By Mass L. Usuf –
“Before you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or any other theology, learn to be human first.” ― Shannon L. Alder
To learn to be human is one of the greatest challenges that this country is facing today. Many of its people are figuratively evolving towards animalistic behaviour which of course is different from animal behaviour. While there are others who condescend to levels even below the animals. Animal behaviour is governed by natural instincts. It possesses only limited power and a beauty to observe as part of natures handiwork. Man, relatively has much more power and also endowed with will power which quality is absent in animals. Therefore, man can rise to the level above angels in goodness while also condescend himself below the level of animals in evil.
Lessons on humaneness is nurtured at home by the parents and elders, at the place of worship by the religious leaders and at the school by the teachers. In all other places sans these institutions, the Guide is that nurtured humaneness which dwells in one’s own conscientiousness. Humanity is universal and common to all religions. It consists of a triangular association of the self (constituting the identity), the other (meaning the society) and God. This fundamental principle broadly defines man’s diverse relationship. Such relationships being conditioned by rights, duties and obligations falling within that matrix. While the self-forms the nucleus of this triangle, it has the choice of two polarised options that of materialism or spiritualism. A third option available is the path in between these two polarities based on variable scales. The intensity of the polarisation and the extent of the desire towards achieving shall determine the level of humaneness.
From the viewpoint of humanity, Sri Lanka is one of those countries where all major world religions have been in existence for centuries. This is not through the phenomenon of economic or political migration as seen globally in the twilight of the last century but through coexistence dating back to at least a millennium. Therefore, Sri Lanka is a proud nation enriched by a multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society. The rich pluralistic combination of several civilisations adds glamour and accentuates the unique heritage that had evolved indigenously.
In this backdrop Sri Lanka ideally should radiate herself to the entire world as a beacon of guidance towards moral rectitude. Especially because of its richness in all forms of human values in a diversely manifested religious and socio-cultural structure. While this should have been the benchmark unfortunately, everything that is seen in reality undermines such standards.
Breakdown Of The Family Or The Law?
Whatever be the proximal or distal cause, the country is witnessing an unprecedented spike in acts of crimes. The erosion of the moral fabric along with the rapid breakdown of law and order must alarm the average citizen. This consciousness must arise NOW and TODAY. It is very pertinent to question if it is only the law and order of the country that is failing? Or, are we also witnessing the gradual disintegration of the atomic family unit, as a nucleus of the larger society?
Innovative acts of crimes, gang violence, drug related murders, contract killings, drug abuse, house breaking, robberies, rape and other sexual offences are heard on a daily basis. Some acts of homicide are gruesome while sexual offences especially, those committed on little children are horrendous. These crimes against the society are perpetrated for materialistic gains or to settle personal/business vendetta. In case of sexual crimes, obviously, perversion stimulated through pornography and fuelled by intoxicants. To this list of crimes must be added the violence against the ethnic minority Muslims and the evangelical Christians. The genesis of these types of violent attacks on the Muslims and Christians are of course, religious and ethnic based. Economic imperative seduces violation of the law for example in food adulteration, substandard or unhygienic consumables on sale for human consumption.
If law and order is to be blamed for this situation, then institutions like the Police, Attorney General’s Department, the Judiciary, the official of the courts etc. will have to mobilise themselves more effectively and efficaciously. To highlight from some Police statistics: for the year 2017 there had been 8,900 cases of house breaking. The number of plaints filed totals to only 2,900. The number of robberies totalled to 3,350 and the number of plaints filed were only 1,297. The year 2017 recorded 1,700 cases of rape but only 199 plaints have been filed. The delays in the implementation of justice is caused by the cases pending at various levels for example incomplete police investigation or at the Attorney General’s office or at the Courts.
If the slow breakdown of the family unit is the culprit then the parents, religious leaders and teachers will have to see where they are lacking in producing members to the society who are people friendly. The relationship between religion and criminal behaviour has been an area of established research. There is also ample evidence that religious commitment can help to protect youth from delinquent behaviour and deviant activities, irrespective of their socio-economic conditions. As an extension of this nexus religion also fosters positive behaviour in society. It is juvenile delinquents whose course if not corrected later graduate into acting criminally without any inhibition whatsoever.
In my opinion, the current situation has emerged as a contribution from both of these factors viz. the collapse of law and order and the decaying of family values. One additional factor that undermine the peace in society is the interference by corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and others who wield power.
Hollow Symbolic Spiritualism
Competitive individualism and self-seeking mindfulness characterised by hollow symbolic spiritualism are cocktails that can spur up in man the gradual departure from humaneness. If you consider yourself as a person who does not commit crime, have you given thought as to what is next? Do you think that you being a law-abiding citizen and a devout votary of your religious belief is sufficient to discharge your responsibility as a member of that triangular relationship referred to above? It will be disastrous to ignore or be indifferent to the mercurial rise in criminal activities in the environment that we are living in.
God forbid, we may probably be part of the statistics if we do not act NOW.