By Manuel Rodriguez II
The liberal person is stereotype as a militant, not often esteemed and often misunderstood. In the present Filipino culture we have lost track between political liberalism and moral liberalism, to be “liberated” now is to be an immoral person.
As I see it, the term “liberalism” is almost certainly one of the most misapprehended words in the society of Juan dela Cruz.
Perhaps the supreme fallacy of the term is that one cannot be a liberal and a God believing individual at once.
As a Christian-liberal, let me state my political view and assertion on the subject matter. It is a delusion that only politicians should have a political view, every citizen must get involved in the affairs of his State.
My liberal perspective is probably a “hybrid” of my first being a believer and a practitioner of the Christian Faith and second as an advocate of democracy and liberalism as a political system. Back in senior college I was the Chairperson of the Students’ Democratic Party which is the first student political party to be organized after the lifting of martial law and a promoter of liberalism and democracy in governance.
I do not expect all fellow liberals to agree on my perspective; many liberally-educated individuals and political scientists (and maybe the religious) may differ or oppose my personal view.
It’s OK, I have learned to accept the fact that it is uncommon to meet two liberals who would agree on a common definition of the term unless in all probability if they are a part of a same political party which has a liberal brand.
It is only normal that the liberals from different walks of life will argue among themselves regarding the definition of the term “liberal” and the principles and ideals that are anchored on it. As liberals tend to price their personal opinions, you should anticipate a flood of ideas, opinions, positions and even formulas in putting up the “ideal society.”
In my opinion, to be liberal does not mean to be a part of a political group. Liberalism is a belief. It is similar to Christianity, Islam, or any other religion however, the focus in liberalism is not the belief in a supreme being but in the belief on the attainment of the ideal society.
As a philosophy, the focus of liberalism is on the freedom of the individual. Liberals believe that in order to attain the ideal society, the individuals must be free to do the things that they want as long as it does not affect the rights of other individuals. Liberals give higher importance to the lives of the individuals rather than the life of the State; they believe that the State must be the protector of the people and not its oppressor.
Unlike the traditionalists who stick to lenience and understanding, the liberal always demand change when change is being called for, they are open to new ideas and values. He always calls for genuine reforms, but is not easy to call for arms unlike the radicals and leftists. In fact, he shuns violence as a solution.
The liberal always respect the rule of law and works within the system and not against it. He boldly presents the cancers of the society, asks the hard queries, and offer solutions.
The liberalism political thought asserts that every individual is rational and is responsible and are at the best position to choose his or her interests. Liberals believe that to go after personal interests freely and rationally would lead to the finest of all social systems.
It is in contrast to the view of the fascists and the conservatives that individuals in the social order are linked collectively in an organic whole and affix on social order. Liberals also disagree with the socialist argument that individual interest should bow down to the interest of the society as a whole.
Liberals are firm to their ideal that no principle can ever authorize the restriction of freedom in the political and economic spheres. Liberals give emphasis to equal opportunities to all, they dream of a society where the hard-working and the talented are rewarded the amount of their work. They shun the idea of equality of ends wherein people will simply receive equal shares of the economic benefits.
In my opinion, it is not wrong for liberals to profess a faith and advocate the Christian values of humility, honesty, justice, love and prayerfulness. Religious freedom is one fruit of many libertarian efforts. Liberals believe that each man must be free on his worship to a supreme being, if he chooses to worship at all.
To end, let me state the six core liberal principles that I have learned being a seeker of political knowledge. These six principles sum up everything about liberalism.
First is Individualism, or the belief that the individual is more important than the group or society where he/she belongs.
Second is Rationalism or the belief that the world is rational and it can be disclosed in the eyes of the human person through the exercise of critical inquiry.
Third is Freedom or the ability to act as one desire in agreement to self-determination.
Fourth is Responsibility or being responsible for one’s social and economic circumstance.
Fifth is Justice or the giving of every person what is due them.
And the sixth is Tolerance or the willingness to accept the views or actions that one disagrees or of which one disapproves.
This is my perspective of the liberalism political credo. As I mentioned earlier I do not expect everyone to agree and that will be fine for I respect the differing views regarding the topic and I uphold the sixth core value abovementioned.
There are many professed supporters of liberalism are at times unconfident as to what precisely their political philosophy is all about. I genuinely hope that my perspective helped those people.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY.
by Manuel A. Rodriguez II
Why am I studying? For who I am sacrificing? Partly, it was that blind belief that my parents have instilled on my mind since I was a kid. Now that I am a grown-up I realized that what was instilled on me by my parents is a blind belief in learning upon which they both had placed such reliance.
Please do not get me wrong, blind belief as it may be, but it did helped me anyway in earning a Bachelor of Arts degree back in 2009 and I thank them for that and their support.
Studying, besides being a vague struggle to escape my unwanted inheritance (poverty), which is also the inheritance of many Filipinos, it was a manifestation of a fact that exists among our fellowmen, in which accomplishment becomes a fetish.
We Filipinos have been for so long under the control of foreign powers, who look down on us from what they deem to be their pretentious standards, that our own barely audible aspirations have been strained to search for any outlet no matter what. It did not matter that our knowledge, once acquired, would be exhausted in a cramped, repressed, unproductive society.
The degree was the thing; the honor was the objective; it lifted the Filipino of the past above the sweaty mass. The educated ones are the ones with better job and more money. Education is a fetish indeed.
And yet, FETISH WAS NOT MY PURPOSE.
Before, I wanted to be a doctor. When I was in kindergarten I was inspired by then Secretary of the Department of Health who visited our school and promoted a government health program for the young like me. I and my classmates made him a thank you card because we enjoyed his visit on our school. I will never forget that man; his name is Doctor Juan Flavier.
Dr. Flavier became a senator years later after serving in DOH. Senator Flavier is now retired on public service and yet his visit on my kindergarten more than a decade ago is still very vivid in my memory. I once said to myself that I wanted to be a doctor like Doctor Juan is.
Primarily, I was interested in pediatric medicine, to save the young. My grandmother whom we are fond of calling “Nanay” told me stories from the barrios during the Japanese wartime. There she said, the people died without tasting a single medicine, died gradually, and with suffering. The “albularyos” were the tenet, muttering magic words over cancers, tuberculosis and beri-beri.
In the barrios according to my Nanay if a child died the people bowed and said: “It is the will of God,” as they had been taught by their parish. Even as a child listening to my Nanay, It was never my will to accept it that way.
Then years later, after realizing that the field of medicine is not for me, I thought of studying law. I would be a lawyer for the people particularly for the rural poor (those similarly situated with the wartime barrio people my Nanay told me). I would defend the people with all my honesty. I will the use law to their advantage and be not like the corrupt politicians who are currently in office.
During election time I listen to the candidates. Every election whether national or barangay level it was the same. “The people this, the people that.” After campaign, the word “people” was stricken from the vocabularies of the winners, who sat on their polished chairs and collected both graft and salary, equally, with both hands, form the people.
The men I admired as I grew older were all simple men who had a genuine sympathy for the people. Senator Flavier is one, for his being a doctor to the barrios, Senator Jovy Salonga for his eloquence on his faith in the public sphere, Congressman Crispin Beltran for his fortitude in advancing the interest of the working class, the militancy of Bonifacio, Rizal for his dedication, Nelson Mandela for his unselfishness.
I was impressed by Joan of Arc, Rizal, and Jesus Christ because they went to their deaths for what they believed, and their beliefs were common and of the people.
I had begun to arrive at a philosophy, “If you do it, make sure you’ll finish it and do it with all your heart. If what you will do will benefit many people, though it threatens your happiness and safety, sacrifice your happiness and safety for your noble purpose.”
Such philosophy is my answer to the question my faith had posed on me; “What Would Jesus Do?”
Initially due to the blind belief my parents have instilled, I was studying to escape the constricted confines of poor Filipinos, but my efforts only led me to the conviction that the poor Filipinos was all important, and that I was inferior to it.
GOD BLESS THE FILIPINO.
Often recalcitrant, but always principled.