The world, as we know it, is brimming with both positive and negative elements. While there is beauty in life, we cannot deny the fact that injustice, may it be in the form of inequality, discrimination, or oppression, haunts every nook of the world as well. The oppressed continue to be oppressed. The poor continue to grow poorer as the rich continue to get richer. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and indeed, who can refute this statement when evidence is all around us?
The existence of injustice anywhere in the world gives oppressors and abusers a sense of validation. This validation convinces them that it is acceptable to treat others however they want to. Wherever we look, there seems to be a pattern for oppression. Injustice has a starting point, usually an advantaged entity whose power is either acknowledged by society or bestowed by privilege. Then, from this starting point, acts of injustice and prejudice, no matter how small, often reach an audience. These acts then serve as the catalysts for bigger, more audacious injustices, thus beginning a never-ending cycle of power play and display.
For instance, cases of racism continue to plague America starting from the President. US President Donald Trump has, for many times, made racist remarks and even boldly declared that immigrants are not welcome in America. As a public figure and the most significant one in the United States, every move and word he makes reaches the public. So, albeit disappointing and infuriating, it comes as no surprise that even regular citizens of the United States commit divisive and prejudicial actions toward immigrants. Almost every day, there is a new reported or viral case of an immigrant or an African American being harassed, stereotyped, or told to “go back” to their own countries, and like a plague, these scenarios of discrimination are not concentrated in only a single area. It happens all over the country. It started from where the President stood as he made his remarks and spilled into every piece of land. Citizens mimic what they saw from the most powerful man in the country; hence, these people who commit such acts have found the perfect excuse for their supremacy and superiority complex: if the President does it, then they can, too.
Another case in point is evident in the Philippines. Ever since the start of his administration, President Duterte has made noise for his horrendous and bold remarks against human rights. He started the infamous war on drugs and even proclaimed that drug users and addicts must be killed without mercy. And of course, that is exactly what happened and continues to happen. Despite not having enough evidence to incriminate and not having a law that legalizes the death penalty, thousands of people have already been slain and treated as mere casualties of the bloody war on drugs – thousands of killings have been recorded and the President shows no remorse, still. Consequently, even murders unrelated to drugs continue to flood the morning and evening news. The President himself looks at drug users as animals and orders for them to be killed without hesitation, and this lack of remorse has served as the green light for people with pent-up anger and grudges to act upon what they feel as well. Instead of resolving crimes like how he promised during the campaign period, his people experience injustice either directly because of his orders or because of people who look up to him as their role model.
The President of the Philippines himself no longer upholds the law, and ill-mannered citizens have taken this as a sign that they, too, can bend the law and get away with it. Now, everybody thinks that they are above the law. Everybody thinks that they are justice. And as if this senseless confidence and arrogance are not destructive enough, the prejudice faced by people suffering from drug addiction is now being doubled. Instead of seeing drug addiction as a health issue that must be addressed through rehabilitation and medication, it is reduced into a crime horrific enough to be punishable by death. Through the words and actions of the President, people continue to be brainwashed into thinking that drug users are no longer human beings who have rights. Comments praising the administration for “getting rid” of “monsters” and “criminals” flood social media sites. Some even urge the government to go on with the killings because these people “deserve” to die, as if they are no longer people. Injustice continues to roam both public and digital spaces as people discriminate drug users and deprive them of their rights. Overall, a good sum of people still continues to support the President with their bent moral compasses and blurred visions of lawfulness, thus furthering the extrajudicial killings and validating this injustice.
Aside from his firm belief on drugs and those who use them, the President has also made sexist and misogynist statements. Perhaps one of the most striking was when he made a joke regarding an Australian woman who was raped. Circulating the internet are videos and news articles of Duterte saying that in cases such as the aforementioned, the Mayor (who was him at the time) should have been the first to do the horrendous act. What followed this incident were more rape jokes and even a sexist comment he made saying that he prefers male appointees and government officials. And like a cloudy sky, these statements’ impression rained down on the population he rules over. Sexism has become bolder and more prevalent. Men openly harass women on social media. Men post videos of themselves and their friends raping an unconscious woman. Men shamelessly make rape jokes and when called out, they respond by saying “It’s just a joke. Look, even the President makes them.” And while one might argue that sexism has always existed, the sense of affirmation that comes with a President’s actions cannot be ignored. Ordinary citizens, mostly men, now feel even more fearless with the excuse that what they do is not wrong since the head of state does it, too.
It might sound confusing at first, but there is truth in the idea that injustice prevails because of its sole existence. When justice continues to be threatened, an unwanted cycle starts, spilling over to anyone who witnesses. Injustice and prejudice only need to start for them to continue, for as long as there are those who abuse their power and seek validation to impose this power onto others, even just a small act of unfairness will go a long way. This continuous process is also the exact reason why we should never grow tired of speaking up and fighting for what is right no matter how long the battle will be. If justice continues to be threatened, then we must also be ready to continue challenging and opposing, for a cycle can only be confronted by another cycle.