Sunday, August 23, 2009

Banality of Evil

While reading last month's Newsweek, we chanced upon an article that mentioned "the banality of evil," a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt who watched the trial in Israel of the infamous Nazi, Adolf Eichmann. In her book, she theorized that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal.

That is how one may explain the actions and deeds (misdeeds) of our leaders and officials in government who wantonly and brazenly cheat, lie, and steal. In a nation that prides itself as the only Catholic country in Southeast Asia, we are certainly one of the most corrupt, if not the most corrupt. The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) survey in 2008 placed our country as the most corrupt, only to be displaced by Indonesia as no.1 in its 2009 survey. And the PERC surveys cover 14 Asian countries plus Australia.

No wonder then that individuals like Baladjay, Tibayan, Mateo, Hao and the most recent monster, Celso de los Angeles, thrive in a country like ours. The two million peso question: Would this scam artists have prospered without the blessings of powerful politicians and government officials? We would have to say that there was no way for Celso and his ilk to have flourished for years without the connivance of the powers-that-be. In Celso's case, SEC and BSP have been implicated. The conduct of evil is now so normal in our society that men have come to accept evil as not unusual; in fact, it seems that doing good is getting to be the exception to the rule of evil.

But if these shenanigans and criminal acts are done by Catholics, does this mean that they do not believe that what they are doing (have done) is against God? We are of the opinion that they know that it is a crime to lie, cheat, steal and scam, but simply find ways to justify it. And this miscreants believe that all they have to do is repent before they die, and they will be forgiven by God.

But what about the thousands and thousands of lives and families ruined by their acts and now have to live in poverty and misery? Eichmann was kidnapped by the Israelites so as to be tried for his crimes while he was alive: he was convicted and hanged in 1962. Sometimes, we wish that the NPAs and Abu Sayyafs would kidnap corrupt governments officials, politicians and criminals like Celso and Hao, and let pay them for their crimes as Eichmann did.

1 comment:

  1. The irony about the Philippines is that most Catholics who are supposedly god-loving, god-fearing are the ones who are truly selfish in nature. They are actually hiding under the cloak of Catholicism. For me, they are so delusional, they believe it is acceptable to be selfish as long as you go to church every Sunday.