We have seen in the past six weeks a laser-like focus on the need to rid the country of the scourge of drug addiction. We know the pernicious effect of drugs – on the individual, on the family, on the community and on the country as a whole. It breaks my heart to see how tragic are the lives of those who use chemicals to numb themselves against their inner pain or to hide within their fears. Historically we know that it is close to impossible to eradicate this problem but we all must do what we can to bring it under control where the pushers are brought to justice and the users are given a path to wellness. The question is – how? Violence or Non-violence?
At Assumption College San Lorenzo, we are deeply disturbed by the summary killings of alleged drug pushers and users, often in areas where the poor and underprivileged live. The high numbers (over 500 deaths to date) suggest that our law enforcers may be taking the law into their hands, instead of arresting them and bringing them to court for due processing. If we want to maintain our democracy we cannot allow ourselves to fall into a military state. We espouse the path of non-violence.
Therefore, we cannot merely stand by and feel agrieved. We need to speak. We are against controlling society with guns. Yes, we need to bring drug lords to justice and we also need to clean up our courts so that the guilty cannot buy their way out. In this area we only have a voice. However, there is a space where we, teachers, can do more. The root of drug addiction is a lack of meaning in life. The answer to drug addiction is education. It is the non-violent route but it is a slow process. It takes time and consistency so we sometimes become impatient. Still, it is the best solution.
Our school upholds an inner respect for the law. As teachers, we demonstrate how we can take a personal stand against injustice; show the way to a deep compassion for the most vulnerable; and encourage empathy not only for those who are trapped by their addiction but also for the pushers who are captured by the money they make on other people’s tragedy. We do not believe that there are two camps: the good and the bad. We do not put ourselves above anyone else. We believe that we are one in God and we are responsible for each other. God became one of us in Christ who showed us a path of non-violence – to that we commit ourselves.
Dr. Carmen Lourdes Valdés
President, Assumption College
San Lorenzo Village, Makati