The first known use of might makes right in the English language was in 1846 by the American pacifist and abolitionist Adin Ballou (1803–1890), who wrote, "But now, instead of discussion and argument, brute force rises up to the rescue of discomfited error, and crushes truth and right into the dust. 'Might makes right,' and hoary folly totters on in her mad career escorted by armies and navies." (Christian Non-Resistance: In All Its Important Bearings, Illustrated and Defended, 1846.)
The phrase in reverse is echoed in Abraham Lincoln's words in his February 26, 1860, Cooper Union Address ("Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it") in his attempt to defend a policy of neutral engagement with those who practised slavery, perhaps to appear more nationally oriented and religiously convicted in hopes of winning the presidential election later that year (which he did).
A 14-year old student dies after being punched in the head by another student in Batangas (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/nation/regions/08/03/12/punch-head-kills-bullied-hs-student). Across the seas, just a few months ago, the suicide of a 15-year old high school student in New Jersey has been linked to bullying in school (http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Lennon-Baldwin-Morristown-NJ-Death-Investigation-145189875.html).
In New Jersey, a bill called "Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights" was passed almost a year ago and signed into law this past January. This law now requires training of school staff on how to prevent bullying among students. Each school is likewise required to identify certain employees as dedicated anti-bullying coordinators. And, of course, schools are now obliged to investigate and report all accusations of bullying. Sadly, the New Jersey law, called as the toughest anti-bullying law in the United States, did not prevent the death of the 15-year old high school student.
In the Philippines, there is now a proposed "Anti-Bullying Law":
|To watch the above video, visit|
Some of Benjo Basas' comments in the above video are worth reiterating: Bullying is dependent on who the parents are. I also went through Philippine schools and it was true then that no one would dare to bully a son or daughter of a policeman. Even as little children, we already knew what power was.
Congressman Palatino' recent article on his blog talks about a different issue: Beyond Legislation: Ending Torture in the Philippines. Yet, this may just be the adult version of the same problem. And as the title implies, solutions to the problem are so much beyond just writing and passing new laws.
"Might makes right" is part of the problem and it runs deep in the veins of our society. We do not subscribe to discussions. We do not truly appreciate what consultation means. We want to silence opposition. In transactions and deals, what usually is important is not what you know but who you know. Influence and power seem to be absolutely necessary for anything to get done. Flor Lacanilao continuously points out the lack of published individuals holding positions of influence and authority in the Philippines. Perhaps, submitting to peer review is really the opposite of "might makes right".
Our children are reflections of ourselves. Bullying in school is a reflection of what is happening in society. "But now, instead of discussion and argument, brute force rises up to the rescue of discomfited error, and crushes truth and right into the dust...."