Empowered by the people | Daily News


Empowered by the people

Everyone needs to be prepared to shoulder the civic responsibilities of a good citizen. No one could be exempt from such responsibilities. The people cannot abdicate these high responsibilities and expect the nation as a whole to function justly. The people exercising sovereignty elect or vest some chosen citizens with responsibility and authority to attend to definite duties towards and of the nation on their behalf. The people need to be vigilant and watchful and continually struggle to keep the leaders at the top levels focused on the nation’s most important goals and issues lest they use and abuse power to neglect their main duties to subtly demand bribes, attend to their private and narrow concerns and even intrigues.

Every single one of the human persons who constitute the people has his or her personal dignity, honour and a worth that is immeasurable. That the people of Sri Lanka, in their distinctive communities, wish to be one people with a single nationality has been known and proved for quite some time. As it is up to them to uphold and maintain it every time they elect their representatives, all of the citizens should exercise that responsibility intelligently and consciously without giving in to transient prejudices and irrational decisions. When highly placed persons due to their flawed character tarnish the positions they hold, in addition to being personally iniquitous they cause irreparable catastrophes to the whole nation. When social and individual errors of those in high positions are allowed to continue, they become structural evils and institutional wrongs that persist for generations causing harm and injustice to people. Everywhere corrupt means get employed.

Immoral acts such as paedophilia, sodomy, rape and adultery are defective willful acts of human beings. One cannot say that it is but human to commit them just as one cannot say that it is human to steal, to lie, to deceive, to break solemn promises, to hate, take revenge, cause harm, seriously injure, kidnap, murder and in anger destroy the belongings of others. When wrongs similar to these are done by those in high positions and they try by all means to stay in office in spite of them and even succeed, something absolutely wrong happens in Sri Lanka.

The first duty of a truly national political party is to educate and upgrade all citizens to become civic conscious and socially responsible in every way. But unfortunately, it is the politicians who for their own narrow and selfish purposes wish to divide and separate the people. Their narrow and selfish purposes include the greed for power and holding on to it even unethically, immorally, undemocratically and anti-socially. This is a morbid tendency most high-level politicians suffer from.

Sobriety for national reconciliation

The Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature act in the name of all the people who are sovereign. None of the holders of office in the three branches of the State could hold office without demeaning such office unless they possess an appropriate social disposition. None of the holders of office in the three branches of the State could hold office in social alienation and isolation from the people; they all should relate to the people justly and fairly in such a way that their judgements, decisions and actions are beneficial to the people as a whole. This is not to say that they should be chummy with everyone they meet. Their most important and primary function is to individually and collectively to uphold, maintain and strengthen national reconciliation, the basis of community, the oneness of the national family and the social health and well-being of the sovereign people as a whole. No emotional attachment, friendship or loyalty to any individual or group however large should be allowed to impair the intellectual knowledge, understanding and honesty, sobriety of judgement on national reconciliation, unity and peace.

Power and influence should never be utilized towards partial ends. No individual actions or decisions should harm human fraternity, national unity and peace. It is against the natural law for any constitution to vest any individual or to let anyone arrogate to oneself unlimited power in any sector of the life of the people. It is against the natural law for any authority to interpret any norm selfishly and irrationally and twist reasoning to mutually favour one another meanly ignoring the sovereignty of the people. Benevolent concern on behalf of all the people towards a needy individual or a marginalized group of persons, however, is humane and laudable.

Between a petitioner’s claim for the dignity and rights of citizenship, the right of fair treatment and authority’s responsive reaction to it, there is an interlude. In the interlude truth, equality, justice, objectivity, impartiality and fairness should come into consideration. Lawyers intervene to obtain the right measure of justice for their clients. If the one who gives the verdict acts honourably with integrity, civilization thrives. With the disastrous abandonment of moral integrity in high places, lawlessness climbs along with the demise of civilization and culture.

The parliamentarians failed to disapprove the lack of moral integrity of a Chief Justice, who blatantly acted not only against the norms of justice but also common decencies of life, and impeach him also because of the influence he wielded over some of them. It not only amplifies the iniquities of the holder of such a high office, it also displays the iniquities of the parliamentarians who cannot get rid of an embodiment of a cancerous social evil that disregarded the rule of law because MPs preferred to look after their private interests.

Virtuous aspects harmoniously blended

It is expected of every one of those responsibly acting on behalf of the people to be persons of moral integrity. An integrated person keeping to integrity means acting consistently, always and everywhere, properly and ethically without vacillating, even when no one watches. One who is integrated has the human, intellectual, professional, psychological, ethico-moral, cultural, spiritual and virtuous aspects of life harmoniously blended.

Only a person of good upbringing and strong character possesses this integrity, this ‘wholeness’, this ability to be true and decent to oneself and others. Not all, even from among well-known people, could refer to themselves as people of good upbringing, when they, while holding positions of responsibility, act very unjustly towards the people.

It is the duty of the legislature, the executive and the judiciary to coordinate their activity that the common good is equitably and proportionately served. The great disproportion between the privileges extended to and enjoyed by the highly placed persons and the neglect and social mistreatment of the helpless poorest of the poor and the marginalized and voiceless of our society is indeed disgraceful. The already privileged are clamouring for higher salaries, duty-free vehicles, increase of travel allowances, the decrease of taxes and even super luxury chairs priced Rs.650,000 to cushion their crazy brains that have sunk to the bottom!

Meanwhile for the maintenance of adolescents that the Courts send to care homes of religious institutions the miserly sum of Rs.40/- per day is doled out! Let those who sit in high places of responsibility think for themselves and assess their social priorities and whether what they dole out for the poorest of the poor and Rs.40/- given per day for the rehabilitation of a delinquent adolescent child and how they compare with the many perks, privileges and the high cost to the tax-payer to maintain them in great comfort. They should be asked, whether even a dog in their home can be looked after on that though a JO leader thought Rs.2,500 a month adequate for a family while he needs two hundred times that.

Persons of integrity

The three branches of the State and state agencies have to rethink and change radically to bring about even a semblance of justice to society.

While the different religious bodies and institutions may set even high standards of their own, those in the state executive, legislature and judiciary and in all the state agencies under them, exercising roles of leadership in varying degrees, set the paradigms and the pace for public conduct to the whole of society. If their leadership is deficient and far below par as is evidently shown by power holders in many ways, no one can expect an acceptable level of integrity from among the ordinary people. Leaders have been focusing more on retention of power and been ego absorbed more than on serving the people. The people rather than being satisfied with the status quo should demand a much higher level of political culture from the political leaders.

A person of integrity is a person very much aware of himself, his strengths and weaknesses, and is sensitive to the effect of his feelings on others and because of a keen sense of responsibility and accountability does not succumb to his weaknesses when performing his public duties. Such a person is truthful and honest. Loyalty to his official duties, he casts aside his likes and dislikes and attends to his duties freely and impartially. Though he likes to be acceptable to others, he does not court popularity by cheap tricks, empty promises and hollow and meaningless behaviour before others, but sticks to what is just and right.

Today leadership in politics and other-other branches of government tends to corrupt all the nooks and corners of the secular spheres and even the sphere of religion that gets enticed by power, influence and filthy lucre.

It is the prophetic few in religions who could resist the universal onslaught of mysterious iniquities of social evils.

Those who exercise national leadership should be visionaries, who transform their ideas into the creative activity that also transform other people. They should be caring and gracious persons. Graciousness elevates human nature in relations, judgement and behaviour, is respectful of every person, makes one true to one’s word, especially of a solemn oath and surfaces in a sense of justice and fairness. It is a pleasing and noble exercise of human intelligence. Their competence gives them self-assurance and makes them just, bold and decisive. For them, decision making is not guesswork nor a trivial, frivolous exercise nor a foolishly stubborn act of a person who cannot accept good counsel but attention to official duty. 

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