Sri Lanka: When shall we ever learn?

Asia Human Rights
August 2, 2016
Reproduced with Permission
Asian Human Rights Commission

When shall we ever learn that the nation is more important than the power quarrels and ambitions of this or that person? Last week we saw that we shall never learn. A few politicians led a crowd to the street, not for the sake of the nation but, in fact, against the very idea of the nation. Their demand was that law should not be enforced equally and impartially. No nation that is incapable or unwilling to enforce the law can be called a nation. The failure to enforce the law is a prescription for chaos. For decades now, we laid landmines on our own road to peace and normalcy by this very same failure. The new government did not heed to this lesson, and now they have placed themselves in a position in which they are unable to answer strongly that, come what may, they will enforce the law.

When shall we ever learn that JUSTICE is a hard taskmaster? Those who pursue justice must do so with complete commitment and fairness and, at the same time, swift action is a non-bargainble requirement of justice. Those who are accused of crimes, especially very serious ones, will do all they can to defeat justice, even by destroying the system of justice itself. They resist going to jail more than they would resist going to hell itself. When those who are so accused are rich and powerful persons, they will use all their power and wealth to remain out of jail. Leaving room for them to do so is to invite peril. Allowing delays to destroy successful prosecutions not only places the government at risk but the whole nation. A wise ruler always gives priority to the requirements of justice and thus prevents those who are accused of crimes from doing even more harm by remaining free.

When shall we ever learn that what all ordinary folk in the country want, above all things, is peace and quiet? They want that their little ones can go to school without being sexually abused; that women can go about without having the fear of being raped; and that each and every one can seek the assistance of the police and other law enforcement agencies without the fear that they will suffer abuses in the hands of those very same people. They want to live with whatever little they have without having to pay bribes or extortion with that little that they have. They wish to walk on the roads without the fear of an accident at any moment, however careful they are. They want to go to a hospital when they are ill with the hope that they will be received kindly, and that they will get the attention and the medicine that is required for their cure. They wish that the schools that their children go to will give the education and instruction that these children deserve, and that these children do not have to spend all their free time, including their weekends, going from one tuition class to the other in the desperate hope of not failing their exams. People want their drinking water to be drinkable and not to be contaminated with all kinds of chemicals that create kidney problems and other illnesses. People wish that, when they go to their little boutiques and shops to buy their rice and other basic essentials, that these, too, have not had their prices raised to unaffordable levels. The young people hope that they will have the good notes of being admitted to a job so that they could support their families and, particularly, their ailing parents. The old people want to dream that, after years of hard work, they will not have to spend their old age with the prospect of starvation or malnutrition. Little children want safe places to stay and play when both their parents have gone to work solely for the purpose of providing them with their food and clothing. These and other simple things are what people want. People elect governments for this purpose, but, each time they do so, they learn that the new governments have learned nothing from the earlier ones, and they keep repeating the very things that brought people misery. Then the so-called opposition takes to the streets, not for the purpose of bringing them those simple things that they want, but for greedy politicians to have another go at pacifying their greed.

When shall we ever learn that the people want to hear the very simple truths about their economy and the way politicians propose to solve their simple problems? But, instead, what the people hear are lies and more lies. No politicians spend even an hour to fully contemplate the ways to solve any of the problems that the people want them to solve.The politicians can only promise a pie in the sky. People know all the time that a pie in the sky is something good to think about but not something that they can ever eat. No politician ever asked why they cannot tell the people the truth. The truth about how much money there is in the treasury, how plans are made for expenditures by the central bank, what more loans will be taken and who gets the benefit of everything. Why do the politicians think that telling the truth to the people is the most harmful thing they could ever do to themselves? When will the politicians ever think that the truth that they know and the truth that people want to know are the same?

When shall we ever learn that there is nothing more harmful to the nation than living on the false hopes that the politicians and the media create, illusions that are not only putting people's lives in peril now, but also for the future? That spinning illusions is a dangerous game because it harms the people's capacity to think critically, even about very difficult problems that may take a long time to solve. After all, it is the capacity for critical thought that has the potential to solve the problems people face and the people are capable of making sacrifices when they know that they are doing it for a good cause rather than the pursuit of an illusion.

When shall we ever learn that people should trust only themselves and themselves alone? By following one bad politician because they are frustrated with another, they will never solve their own problems. They have to consult each other and, for that, they should talk to and listen to each other. Their energies, spent in mutual consultation, can lead to creating more clarity on what they really want and how they can achieve what they want.

When shall we ever learn from the old wisdom that says that greed is harmful, that uncontrolled anger is harmful, and that ignorance is harmful and that sloth is harmful?

To support the greed of our politicians is as harmful as the pursuit of one's own greed. The support of political provocation from ill-intended politicians is as harmful as the pursuit of one's own uncontrolled anger. Following ignorant politicians is as harmful as the pursuit of one's own ignorance and blindness. The support of slothful politicians, whose sole way of promoting themselves and achieving their aims is my misleading the poor, is as harmful as people being slothful themselves.

When shall we ever learn that people have to learn to be wise if they wish to have a political system that can act wisely? That a wiser people never become followers of foolish and ambitious politicians, that they instead learn to discern where the truth is and resist all evil political schemes with all the might that they are capable of? That wisdom and enlightened resistance are inseparable? And that the wise can find solutions against all the odds that they face if they never deviate from the part of enlightened resistance, courage and perseverance?