Dean, De La Salle University-College of Law
Keynote address, AIESEC YouthSpeak Forum, 17 June 2018, Manila
OUR WORLD is flooded with information. From the time we get up until we go to bed, we are inundated with information from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online newspapers, blogs, TV, radio, regular newspapers, friends, relatives, teachers, and people we meet on the street.
But not all of the information out there is true. There are forces competing for our attention, pushing us to believe in thing or another. There is, in fact, a hidden war going on beneath the surface of our lives. It’s a war between “living within the truth” and “living within the lies.”
When government forces its people to live within their lies, the only way to effectively oppose it is to live within the truth:
“So long as living within the lie is not confronted with living within the truth, it will never be exposed.”
“Living within the truth” is a concept inspired by a rock and roll band–by you, the youth.
It was first articulated by Ivan Jirous, a poet and artistic director of the “Plastic People of the Universe”, a rock band formed in communist Czechoslovakia in the 1970’s.
Jirous wrote about the emergence of a “second culture” outside the regime’s sphere of influence and described those who lived in it as “living in truth.”
In 1976, Jirous was arrested together with members of the Plastic Universe and others who were active in the musical underground. Their trial as enemies of the State galvanized the people and led to the rise of a civil rights movement that became a major contributor to the collapse of the regime.
That is the power of living within the truth.
Some of us, despite the prevailing threats, fear, and violence, are already living within the truth:
This kind of illumination has “profound and incalculable consequences”– which explains why our government and others like it “suppress the truth more severely than anything else.”
“Every free expression of life”– in literature, film, music, science, sports, education, photography, dance, or whatever it is you do – is an act of living within the truth.
Every assertion of our inherent human dignity, our longing for peace and harmony, and our desire for solidarity with others, is an act of living within the truth.
Every action that springs from our “authentic inner conviction,”our innermost being, and our self-worth, is an act of living within the truth.
Every time we affirm our unique human identity, make use of our unique talents for others, and act “in the spirit of our own hierarchy of values,”we live within the truth.
Every time we lend a helping hand to those in need, to the weak, the vulnerable, and the oppressed, we live within the truth.
Every time we demand that justice be done and that the Constitution be respected, we live within the truth.
Living within the truth may not be easy. Living within the lies peddled by the government is much easier.
But which path will provide a lasting solution to our problems?
Which path will allow us to “live freely in dignity and partnership”?
Which path will give us the space we need to bring our unique talents and abilities to full flower?
That is a matter of vital importance that our government is trying desperately to suppress by ramming its lies down our throats.
That is a matter of crucial significance that our government is trying to conceal by using the barrel of the gun to dispense its version of “justice”.
That is a matter of paramount concern that we must embrace if we truly want to see freedom and justice reign in our land.
Maraming salamat po.
* Atty. Jose Manuel I. Diokno is also the national chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).
”Living within the truth” and “living within the lie” are concepts articulated by the writer and statesman Vaclac Havel in his seminal essay entitled “The Power of the Powerless” (October 1987. Many of the ideas, words and phrases of Havel’s essay have been incorporated here. The full text of the essay is available at http://www.vaclavhavel.cz/showtrans.php?cat=eseje&val=2_aj_eseje.html&typ=HTML.
Id. All the phrases in quotation marks in this and succeeding paragraphs are from Havel’s essay.
Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless, accessible at http://www.vaclavhavel.cz/showtrans.php?cat=eseje&val=2_aj_eseje.html&typ=HTML
 Ivan Jirous obituary by Paul Wilson, at https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/nov/29/ivan-jirous
Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless, http://www.vaclavhavel.cz/showtrans.php?cat=eseje&val=2_aj_eseje.html&typ=HTML
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