Do it together, on the track, – The Island

By the praying mantis

This must indeed sound like an extremely condemnatory, bitter and miserable indictment against the inhabitants of our beautiful island. However, we have to face the facts. A nation must be judged on the qualities of the people who make up its population. Today, many countries in the world are so proud of their people. Can the same be said of Sri Lanka?

Our beautiful homeland, which should rank among the crème de la crème of the planet, is now in its worst possible slump; an abyss of despair. We have the most fertile soil, marvelous flora and fauna, landscapes of indomitable splendor surrounded by the blue ocean, a literate population, free education and free health care, and many other attributes to which many other nations would even give their very soul to have and hold. Yet despite all of this, we have squandered all of these gifts by succumbing to many selfish and shrewd motives, indiscipline, lack of empathy, irrational behavior and an uncanny knack for making quick money every when opportunities arise.

We had it, the moment we managed to cut the shackles of colonial rule and started boasting of independence. The so-called magnificence of centuries of existence and 74 years of independence has gotten us nowhere. The reasons are pretty obvious and could be summed up in a single sentence; total lack of patriotism and flagrant lack of professionalism.

Many blame politicians for all our misfortunes. But are they solely responsible? Of course, the manipulative and selfish attitudes and behaviors of lawmakers have most certainly led us into a quagmire of despair. These remnants of the very pits of the earth are responsible for the predicament we now find ourselves in, a bankrupt nation, despised by many other inhabitants of this planet, as a result of all manner of financial and manipulative misdeeds by our politicians. . There were, and still are, many scams perpetrated by these unscrupulous people who did not hesitate to plunder the great wealth of our country. None of them have been incarcerated and put behind bars in government facilities maintained at great expense to protect the population from criminals.

Yet despite all of this, we have plenty of people in the political sphere who shout until they are hoarse and even bellow rhetoric from the rooftops about the transgressions of their opponents. They repeatedly and consistently promise the people milk and honey if they gain political power. Some of those who even missed the bus are now very busy trying to convince the gullible public that they would be the saviors of our thrice blessed land. Others who vehemently claim their ability to resurrect our country do not even have the courage to publicly admit the damage done by their outfits in several insurgencies in the past. Some of those who have held power in the past have been monumental failures; are morons right now, and bent on spreading grins across their ugly faces and pontificating about a resurrection of their parties to a level that would bring instant relief to the suffering masses. This could all be, charitably labeled as wishful thinking, but most sadly, there are quite a few naïve takers in our country to even consider, let alone accept such misguided bombast.

Our legislative pinnacle is an absolute disgrace. There have been punches, rowdy behavior, throwing of chili powder, shouting matches, meaningless bombasts and even the use of unsavory language in this hallowed citadel of governance. On the other hand, in the best terminology of Her Majesty’s language, the most commonly used collective name for a group of owls is parliament. In ancient Greek mythology, the owl accompanied or represented Athena, the goddess of wisdom. The owls in our legislature don’t even know the meaning of the word “wisdom”. In full flight, owls are considered silent as they are extremely capable and excellent hunters. Need we say more?

It has been reported that the head of Sri Lanka’s first and foremost financial bastion recently publicly lamented that professionals do not pay taxes. Admittedly, this may be the case with some professions, but is it fair that the majority of highly qualified experts in certain professions, who pay their taxes consistently, are labeled as cunning tax evaders? It is also relevant to ask why the authorities do not go looking for leather to round up these miscreants. It has been suggested that these evildoers have the backing of powerful political figures. Indeed, heaven would be the only source to help us if that were the case. The ancient Roman lawyer, writer and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero, who is credited with the saying “O tempora, o mores”, must surely be rolling over in his grave!!!

Food insecurity is endemic and the prices of basic foodstuffs are skyrocketing. A very large proportion of families in Sri Lanka are forced to give up at least one meal a day. Due to all these factors, malnutrition in all age groups is imminent. There is a rice mafia in charge. They enjoy absolute political patronage from all sides and are even more powerful than those at the highest echelons of power in this island nation. They have even been featured in the media and their rude and impudent behavior must be firmly suppressed. Both farmers and consumers are at their mercy. The legislature has been reluctant to confront these scoundrels and use all the administrative power at their disposal to teach them a bitter lesson. The solution is simple my dear Watson, just confiscate all their hoarded rice and distribute it to the needy. A while ago, a few of the strongholds of these unscrupulous rogues were raided and then inexplicably the government proceeded to pay them off and buy the hoarded rice detected from them!!!!!

There are even shortages of lifesaving medicines in our highly acclaimed free national health service. Many patients on long-term medication they desperately need to survive are forced to pay exorbitant prices out of pocket for their privately purchased essential drugs. The nonchalance of health officials, top to bottom, in the face of the suffering of the people sticks out like a sore thumb. They just don’t care, as long as they’re taken care of, in more ways than one. The education sector, the electricity and energy segments and the transport systems are at the mercy of the unions. In a most amusing but inappropriate initiative, the teachers’ unions seem to be more concerned with the dress code of female teachers than with the knowledge they must pass on to children. The power mafia is ready to do anything to fatten its own pockets. Even their taxes are paid by the institution where they are supposed to work. Transportation systems, whether state-controlled or private, are a law unto themselves. These notables would not hesitate to disturb the traveling public who support their existence.

The Police in our country leaves a lot to be desired. They will bend over backwards, salute and even pay tribute to politicians of all colors and types. They treat the ordinary public like criminals. It is an axiom in law that one is deemed innocent until proven guilty. Our police believe the exact opposite; guilty until proven guilty. The police are not independent. They are so dependent on politicians, even to the extent that their messages are made according to the whims and fancies of politicians. The police are supposed to protect citizens regardless of caste, creed or social status. However, what happens is that instead of protecting the population, they even go so far as to harass and even abuse women and children. The cases in question are numerous, including the harassment of peaceful demonstrators, the victimization of two women during a protest march along a public road, the abuse of lower-ranking female police officers by higher-ranking officers, the passing beatings and even electrocution of children who are simply accused of stealing a teacher’s purse etc, etc, etc.

Rioters are there in abundance. Some cannot even see a vague semblance of order in the country and they will set up one thing or another to disrupt the daily lives of the majority. All it takes is a vague warning shot through the arcs in social media to have our people running and lining up for one thing or another. Then the unrest mounts and the media clings to all sorts of scum cursing the government and the country. Some lotus eaters expect the government and the rest of the population to do anything and everything for them; the well-known merchants of the “culture of well-being”. We must remind them of the eloquent words of John F. Kennedy, the iconic President of the United States, who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

As for the way children are treated in this emerald isle, maybe it’s a disgrace, to say the least. We would like to quote just three statements of the great statesman Nelson Mandela:-

“Children must finally play in nature, no longer to be tortured by the pangs of hunger or ravaged by disease or threatened with the scourge of ignorance, molestation and abuse, and no longer to be required to indulge in acts whose gravity exceeds the requirements of their tender years”.

“Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people”.

“There can be no more vivid revelation of the soul of a society than the way it treats its children.”

It seems to this writer that Sri Lanka’s immediate need is for a tough but utterly benevolent statesman. It should be an individual like the head of state who will resolutely but surely deal with the scoundrels. This should be a person who espouses the impartiality and consistency of self-governing and independent organizations involved in good governance as well as maintaining public order. It should be someone who would do their best to make this country food self-sufficient and promote food security. He should also be the one who promotes exports, further develops tourism and champions world-class education, optimal healthcare facilities for all and generally takes care of our people.

Is there an outstanding national leader of this caliber even on the horizon? As a considered answer to this question, your guess is as good as mine. Without such a character, we are doomed forever.

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