Mais quand l'univers l'ecraserait, l'homme serait encore plus noble que ce qui le tue, parcequ'il sait qu'il meurt et l'avantage que l'univers a sur lui; l'univers n'en sait rien.

La grandeur de l'homme est grande en ce qu'il se connait miserable. Un arbre ne se connait pas miserable. C'est donc etre miserable que de se connaitre miserable; mais c'est etre grand que de connaitre qu'on est miserable. - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) in his Pensee’e

But when the universe crushes (him), man would be even more noble than what kills him, because he knows that he is dying and the advantage the universe has over him; the universe however does not know.

The greatness of man is great in that he knows himself to be wretched. A tree does not know what it is to be miserable. It is therefore miserable to know oneself to be miserable; but it is great to know that one is miserable.

Pascal thought it is realistic for men to know their real situation, wretched though it may be. Yet Pascal was a cheerful man because he believed man could hope and could face problems and tackle them. But many people in Sri Lanka prefer the fanciful mirage by which unprincipled politicians cover up the miserable situation of the country and cleverly make people dream of a bright tomorrow which never dawns. Many undisciplined people too, not submissive to law reject reality and prefer dreams.

Normal men and women experience and know what it is to live in a situation that has been made miserable for all. Yet many citizens today are not aware that with the uncritical support they give to politicians, including the uneducated among them, the country has been driven to a dejected state by successive governments of miserably corrupt political leaders and their henchmen. Many citizens instigated by opportunistic politicians avoid paying attention to and facing the dreadful and tragic situation the country is in today.

S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike on February 4, 1948 in his speech of thanks to the Duke of Gloucester who represented the King of England said that complete freedom comes with freedom from ignorance, ill-health and poverty and in the name of all Sri Lankans spoke confidently of overcoming all obstacles and of asserting the dignified selfhood of an independent country.

We could have moved on to forge a strong national character had we been able to transcend bias, irrational prejudices and complexes of superiority and inferiority among the people. However the political and religious leaders did not measure up to the caliber required for such a purpose. Though refined and cultured Bandaranaike was, he too letting himself to be influenced by chauvinistic forces, failed to marshal his intellectual capacity and his oratory to lead the people to solidarity in unity in diversity by the way of reason, sanity and statesmanship and succumbed to the manoeuvres of short-sighted, vociferous pseudo nationalist elements.


Political, social and religious leadership failed in realistically understanding the pluralistic nature of the Sri Lankan society and uphold human dignity and rights and harness the resources of all the different racial and religious communities and satisfactorily coordinate them for the common benefit of all. As a result, the country has been led to interminable suffering for all the people and even presently the end of it is not in sight. Those in power do not seem to remember that precious lives of people including the growing young are involved and that they need to take a positive direction and improve the quality of life of all the people.

Satisfactory solutions to religio-cultural, ethnic, socio-communitarian problems cannot be found only through enacting new laws. Mutual understanding has to be created among the various communities. Relationships need to be established on a basis of goodwill and trust. This attitude is necessary for the mutual collaboration and cooperation that should not become a subtle exploitation of one section of the people by another. There exist already nuclear groups of such collaboration, cooperation and mutual critical self-introspection by which all mature towards better understanding and enriched relationships. Such relationships among different religious and ethnic groups are built in other countries and people live in unity, peace and harmony. We could do the same. Real reconciliation then will come alive.


Present day political leaders are not exemplary citizens who are worth listening to and who could be trusted and emulated. If their commitment to just national goals were transparently evident and their honesty beyond question, people would understand them well and readily shoulder with them the burdens the nation has to carry. When politicians in power and their families entitle themselves to perks and privileges that indeed seem boorish and obscene in the present debt-ridden context to which some of them had themselves dragged the country while profiting selfishly from such corrupt practices, they not only show themselves to be insensitive but also devoid of credibility. Any sop in view of elections given by the party in power, is just that, a sop thrown at the people.

The unwise decisions and deeds of most of our mediocre political leaders, though they cover themselves with a garb of self-importance, have made whole communities and significant sections of the people suffer unhappy consequences as a result and marred their lives. Ach! unsre Taten selbst so gut als unsre Leiden, Sie hemmen unsres Lebens Gang. (Goethe). Alas, our deeds as well as our sufferings, they hinder the course of our life. Many of our people's sufferings are needlessly caused and they are avoidable.


To derail the peaceful journey of the whole national community and launch enmity, meaningless rivalry and social confusion just one Hitler-like character or a disgruntled mad man is enough. Such men assassinated Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Martin Luther King and John Kennedy. Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka assassinations, abductions, kidnapping and disappearances have taken place behind which were hidden the hand of state authority. One little spark can fan itself into a raging fire to burn down a city that has taken years to build. So are the irresponsible political elements on the stage today. Their irresponsibility make them blind to the notable defects of their own character so evident to all others. And these people keep embers burning and inflame the social fabric by their caste, racial, religious prejudices and vacuous ideologies and deceptive thoughts and confuse the people who are intimidated and silenced and do not independently think or act.

The inherited prejudices make some people consider themselves highly placed and special due to the caste, creed and racial group they belong to. Many people lack discipline and do not submit to the law. The truth is that we become normal or abnormal only on the basis of our breeding and moulding into a genuine humanness, truthfulness, justice and fairness, solidarity, harmony and serenity in our relationship with fellow human beings.

Our political leaders have not taken the initiative or leadership in cultivating or promoting these basic human values which are the irreplaceable links of civilization and culture. Self-centred and ego absorbed politicians jiggle and wobble round one another contesting as to who is the more important when what is striking about them are their common characteristics of political flamboyance, greed for power and wealth and their readiness to tell any lie and evade truthful explanations of their policies and actions. They would even commit any crime or eliminate any human opponent, abandon and forfeit their self-respect in order to reach their personal goal.

Many of these superstitious politicians wear meaningless charms, consult astrologers, soothsayers and plead before idols and various gods in all kinds of places to have their wishes satisfied. They do everything except face the truth about themselves, amend their ways, give up wickedness, social unfairness and wrongdoing and turn to justice and upright social conduct. It is because of many people failing to make the right option that Jesus said, sadly, “What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own self?” (Gospel according to Luke 9.25).


If we at least as a small nation in a small island stop being insular and led by uncontrolled and inherited prejudices and unconscious emotions begin to think seriously, using our intelligence and freedom we would not let our hearts go astray; large sections of the people could very well be helped to recoup the power of reasoning and channel it for one’s own self-understanding and understanding others, to regain their sanity and grow to be psychologically mature and sound and begin to relate to people as normal human beings would and actively participate in guiding the nation well.

Citizens grow to become mature human beings able to relate and cultivate right relationships with fellow human beings through the breeding and culture, discipline and the formation of character in the homes, schools, universities and professional institutes, sports clubs, work places and not least of all in temples of religion where fraternity is imbibed, and injury and harm to oneself and others is prevented.

We are a small country with many elements of civilization and culture. To adjust ourselves to the modern world we need to educate ourselves to use our intelligence, reason and goodwill to understand and accept the values of human dignity, human rights, truth, justice, freedom, human solidarity, social collaboration and discipline, frank communication, cooperation, and sharing. As many of the political leaders obstruct and prevent the people from embracing these values, because they themselves do not have them, people should elect good leaders who accept cooperation from the people.

We need leaders who could mobilize all our people into a freely allied unity of high purpose that all may participate in a peaceful progress together to become a happy nation in which the powerful are responsible and the weak, the vulnerable and disabled, the widows and orphans are humanly cared for.

The powerful majority should be just and fair so that the minorities and the weaker sections feel safe and secure. It is possible to create such a new national community.

A dedicated band of intelligent and honest men and women dedicated to the common good, transparent in their integrity who could competently and efficiently attend to the various sectors of public functions and activity should be beacons of light that illumine the life journey of the people. It is the people's responsibility to elect those who in their name will guide the nation wisely and well.



Add new comment