24 April, 2018

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Sri Lanka’s Way Forward – Let’s Think Outside The Box

By Vishwamithra

“Man is not permitted without censure to follow his own thoughts in the search of truth, when they lead him ever so little out of the common road.” ~ John Locke

Another year is now history; nothing much to write home about. Politically, 2017 has been one of non-eventful year. For most of us, barring some personal achievements for a few, it has been a terrible disappointment. Seventy years after Independence, with thirteen elections, nine changes in government and two failed revolutions and another two aborted coup d’états, where have we arrived? That is not to forget a twenty seven-year war. The sighs and wheezes are many and inhalation of satisfying breaths are a way too few.

It’s not too late to change gear, not only to accelerate the speed but more so alter the course in search of that receding oasis of success. The journey after Independence has been one of winding and rough trekking. Some politicos may have succeeded in enriching themselves and they may have amassed wealth to secure the comfort and safety of a couple of their generations. That is the ‘blood money’ they have earned by hoodwinking the voter and securing that comfort and safety. Yet where has it taken the common man? That is the ‘sixty four million dollar’ question.

Religion has been desecrated; ethnicity soiled; language decapitated and culture totally wrecked. A nation of many ethnicities, languages and religions has been polarized and demanding more divisions. Caste divisions which everyone thought is a matter of history’s litterbin is still sustaining its ugly and obscene dynamic. Its manifestations are evident in marriage proposals published in the Sunday newspapers. Sri Lanka as a nation, Sinhalese-Buddhists, Tamils, Christians, Catholics and Muslims is still thinking, breathing and acting within a box, a cocoon of sort. All four attempts, two coup d’états and two revolutions, to go outside the box – outside the democratic framework of course- have ended up in failures. Yet no politician or any social-minded leader of any worthy repute has tried anything outside the box, within the democratic framework.

Is it possible to think outside the box and still retain our democracy with all its freedoms, that of religion, movement, expression etc.? One does not know because none has attempted. The culture that has set in during the last few decades, irrespective of the color of the political party-flag, has imprisoned almost each and every citizen in the country. From the government servants to the private sector executives and ordinary workers, from religious leaders to the media organizations, from laymen to clergy, from civil servant to domestic servants, the whole nation as a collective body of citizenry has been captured, enslaved and being consumed from head to toe by this new culture of money-worship and power-pursuit.

Politicians supply the oxygen and in turn feed the country with the same rusty, warped and degenerate set of values whose value is low and the price high. Why are we blind to its corrupting mechanics and embracing its extravagances? The answers to these questions perpetually stay concealed. As in all difficult tasks, mundane or extraordinary, from securing gainful employment for a University graduate to becoming a millionaire overnight to stopping smoking and losing weight, if one wants success, one has to want it. If one does not want it, one won’t have it, it’s as simple and uncomplicated as that.

Forty four-year-old Ray Goforth is Executive Director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), showing an assertive style as he leads the white-collar union in contract talks with Boeing on behalf of about 23,000 technical staff said thus: “There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: Those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.” We in Sri Lanka belong to either of these groups. We are either afraid to fail or we are afraid that the one who tries will succeed. It’s not a very flattering description of a society intent on rapid advancement. We may not have Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela among us; we may not have Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy or Lee Kuan Yew with us; yet why not try with our own kind? Sounds like a utopian dream! I’m not talking about Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh or Castro. They too transformed their societies after a revolution and established dictatorships although they were mistakenly branded as ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, borrowing the theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

But change, we need. Change we require but tragically do not demand it. Mere lip-service to change coupled with wild rhetoric on ‘transformation and revolution’ has killed our enthusiasm for change. It has deadened our curiosity and accelerated the moral decay. A meandering bundle of humanity, which Sri Lanka is today, from one guard-post to another, is looking more like a rudderless boat rather than a well-stocked cruiser navigated by an experienced Captain and crew.

Let us open this column to a national conversation. How far or how wide we can reach in this exercise, I don’t know. Yet inviting my readers to a potentially wild and crunching discussion on the path that our nation is taking is, in my humble view may be a, once again, make this an ‘outside the box-column’. Let it be. My only hope is that the readers realize the gravity and hopelessness of the situation; the gravity is serious, alarming, real and urgent. The corruption that has taken ahold of our culture is real; it is all-consuming. If we choose to be deliberately oblivious of this, then that also be. But that apathy will have a very heavy price. Then Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables would depict the true picture of our nation, gone astray and vagrant and pitifully forlorn.

The two failed revolutions launched by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) went outside the box. Yet they did not represent the freedoms of expression, religion, movement and other fundamental human rights as promulgated in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Rohana Wijeweera, how effective a public speaker he was, how original a grassroots-level organizer he was and how dedicated a leader he was, his solution to the country’s burning issues is not acceptable at any time and in any given context. The failed coup d’états too constituted an alien concept for our lethargic nation. A military takeover of government is too alien a concept for our country.

In any context, we simply cannot give up our fundamental democratic freedoms and democratic system of government. Yet the sculpture of our Constitution should be along the lines of secularity. The priceless value of a secular constitution could be gauged only by testing it in a situation of chaotic community conflict. India is the greatest example in this. India has many religions and even more languages and ethnic varieties. Its main religion is Hinduism and language is Hindi. Yet it has a secular constitution. That constitution has sustained democracy in the most gruesomely violent times and amidst Muslim-Hindu riots. The Federal Constitution of India has contributed greatly towards that sustenance of democracy. Pros and cons of a federal constitution may be discussed without ungraciously discarding it. That is thinking outside the box.

Generations-old and archaic prejudices have killed our passion and curiosity. Those prejudices may be based on religion and language; they may be based on mythical superiority of a race; it may be based on a mythical belief that we are descendants of ‘Aryan’ race. On the other hand, Tamils in the North might passionately believe in Valmiki’s epic poem Ramayana. These prejudices are totally responsible for the corrupting of our collective soul and they have lessened our passion. If one needs to advance with the advancing world, one need to have that passion; the passion to be original, the passion to be daring, the passion to be uncomfortable with what is intensely wrong. The measure of a pioneer is not really venturing out, but sustaining the original passion and keeping going come what may. It is that passion that we are missing today. When passion dies, however much one tries to advance, the forward movement becomes more of a staggering crawl rather than an ecstatic gallop. When the excitement is absent, the expected gallop becomes once again a crawl and eventually a complete halt.

We as a nation has come to that: an unthinkable moral lethargy and cultural vacuum. Throw the Mahawamsa and Ramayana out the window. Both these national biographies may have outlived their usefulness. The decay of our culture has set in and it’s progressing rapidly. The effects may not be manifest now or tomorrow or day after; may not be in a year or two; but in five years’ time when our children look back at the society we have left behind, it will be unrecognizable. An amoral, uncultured bundle of humanity in search of its own identity would be meandering along hazy streets and smoke-filled board rooms. They would not know the difference between a well-cultured society and one without the nuanced measures of the human spirit. For they have not seen or experienced it. 

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com   

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    To think outside the box, one needs innovative ideas with new people…..

    We have a government led by Ranil W who has been in politics for 40 years (with nothing to show for it)…….outside the box, my foot!

    • 1
      1

      Perriamma

      “We have a government led by Ranil W who has been in politics for 40 years (with nothing to show for it)”.

      Good point. For example we have a Shadow J opposition lead by Dr Mhinda Rajapaksa (LLD) who has been in politics since 1967, well over 50 years. The official opposition is lead by Trinco Sam who has been in politics since 1963. Vasudeva Nanayakkara has been in politics since 1958.

      We do not know who belongs to which party.

      The fundamental problem with stupid Sinhalese and stupid Tamil is that they can’t/won’t think. You see they are special people, they know it all.

      • 1
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        Tamil vedda
        The govt is not led by RW it is by the genius Sirisena.
        Everybody is stupid I agree including those who do not know who they are, leave alone who belongs to which party.
        We can fill these columns with inane nonsense can’t we?

        • 0
          0

          Percy dated and pathetic

          “Everybody is stupid I agree including those who do not know who they are, leave alone who belongs to which party.”

          If you agree with me then I must be wrong.

          “We can fill these columns with inane nonsense can’t we?”

          Yes only if you double your typing.

          • 0
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            Tamil vedda
            Are you strolling outside the box. Please get back in to your institution before the warders catch you. Your nonsense writing can still continue from inside.

      • 4
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        classic, when the nincompoop RW was mentioned without any thing to show for it in 40 years, the stooge is equating that to MR, who brought peace and the biggest economic growth in history and probably the most successful leader in our history ..typical tamil moron

  • 1
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    Good START to “Think Outside The BOX”. To make a START, one has to first find an answer to the TWO most important questions : (1) WHO IS IN THE BOX? and the next would be: (2) WHO PUT US IN THAT BOX?. The obvious answer to the first question would be: WE – the PEOPLE. The other answer to the second would be: THE POLITICIANS. If we do agree in unanimity, we, the PEOPLE have to REVERSE this order and put the POLITICIANS to the “BOX” and get the PEOPLE out of the “BOX”. How do we do that? That can be achieved through a very vigorous “Brain Storming” campaign through an “Awareness” programme that must be handled only by “Intellectuals” who are not “BOXED” by Religion; Ethnics; Language; Culture; Politics; Pseudo Academics; and likes; but who are willing to take a plunge into the arena of Justice; Fair Play; Common Sense;Unification and Reconcilliation to achieve oneness of a Nation and a Country without any claim for PERSONAL GLORY. This TREND has emerged and and no time should be wasted to go forward.

  • 2
    0

    Considering the voter as shareholders and government as a management company of the entity can we think outside the box and outsource government?

  • 1
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    Visvamithra: YOur nick names implies that you are not for Sinhale or for Sri lanka. anyway, What these people have done anything good for the last 70 years except promoting themselves, their families and destroying the country. We need new ideas from writers to how to change this thing. It is just musical chairs for them changing it every few years.

    • 1
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      Jim the dimwit: its not a nick name but a “pseudonym”.

      LOL

  • 0
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    Since Kuveni several thousands of victims have cursed this country. This cannot be cured by any means, even by praying at Dalada Malikawa, Kataragama or by donating gold equivalent to your weight at Thirupathy perumal temple. There is no redemption, my friend.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1
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    We need the ‘SOLUTION’ to all SL problems has to come from the Buddhist Monks of various Chapters as they are the ones who decide how the Sinhalese behave!

  • 1
    1

    How about Gota R? Does anyone think that GoTa R is an animal capable of thinking outside the Box.. DJ thinks so.

  • 0
    1

    “Throw the Mahawamsa and Ramayana out the window”

    Why throw Mahawamsa which contains lot of historical facts. Of course Tamils are jealous of Sinhalese having a chronicle that trace the history of Sinhalese in Sri Lanka over a period of more than 2000 years.

    “The Ceylon Tamils had no written document on the lines of the Mahavamsa to authenticate their singular and separate historical authority in Sri Lanka, a fact which Ceylon Tamil communalists found very irksome”. (Russel, Jane: Communal Politics under the Donoughmore Constitution, p.131)

    Tamil racist politicians, Sinhala fake socialist politicians and JVP leaders ruined Sri Lanka after independence.

    • 0
      1

      Eagle Blind Eye

      “Why throw Mahawamsa which contains lot of historical facts.”

      Such as……………………..

      “Of course Tamils are jealous of Sinhalese having a chronicle that trace the history of Sinhalese in Sri Lanka over a period of more than 2000 years.”

      It also traces Sinhala/Buddhist heritage of incest, bestiality, parricide, first ever religious war, …………. plot of science fiction, justification for land grab, …..

  • 0
    0

    Eagle Eye

    Russel Jane’s thesis for her PhD was supervised by a well known Sinhala supremacist K M De Silva at Peradeniya University. So what else we could expect from her.

  • 1
    0

    The writer is still living in old world mind set, he did not realized that New Capitalist Globalization has great Divergence in two aspects.

    1 By explain how much political, economic, culture and military power came to be concentrated in the by USA of so few.

    2 Current globalization change around 1990 that shocking shifted by developing nations of China, south Korea, India, Poland Turkey ,Indonesia and Thailand account of almost all that declined by G7′.

    Well, impact ongoing globalization of political-economy by answering question required a broader and wider view globalization?
    In fact face to face interaction remain very costly for democratic-politics even today. But writer has ignore whole New innovation and changes of revolutionary shifting modern driving forces of democratic and development.
    Well in the period of just a few decades the resulting growth differences compounded are into colossal by expanding North-South of global GDP income has playing by unprecedented scale.

    It is exactly new knowledge flows that make new world order.
    Needless to say outline Global production line and network has gone beyond the boundaries of nations. By high -teach and low -wages combination turn out be a new world better development and democracy in Sri lanka.
    This has not reached our political leadership and parties even after 2015 January 8th by so-called ” rainbow revolution”!@

  • 1
    0

    Thinking outside the box here there are few more things that has to be fixed:
    – Sinhala Buddhists must stop thinking that Buddhism which is full of mythical beliefs such as karma and rebirth is the greatest religion in the world- what is the difference between the belief on heaven and hell or the belief in karma or rebirth which are only unproven metaphysical concepts?. The blind belief in Buddhism and patronage has reached such illogical proportions, even a theory that Buddha was born in Sri Lanka can be easily marketed- like the Ravana myth. That Buddha visited Sri Lanka three times using his “flying” powers is another myth. If the Buddha came to Sri Lanka previously Buddha himself could have taught Buddhism to the chosen superior Sinhala race without having to wait to send a disciple after his death.
    – Stop teaching any religion in public schools- teach ethics instead. If parents want to teach religion, do it at home and send them to churches, temples etc at their cost or send them to 100% private schools.
    – Ban Buddhist priests from taking part in politics and banish them to “temples”.
    – Teach children to respect law and the environment from the kindergarten and to bow down in obeisance to what is right- not to priests, or to elders or anyone else who can be a “rogue”.
    The list goes on : “Ethical Atheist”

  • 0
    0

    Before you think outside the box, the man who brought in the fraudster to the Central Bank has a serious price to pay. He has to answer to the people for negating the work of the COPE. Committee, and for appointing 3 stooges to whitewash the bond scam. The names of those stooges should be publicised widely.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Vishwamithra, and all Participants,
    What chance do you think Sri Lanka has for a come back? It is the two main Political Parties that competed with each other with all crooked and violent means to suppress Tamils and come to power. It is the two main political Parties that pushed down the Country again came out of the box to join hands to save the heroes who killed Tamils in thousands within a few days that couldn’t be achieved when they were in power one party at a time. Now they are together doing both suppressing Tamils as well as fooling the world by saving the famous criminals( heroes.) among them.
    Are you expecting all the Academicians, all the Journalists, all the Venerable Monks, and all the experienced veterans can wrench out Sri Lanka from the clutches of these famous political Parties when they are doing more crimes to overshadow their prior crimes. When they are doing new frauds to overshadow their previous frauds? Are they not doing just the opposite of what the neighboring India, and Singapore do for integrity and prosperity. The fraudulent management is found the best way to overcome the commitment for reconciliation, and provincial council.! All that happened in the last 70 years is well preserved inside the box and cannot be wasted by doing anything outside the box.

  • 0
    0

    We will see the change when the President change his attire.

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