Freedom and Self-Restraint

Manila Bulletin, June 19, 2004 | Go to article overview

Freedom and Self-Restraint


WE have recently been reminded of the blessings we enjoy under freedom. An Independence Day celebration is never complete without a public official recalling the heroic and valiant efforts of many Filipinos who came before us to win and defend our freedom as a people.

But any consideration of freedom is never complete unless the responsibility that comes with freedom is also emphasized. For these two freedom and responsibility always go together. Freedom, without responsibility, can be turned into a mere license, which eventually would take away the blessings that freedom is supposed to bring. And responsibility, without freedom, is the regime of despots and dictators.

As we ponder the course we must take in the next six years, one thing is clear: we need to re-orient the moral values we observe. An essential part of the process of moral re-orientation we need to undergo is the equation we should always be maintaining between freedom and responsibility.

This becomes clear as we look at a few facets of our national life today. We do have a free press, and we thank God for it. But freedom of the press is sometimes abused: often stories are aired or printed with only few kernels of truth embedded in them; their purpose is simply to attack and put a few people in a bad light. We do have a free and independent court system: but the process of judicial reforms has yet to remove all erring judges, a few of whom are even ignorant of the law. We also have a free and independent legislature: oftentimes, however, it has become the stage for horse-trading and headline-grabbing, with little consideration given to the national interest. Many more examples can be cited to highlight our natural propensity to enjoy the rights that freedom confers, without giving due heed to the duties that it imposes.

For any meaningful change to occur in our nation in the next six years, we need to start with basics, such as complementing rights with duties, and freedom with responsibility. We all have to understand that for the common good of our nation to be served, we all need to take our freedom seriously. …

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