Righteous, not bitter, zeal

cimagala-thumbYES, we are meant to be zealous in our life, to be driven in anything that we do. Things have to be done with gusto, with the abiding mentality to “carpe diem.” Away with passivity, with complacency, with just mindlessly flowing with the tide. But we have to make sure that our zeal is righteous, not bitter, with clear sense of purpose, not just aimless.

Righteous zeal is always respectful of legal, juridical and most importantly of moral standards, especially that of charity and mercy. Bitter zeal wants instant results while ignoring legal and moral requirements. It may pursue a valid cause, working for truth and justice, but without taking care of the appropriate means.

Bitter zeal makes a person hasty and reckless in his assessment of things. It makes fail to consider all angles, to listen to both sides, so to speak. He is prone to imprudence.


Inflammatory, incendiary words are his main weapons. Being belligerent is his style. He relishes in rousing controversies and sowing intrigues. He’s actually not as interested in looking for the objective truth and justice as carrying out his own personal cause.

This concern is very relevant these days, since with a new administration that prides itself to effect drastic changes in our country, we just have to make sure that the changes that have to be pursued with zeal, are the good ones, proper of us as persons and ultimately as children and people of God.

We just cannot make illegitimate and immoral shortcuts, that can give us some instant benefits but leave us with greater damage whose effects we can feel only later. To the point, there is growing concern and sense of alarm over the increasing number of killings of people suspected to be involved in the drugs menace.

While it’s true that we should try our best to minimize and even to eliminate criminality in any form in our society, we should also see to it that such otherwise very legitimate concern be pursued with legal and most especially moral means. We just cannot go on with summary killings no matter how deserving a criminal may be of death.

That kind of attitude, and worse if made as an official policy, is a dangerous one whose short-run benefits can never outweigh the long-run damage it will surely cause. The end, no matter how lofty, cannot justify the means if it is illegal and immoral.

With this kind of attitude and/or policy, we will be creating a culture of death. Our respect for life would be eroded drastically. Now we can eliminate criminals. But sooner or later, that attitude can deteriorate further into eliminating anyone who can cause any kind of trouble to us. This is when abortion can come in and get legalized, and euthanasia would not be far behind.

And many other bad things can easily ensue, because while a radical good can generate more good, a radical evil can also generate more evil. Good and evil things do not come alone. They always come with a large company of their kind. What one sows, he reaps. What is sown in evil is reaped also in evil.

It’s true that we have a terrible drugs problem in our country. Some people have already considered us as a narco-state which means that “the illegal trade in narcotic drugs forms a substantial part of the economy.” We have a big problem to solve, indeed, but again this does not justify the recourse to illegal and immoral means.

Some may argue that in fighting evil, we have to use evil means also. They believe the crisis situation with respect to our drugs problem has gone beyond the normal legal and moral standards. They say that it has to be dealt with in its own terms, that is, using evil means also.

I don’t know where they get that principle, but it certainly is not human, much less, Christian. It’s a principle, I believe, that betrays a certain kind of profound desperation,  and a sense of righteousness that definitely is not from God but from one’s own version, or what is known as self-righteousness.

It’s taking the law, both the juridical and moral, into their own hands. It implicitly tells us that the good and the moral has to surrender to evil and the immoral.

Others may still argue that following the normal legal and moral recourses are bound to fail because they do not teeth enough to tackle this problem. But that’s the challenge. We can always toughen up our juridical and moral systems to cope with this crisis. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)

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