DEMOCRACY MUST NOT BE TURNED TO AUTOCRACY | Daily News

DEMOCRACY MUST NOT BE TURNED TO AUTOCRACY

Si fractus illabatur orbis, Impavidum ferient ruinae. Horace (65 BC- 27 BC).

(Even if the world would fracture and fall, the upright man would still be undaunted by its ruins).

In the first half of the 20th century the short-sighted cunning caste minded leaders took charge of power in Sri Lanka. Yet they did not bent on exploiting the State for themselves; they wanted the honour of ruling and according to their vision developed the country in its agricultural and irrigational traditions while maintaining an efficient public service and an independent judiciary.

In its second half, politicians for their own selfish benefit, exploited the racial and religious prejudices among the people. Thus they not only fractured and destroyed the country’s belongings and physical well-being but paved the way for a bloody butchery lasting thirty years. In the process Sri Lanka created a social and political environment conducive to chauvinists and nitwits who made themselves a menace to civilized community living. They did not show a capacity to be sustainers of the State or show a sense of high responsibility. Nor is there now evident in them a genuine devotion to the people. As a result of their misdeeds and blunders in politics, the country has also lost hordes of talented men and women who could have contributed to the development of the country who were induced to migrate to other countries.

FANCIFUL MADE ATTRACTIVE

There is a possibility of a repetition of this phenomenon, if misfortune were to continue in Sri Lanka with roguish politicians. According to the information trickling in, some heirs of the chauvinists are presently planning to wrest power somehow to avoid accountability for their actions in the past and the punishments they might face if they are found guilty of wrongdoing. If they were to come to power they could simply ignore every accusation. Many unacceptable things are being strategized, though not all of it is publicized.

So many things are going wrong; so much wrong is being planned. The overall plan is to use democracy to destroy democracy, to manipulate the law to make the law impotent altogether, take away peoples’ freedom and install autocracy, terror and tyranny and impose the rule of mediocrities according to their personal fancy. School dropouts, the uneducated, unexceptional individuals and mediocre lawyers are in politics to muddle through for a decade or so before they get themselves called charismatic and patriotic even while being heinously selfish and corrupt to the core.

The citizens need to be aware that the most important values in public life is the consciousness of their own worth, sovereignty and autonomy as citizens and the value of truth. The real truth of the affairs of the State and the information of the capacities and responsibilities of the ‘carriers’ of the State – the members of government, the legislature, the executive, the public service, the judiciary – are not made transparently available to the people.

The citizens also need to be aware that beside the corrupt gang of politicians vying for power, there is still living in Sri Lanka a band of upright and undaunted men and women who could save her from the tragic situation she has been driven to by selfish treasonable politicians and their henchmen. These corrupt politicians do not speak the truth but cover up their covetousness, pride, anger, vengeance and envy and weave fanciful tales that are made attractive, to gain supporters.

GENUINE RELIGION IS HUMAN AND JUST

Sri Lanka’s citizens should come to understand well what Nathan Sharansky says in ‘The Case for Democracy’. Sharansky was a dissident of the USSR who suffered in jail for nine years for challenging the policies of the Soviet Union. During his jail period he became convinced that democracy is essential to protect human rights and to maintain world peace and security. Sharansky became a citizen of Israel and from 1996 for eight years was a Cabinet minister with a stint as a Deputy Prime Minister. He became a human rights activist and a translator for dissident and nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov. It is his view that anywhere tyranny should be made to bow before democracy.

The upright and democratic citizens who on January 8, 2015 heroically saved Sri Lanka from an impending despotism and anarchy should again become undaunted by the ruination caused in October 2018 and thereafter by ego absorbed politicians. They should once more mobilize the democratic forces and determinedly work to save the country from self-serving corrupt elements contesting to come to power and look after themselves while leading the country to lawlessness, despair and social disorder. The democratic law-abiding citizens should call upon the intelligent, competent men and women of integrity to come forward and bear the heat and burdens of the day and support them that the people may have a realizable glimmer of hope.

Countries that have been burned, destroyed and levelled to the ground as a result of World War II have risen from the ashes, been rebuilt, found their place in the world and advanced. We on the contrary have engaged ourselves in foolish projects that undermined solidarity, harmony, unity and peace in the country for the benefit of a section of foolish minded and politically naïve people. They have clung to caste mindedness, racial and religious prejudices and envy and petty jealousies based on them. People cling to these social tendencies very tenaciously; only deep and genuine religious and humanitarian and just social convictions make people abandon them. That they are not so abandoned show that for many religion is restricted to ritual and a veneer of observance evinced by the superficiality of their religious convictions and the absence of humanitarian feelings.

CULTIVATE VALUES: TRUTH AND HONESTY

A strong establishment of democracy with freedom, autonomy and equality is not only possible but essential for the furtherance of a healthy civilization. Leaders known for their integrity should be able to motivate the people to freely choose good over evil, be right and not wrong, be true and not false, be honest and not crooked in their social dealings, if their children are to be assured of a worthwhile future.

All of life and human relationships come into existence due to natural encounters and mutual acceptance of one another. Many relationships come into existence due to encounters according to existing structures of family, religious community, social relations, governance and public administration and laws of the country. Politicians with their followers for purposes of various kinds also establish various relationships according to their views and interests. Relationships also arise spontaneously. Underlying all relationships should be the natural values of truth and honesty, which need to be cultivated at home, school and in every living space and not taken for granted.

When we travel to a destination and are not sure of the right road, we ask the direction from a stranger; we take for granted his knowledge and presume he tells us the truth; we follow his direction and come to our destination. The authority of a stranger’s truth and honesty becomes a reliable guide to us.

This happens so often when we journey in sites we are not familiar with and we are not deluded because, if the stranger we consult is not a knowledgeable person, he confesses his ignorance and tells us to consult someone who knows how to guide us. This not only happens when we travel on highways and walk on village paths, it also happens on the journeys of life, when we consult total strangers in positions of religious and civil authority. While money grabbing religious charmers and soothsayers deceive the people, true religious authorities give us reliable advice gratuitously, without any charge, in the spirit of religion. Jesus Christ gifted his disciples to come to the help of those in need of their help and said, “You have received freely, give freely.” (Gospel according to St. Mathew, Ch 10 Verse 8).

EXCLUDE FOOLISH POLITICIANS

Distinct national communities of people have organised themselves into national bodies of sovereign people and agreed on the foundation, fundamental laws as Constitutions formulating the civilized relationships among individuals and communities belonging to and constituting the nation within recognized boundaries. We are yet to give ourselves a Constitution consistent with the just human aspirations of a civilized people. The failure to do so is the failure of every individual and collective representation of politicians in today’s parliament.

People pay taxes to sustain and further develop the people and their environment in the manner decided by their elected representatives and managed by the administration of public servants who are remunerated adequately for their services to the community. Unfortunately, most of the elected representatives and public servants in the high positions do not seem to be civically conscious and responsible enough to recognize that they are servants of the people because some of them enslave and imprison in their clutches of power their fellow citizens in the most anti-social and uncivilized ways. They are either ignorant of the civilized and cultured standards and even provisions laid down in the Constitution or uncouthly ignore them insensitive to their obligations to the citizens.

In any case citizens do not wish to see their human dignity and rights undermined and their person disregarded in spite of the Constitutions enshrining provisions upholding human dignity and rights. Some politicians are presently obstructing and delaying the draft and enactment of a new Constitution because they are unable to transcend themselves and accept a Constitution of the People, by the People, for the People that will endure under the Supremacy and Rule of Law.

The most unfortunate reality in Sri Lanka is that some politicians who wish to wield power desire to set up themselves in power as despots above the rule of law. They intend to govern according to their arbitrary will and their actions become the operative rule for the time being. Truly free and honest citizens cannot bring themselves to obey the arbitrary laws of despots; honest citizens can only obey laws that arise out of autonomous judgement and collective reasoning they freely assent to.

The politicians in power and yearning for power should understand that after all politics is not about left, right and centre but about right and wrong, good and evil, just and unjust, fair and unfair, rational and irrational, prudent and foolish. Undaunted democratic citizens should exclude from politics the foolish who do not understand these basic truths.

 


 

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