In the world today, we see a great struggle between those who have deeply held beliefs about the value and dignity of the human person and those who do not. Most people treasure their own survival, life and dignity and their right to live in peace and prosperity in a society based on the rule of just law and civilised behavior.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an international statement that enshrines these great values and all nations have sworn to uphold them. It is the result of a tragic history of European wars, the last one that ended a mere 70 years ago killed up to 40 million people.
Those who believe that human dignity is a spiritual value and has a divine origin give their lives to uphold these values and spread them by word and deed to preserve and nourish all life especially to help the most oppressed and exploited people. This love of life includes animal and plant life, the earth and its climate that sustains life on the planet. Life flourishes when there is mutual respect, compassion, love and equality for all.
There are those with the opposite belief -that life in this world has no real value and dying is better than living. Through war they spread hatred and violence. They do not respect life, not even their own, it seems, except to end it in battle. They believe that to die as a holy warrior is a glorious martyrdom that brings them to paradise.
This helps explain their ferocity in attacking and butchering perceived enemies. They believe these goals and outcomes are worthy of the holy warrior in the service of an ill-defined god, ideology or state. They brainwash and convince others that death is the most desirable of all. They recruit young people and encourage them to kill and rape and become suicide bombers. Anyone not with them is against them and must be exterminated.
Their goal is to rule others by fear of bloody execution, the bloodier and more frequent, the better. Hence they broadcast their executions. For them there is no need for a trial, no witnesses or evidence is required. A plea of innocence has no place, they are judged guilty in absence and the execution order is given. They are the ultimate death squads. Hundreds of bodies are later found in mass graves.
This is the force of evil wearing the thin veil of religious zealotry and they boast and are proud to be associated with such killing. They spread it through the media to enhance their image as a force to be feared and to build their sense of power over others and it drives them to rape and abuse even young children. Such power gives them impunity. They believe that they are not accountable to anyone.
In between these two opposing groups of the good and the bad, there are many neither one or the other. Then there is the ugly.
This is a group of people found in most countries and here in the Philippines, they need to cloth them in the mantel of respectability and associate themselves with the institutions of virtue in order to gain political or economic power and then continue secretly, or not so secretly, to do the bad.
They use force to oppress the poor, steal the land and destroy the environment in the name of progress and profits in cahoots with foreign interests. But the ugliest of them all is the politicians with death squads masquerading as public servants.
They issue threats of execution and impose the death penalty for so-called unspecified crimes, crimes that are not investigated, are undocumented, unknown and for which there is no evidence, no accusers, or prosecution and trial. They are judged guilty and killed. It is state sanctioned murder. For them, no evidence and proof of guilt is needed to condemn the suspects. It is goodbye to the Rule of Law, hello to ISIS.
They point a finger, utter a name, send a text, make a call and the victims – journalists, pastors, priests, human rights workers, even street children – are killed. Who is the master of the death squad?
It is the way of some powerful politicians to assert and hold power over others from whom they demand submission and docility, praise and adulation. It is murder on a grand scale and that is the price a city must pay for their prosperity they say, or is it?
It is a ruling system of tyrannical dictatorship in a fake democracy. It is killing done in the name of public service. How gullible and ignorant are those who swallow that lie and praise the tyrants and their “safe” cities.
Anyone who challenges their rule and their power can be a suspect and that means summary execution. That could be you or me unless the media and all who want justice unite and speak out together against the masters of the death squads and call on the good people to act for justice and protect the innocent.
(Fr. Shay Cullen)