Logic 101

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

IT does not surprise me. Still, it deeply disappoints me that practically all of the politicians in our country who are accused of corruption come up with an extremely predictable but lame defense—I’m not the only one doing this.

We deflect our transgressions by pointing to others’ transgressions, real, concocted or imagined.

One would imagine that when we are accused of something, we would come up with a more logical, less laughable defense—one that actually negates the accusation like evidence to the contrary. In our country, however, people seem to have a different idea of defense.


And this defense, I believe, sadly reflects our collective sense of morality. After all, how could anyone have the gall to present such a lame not to mention ludicrous defense to a nation of supposedly sound and thinking people.

We defend ourselves by perfunctorily saying that we are not guilty and then we proceed to rant about how scores others are guilty of the same crime we have been accused of. It’s the same defense touted by politician upon politician. Do they have the same speechwriter? Because I seriously doubt the existence of any legal expert who would give such asinine advice.

What are we saying here? That in the event we are found guilty (though we completely deny any wrongdoing of course), we should not
be punished because we simply did what everyone was doing? What is this? Not guilty by reason of mob mentality? Not guilty by reason of normalcy?

Everyone’s doing it. It can’t be wrong. It’s the norm. But is what is normal necessarily right?

When a group of men you are with decides to sexually assault a woman, do you feel it is all right to participate since everyone is doing it anyway?

The actions of the mob do not necessarily dictate morality.

What do the actions of others have to do with our own? Nothing. Shared guilt does not exonerate any one of us from the crime we choose to participate in.

When a parent pounces on a teen-ager’s misdemeanors, the teen-ager replies, “Everyone’s doing it.” This could be true. But this doesn’t make it right. This is the most important lesson we all need to learn in life.

The misdeeds of others do not negate ours. Whether or not A, B, C, D and scores others are guilty is irrelevant. They are not on trial. WE ARE. If they are found guilty as well then we are ALL guilty but none of us are innocent.

When we are accused of wrongdoing, we defend ourselves by showing proof that we are innocent. We do not defend ourselves by bringing up other people’s misconduct. They answer for their actions. We answer for ours.

The actions of others do not determine our sense of right and wrong. It is absurd to rationalize that if everyone is doing it, it can’t be wrong. One has to distinguish between normalcy and morality.

Erich Fromm said, “What is normal is not necessarily sane.” To this I add, what is normal is not necessarily right.

It deeply disappoints me that many young people these days justify their actions by the conduct of their peers. But I am not surprised. We have senators using this type of flawed, juvenile logic too.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 26, 2014.


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