude each other, yet they are inseparable from each other and complementary to each other, each mode alternately ceasing and existing again for a time and for a season. The prevailing time and the prevailing season are what cause our freewill to alternate our modes of survival from peace to war and from war to peace.
A Rational Psychology of War and Peace

If we must choose war in order to survive, we have two sets
of alternative options,  the first, between “the war with damage to lives and properties” and “the war with lesser damage to lives and properties”, and the second, between “the war with lesser damage” and “the war with least damage”, of course we choose “the war with least damage”. The last option is our best choice but it is good only for a time and a season, because it does not eliminate war per se, rather it provokes war to become even more deadly. Hence, today we have hanging over our heads the threat of a nuclear war with its weapons of mass destruction that could cause mutual genocide or mutual annihilation of the warring parties, as well as biocide that could destroy all forms of life on earth.

If we must choose peace in order to survive, we also have two sets of alternative options, the first, between “the peace with simple benefits” and “the peace with better benefits”; the second, between “the peace with greater benefits” and “the peace with greatest benefits”; of course we shall opt for “the peace with greatest benefits”, because we always desire the greatest. But our last option is best only for a particular time and a particular season, because it is not the best choice “for all times and for all seasons”

In conclusion, I shall quote my namesake, the late UN Pres. Carlos P. Romulo, relative to resolving the global war and peace: There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interest”, Paraphrasing him, “there is no permanent peace and no permanent war, only permanent interest. The permanent interest he referred to is the survival of mankind.

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