July 21, 2019
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    MUST TRANSFORM SOCIO-POLITICAL CULTURE

    June 17, 2019

     

    Everyone is born in a nuclear family. Almost everyone grows up and connects to one another in a community; wider and vaster the community, the greater and more open become the connections and communication. In this modern age, we need to be open on a universal scale to come to a better understanding of one another in order to improve and transform our global village and build a global culture of human solidarity and world peace. Such a world peace could only be built with the solid building blocks of nuclear families and basic community solidarity glued with values based on sincerity and truth. Today, sincerity and truth are vanishing from political and public life. It has become a big challenge to be sincere and speak the truth.

    Confucius has said that ‘sincerity and truth are the basis of every virtue’. To be sincere is to be genuine. The word sincere derives itself from the Latin words ‘sine’ and ‘cera’, meaning ‘without wax’. When specimens of works of art were manufactured and mass produced in marble, the makers sometimes filled and smoothened the rough uneven surface and broken edges with wax. The traders who sold good quality specimens that were carefully made as excellent reproductions advertised them as facsimiles without wax.

    Dictionaries define ‘sincerity’ as ‘freedom from deceit’, duplicity, hypocrisy, purity of intention, truthfulness in conduct and communication. Sincerity goes a long way to maintain, improve and transform relationships. The sincere acknowledge their weaknesses and work at overcoming them. The sincere help one another towards mutual human enhancement.

    Only sincere people could become good leaders. And it is good leaders who could improve society by productive new initiatives, transforming human relationships thus bringing about a refreshing new order in society.

    The authorities of the religions in Sri Lanka seem to be mainly concerned about the well-being of their particular community. They often show an insularity, provincialism, a parochialism and a narrow mindedness that worries and is anxious about their own affairs. For over six decades the political climate has lent itself to the subsistence of this state of affairs. The time has come for the old religions not to remain insulated; there should be transparency and more communication. For the message of Religions to be relevant to contemporary society, it has to be presented in ways that convinces minds and attracts hearts and spirits. Wickedness and cruelty, assassination and bloodshed cannot be associated with religion; only truth, sincerity, honesty, forgiveness and loving kindness could.

    AUTHENTICITY AND HONESTY

    Aligned with truth and honesty are authenticity, genuineness of the character of a person and his uprightness, scrupulousness and credibility. We wish to see these qualities and values in all our dealings with all others. We presume these in our relationships at home; we are expected to grow in and progress in these qualities at school. Our religious teachers through their instructions and exhortations point to these values and try to instill them in those who listen to them.

    Authenticity and honesty are qualities we expect to see prevail in the social dealings and commercial, financial and other human transactions of our society. We wish to see that the commodities of food we buy in the market are not of bad quality, adulterated and unsuitable for consumption.

    There are all sorts of advertisements in the newspapers. Politicians in power and government departments award the benefits of advertisements to newspapers supportive of their political goals. Among these advertisements are those persuading the people to presume that they who deal in financial services are offering to the public prospects of investments that will bring attractive incomes by way of interest.

    But in the late 20th and now in the 21st century, we have had the spectacle of ordinary citizens having worked within the country and abroad, saved and invested their hard-earned money in finance companies and business projects that promised them attractive returns, losing all their money. The people were enticed by the greedy rich who bastardized the financial system through conspiracy and abused the credibility of ordinary citizens by advertising and inviting people to invest the financial savings of their sweat and blood in these finance companies and business projects.

    When these finance companies and business projects, initiated to attract and exploit the savings of retiring workers and of poor Sri Lankan expatriate workers scattered abroad, were on their way to failure and bankruptcy, many citizens who invested in them faced a very bleak future. As the highly placed authorities of finance in government institutions seemed to be remiss in their duty of supervising the financial organisations, the people were justly suspicious of those high-ups in government institutions. The people were of the view that the mismanagement and corrupt disorder syndrome in financial companies was there with the connivance of the powerful government bureaucrats supported by political power holders. All of them have contrived their own reasoning to justify the choices of their ill-breeding and carrying on the habit of doing bad business with bad pleasure. Their pockets are not empty even though their brains are of socio-moral thinking and their hearts and minds are putrid to the core. These white collar scoundrels who also have political backing need to be hounded and brought to judgement.

    CONFORM TO HUMAN NATURE

    When human nature, which is a dynamic reality, is closely examined, one detects that it contains an inbuilt capacity of intelligence, will, commitment and purposefulness to move towards an unmolested creativity, improvement and development of man’s abilities. However scientific and technological advancement also show that the human beings get their sensitivities blunted by bad habits and sometimes are incapable of seeing the ethico-moral perimeters and the noble paths within which one should advance his capacities. As human beings need to be trained and disciplined in keeping with standards of good breeding and regularly supervised, monitored and corrected, the people should determinedly demand reformed ways of public relationships and abandoning of corrupt practices in politics and public service. People should demand not just change, but radical change towards truthfulness, honesty and transparency from all politicians, from Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, MPs and all ambassadors and top bureaucrats of the State.

    Sincerity, trustworthiness, sterling honesty, authenticity, reliability, genuineness and steadiness in a person are not isolated qualities; they are linked to one another in a person’s character and command admiration and respect when they are visible.

    Though all do not attain to the highest and most important positions of authority, all should and are expected to have imbibed and possess these valued human qualities as they conform to a healthy human nature and because without them all normal human relationships break down. No one likes to be misled, led astray, deceived, robbed, misused, abused or harmed violently and treated immorally, rudely callously. The despicably insincere suicide bombers of Easter Sunday abused the civility and credibility of worshippers in churches and foreign visitors in the hotels of our country. As no human being should commit crimes of this nature or have faults that lead to them, all should in their upbringing be trained in virtuous human behaviour, formed with a socially sensitive conscience and conform to a basically refined form of human nature.

    Political culture should not be allowed to contaminate and poison good and normal human relationships. Politics in Sri Lanka tends to get aligned with trickery, lies, deception and what is improper, unethical, anti-social and harmful to society in general. Politics seems to be of benefit only to the person or the narrow group of political persons concerned. The people must radically reform and purify this political culture of its filthy elements.

    Political, administrative and bureaucratic figures Sri Lanka should be brought to a conscientious adoption of basic human values that get inculcated only in good breeding. Adoption of the so-called ‘codes of conduct’ by various kinds of public servants and politicians is no substitute for good character. Codes should not become for them a way of escape from being honest and basically human in their relationships with citizens in their daily transactions. Upgrading of patterns of behaviour and political ethos is called for in the political establishment. Oaths and promises solemnly made must be adhered to. Political developments that are contrary to the democratic principles that uphold and ensure human dignity, rights, freedom, equality and such like values cannot be compromised with. Democracy needs to be participatory if it is to guarantee the maintenance of democratic values and principles based on human values. Those who downplay the value of the lives of those particular individuals who call into question and ask for explanations about administrative and managerial decisions in a democratic framework, are not fit to be entrusted with powerful political leadership. In short, those who do not respect the lives of others are not fit to govern.

    UPHOLD TRADITIONAL VALUES

    Sri Lankan people have been known to come spontaneously to the help of anyone in distress, without any discrimination. It is not seldom that our people stretch themselves to unusual lengths to assist those meeting with unexpected misfortune. No one exploits occasions of others’ misfortune for one’s personal profit and advantage. Other than support, no one purposely adds any inconvenience and harm to the person in distress.

    This is indeed something beautiful and keeping to human solidarity. Though these actions are extemporaneous, they have been instilled in most of our people as they have been well bred in their home, school and religious environment and social culture.

    In the context of technological and scientific advancement and the rapidity of social change, there is always the danger of our losing touch with our fundamental humanity and faithfulness to traditional human values. We all seem to need to pay extra attention to maintaining our humanness. All of us need to have in our lives space and time for others, generously and magnanimously given. It is this gratuitousness and graciousness that refine us as human beings.

    NEW HUMAN BEINGS

    In modern society it is a wholesome, integrated education that will equip young citizens to face the challenges of responsible social living as mature adults. Education should not only equip them to be intelligent and understanding but also prepare them to be restrained and self-controlled and freely choose what is beneficial to oneself and has no harmful or negative impact on society.

    Integral education goes on in a socially healthy society, where a consistent and coherent process of conscientization and continuous social discourse persists. On the whole people are improving and becoming new human beings nurturing solidarity and hope of a better future.

    It is up to the Sri Lankan people to discard proven rotters and elect good leaders who are refined and exemplary human beings who do not need to invoke all possible gods and visit all places of worship, neglecting their duties and displaying their lack of capability and virtue.

    One wishes they were less playful with gods and goddesses and all manner of superstitions and more attentive to the many serious issues the people of this country are facing.

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