It seems there are a lot of outlaws or lawless elements hiding in plain view in our society.
Purported rice smugglers going about their business with a phalanx of lawyers, people who take the law into their hands and then commit crimes in the name of “justice,” people with aliases for dubious purposes, environmental degraders posing as business people, police committing crimes from shootouts among their own to escorting criminal elements or even partnering with them in crime. Or, entrepreneurially shaking down citizens for their private fortune-building. Let us not forget the legislators or so-called lawmakers who use the law for their own purposes resulting in public arrogance, conspicuous and criminal consumption in this country with poverty levels that can compete with any in the world, public officials acting as public masters rather than public servants in the process stepping on the poor and needy or scheming for bribes from those who need their services, church officials influence peddling and walking and using the corridors of worldly power while using grave threats and coercion on folk who refuse to heed their demands for power or their ignorant accusations, members of the judiciary transacting justice on the basis of lucre and ambition, landgrabbers, destroyers of forests, seascapes, water resources and land. We also have the exploiters of the indigenous people, the usurers, those who sell protection or live off extortion. And we can’t leave out some in the media for their own brand of livelihood that perverts the truth.
All the above are criminals doing their activities in everyday life as we know it. None of them are bothered unless some sudden spotlight is shown on them precipitated by a serious anomaly or emergency that is traced to its source.
There is no rule of law that is impressive enough to keep us confident that when crime touches us in one form or another we will get redress whether in the form of being taken seriously, seeing that the grievance is righted or that we will not be alone to deal with it.
This may seem like a dark vision but in one form or another it does descend on ordinary citizens in the course of daily life from what they experience, what they notice and what they get to know.
There are many kingdoms of darkness here, specially in government offices and in lucrative illegal occupations that bring on sudden riches. Think of the Bureau of Customs where the head is fighting fires day in and day out and kept from noticing subterranean mayhem in his territory from decades of entrenched evil and lawlessness which only the long-lived criminals know about and of course, keep to themselves. Think of people enriched beyond reason from scams perpetuated on their fellow citizens. Think influential criminals or convicted persons who will never see the inside of a jail even for an overnight detention.
So, it is immediately attention-getting when someone in a high government position stands up to do right, or when a public official acts on injustice and corruption, or, when someone tells it like it is. Then there is a resurgence of hope, a setting aside of disappointment and a willingness to listen to the call for better law enforcement, more equality under the law, news of moves to curb criminals in the act and hauling them off to face charges of breaking the law. We all yearn for justice and will keep on yearning till the end of our days.
Hope springs eternal. There is always someone who will stand up and denounce criminality or fight it or rally against it. Usually, an unexpected and previously unknown or disregarded personality who has the knowledge and the experience of it, and that somewhere along the way figures out what has to be done and does it.
When this happens there is a general epiphany and those who never knew know, those who ignored it stop and notice, those who did not act now act. When ignorance and indifference are brushed aside, when people get good and mad, anomalies get rectified.
But someone acting on behalf of justice has to lead the way. Thank God for the whistleblowers, the high government officials who walk the straight and narrow path and demand the same from their subordinates, the media that unflinchingly tells the truth, the private citizens who stand up to fight, the public that sides with the law and acts upon it. Then criminality is seen for what it is and courage against it becomes contagious.
With all that we have seen and all that we have learned, it matters that we be courageous enough to take the path of rectitude as we go on towards 2014.