In Australia where I grew up we do not have any subdivisions with guards and walls and fences that attempt to shut out those not living in the subdivision and provide protection and security for those who do. It was a very strange experience for me when I first arrived here in the Philippines in 1995. Whether or not subdivisions are a good thing is not the issue here. I raise this image of a supposedly protected and secure life in order to demonstrate that we cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of thinking that we are secure when in reality we are not! What do I mean? Let me try to explain.

 

A normal house in a subdivision is protected by guards at the gate of the subdivision, walls around the subdivision, walls, gates and locks around the individual house, the locks on the house itself, and in some extreme cases by a further set of private security guards at the house. This may well provide physical protection from trespassers seeking to violate the house or the people and contents of the house. However, the great irony for me is that a greater source of moral temptation is wired directly into the house and very few safeguards, if any at all, are placed on its use – namely cable TV and the internet.

 

As a priest, one is always ministering to people as regards their struggles and trials to live a moral life. I believe that the unregulated use of television and the internet in the lives of young people, particularly those not yet capable of discerning properly the moral worth of the shows that they watch and the websites that they visit, is a far greater danger to young people than the threat of physical violence. The television should never be used as a de facto babysitter for children without constant supervision. The ideas and images it projects too easily make an impression on young minds. Similarly, the use of the internet ought to be carefully regulated so that young and impressionable minds are not led astray by the countless websites that have little or no real value of education or legitimate enjoyment. Similar judgments regarding video games that promote a culture of violence are also valid here.

 

It is all very well to protect one’s self from physical violation, but let us not forget that we need to do the same thing as regards the moral formation of our young people. If we form them all well, there will be no need for protection from physical violence. It is because we are failing to do this that we find the fortresses of subdivisions necessary!