|Wednesday, 03 November 2004|
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Memorable 'yes' to Ahimsa
It is not only the reiteration of the well known Government position that a final solution to the ethnic conflict based on power sharing, should be through a constitutional amendment and be within the framework of a united, undivided Sri Lanka that makes President Kumaratunga's address to the inaugural session of the Political Committee of the National Advisory Committee on Peace and Reconciliation (NACPR), both poignant and memorable.
Rather, it is the President's emphatic rejection of war as a solution to the conflict that marks this address as a very special one. "We do not believe in the destruction of life. We do believe in the sanctity of life", the President was quoted as telling the Committee.
This is a clear and unambiguous restatement of a value the people of Sri Lanka have caringly nurtured within themselves over the ages, ably and vibrantly assisted by their religious traditions. Encompassed in this statement by the President is the core value of our civilization - Ahimsa or love and humanity.
We are happy that no less a person than the President has publicly and unhesitatingly upheld this core value, which could be considered the bedrock of Lankan civilization.
This is as it should be. Most political leaders have, over the past 25 years or more, largely paid lip service to the finding of a political solution to our conflict but fought shy of clearly spelling out the foundational value which underlines this exercise - Ahimsa or humanity.
After all, implicit in a commitment to a political solution is the belief in humanity and compassion. It is perhaps because the majority of past political leaders didn't quite subscribe to Ahimsa, which prevented them from proclaiming this core value of love as a basis for a solution. Perhaps they were secretly enamoured of the military option.
However, President Kumaratunga has now taken the bull by the horns, as it were, and openly proclaimed that love for "the other" and reverence for life provide the keys to the resolution of our conflict.
This clear and unambiguous siding with humanity will have the effect of setting the correct tone for future peace-making. It will go a along way in preparing hearts and minds for the task of negotiating a settlement and set the basic parameters within which a solution will be sought.
Hatred doesn't cease by hatred. Only loving-kindness begets peace. These truths have been hitherto preached widely but not practised earnestly in public affairs. This is the reason why some sections continue to see violence and war as solutions to our unresolved problems.
However, if "love for one's neighbour" is now made the cornerstone of our search for peace, public faith in Ahimsa and humanity would increase, thereby laying the basis for social peace.
Sleepless in office
You have known it all the time, but now it is official. Your boss is shouting at you because he has not slept well.
A survey conducted in Britain has found that a bad mood at work is more or less directly related to sleep, or rather the lack of it. A quarter of Britain's bosses are likely to be in a bad mood at work because of too little sleep, the research released on Monday showed.
The study, titled "Dream On: Sleep in the 24/7 Society", found half of sleep-deprived managers admitted to shouting at colleagues because of tiredness. Nineteen percent said they were likely to make mistakes.
This is hardly surprising, as we all tend to get irritated after a sleepless night. Some workers even tend to compensate for such loss of sleep with a sound nap at the office desk. Although bosses may frown upon such practices, such 'power naps' can actually rejuvenate the body and the mind, leaving one refreshed for the rest of the day.
Although scientists have still cracked the mystery of sleep - why we need it all - most people do need around eight hours in the land of nod to wake up refreshed. We spend one third of our lives sleeping.
It is generally believed that sleep enables the body to repair and recover after a hard day's work. The body slows down during sleep, giving vital organs a chance to 'rest' for a while.
While the lack of sleep affects work, the latter also may lead to sleepless nights. Work-related stress keeps many bosses and workers awake at night. This is a vicious cycle which offers no real chance of escape.
What about the remedies ? The research report suggested filling city centres with "shut-eye pods", which would operate on the same principle as coin-operated toilets, allowing people to take a quick nap. It also encourages awarding "catch-up days", particularly to those with young children. However, it is rather difficult to catch up with the lost hours of sleep.
As the title of the research report suggests, sleep is becoming an increasingly elusive goal in a 24/7 world. From 24-hour TV stations to 24-hour transport, a non-stop world is emerging. But it is best to remember that there is a time for everything. We should make an effort to reserve a time slot for sleeping. We may have to pay dearly if we do not.
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