PEOPLE’S NEEDS AND LEADERS’ GREED FOR POWER | Daily News

PEOPLE’S NEEDS AND LEADERS’ GREED FOR POWER

Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy clearly said that he wanted to be President of the United States, because it is the position from which he could do the most good to most of the people of the U.S. and of the world. He became President on January 20, 1960 and served till he was assassinated in 1963.

Having inherited sufficient wealth, he sought office not to enrich himself in any way but to give himself totally to public service. That was more than sufficient purpose of life and honour for him. As the President he donated his whole salary to charitable causes. He did not exploit his exalted position or the power he wielded to selfishly aggrandize himself with misbegotten wealth, though there would have been innumerable occasions when he could have quietly enriched himself or those closest to him. So he could justifiably challenge his fellow Americans to ‘ask not what America could do for you, but what you could do for America and the world’ to make the world a better place for everyone.

HUMANNESS, BASIS OF POWER

The purpose of power is to serve, not to overpower and oppress the people in the name of service. Each of the responsible citizens do not abdicate power but delegate to representative trustees by at elections. Elected representatives of the Legislature, and power holders in the Executive and the Public Administration and the Judiciary are delegated the power of sovereignty of the people and they should use that power for the well-being and progress of all the citizens and their common homeland. In the modern state power is delegated on the basis of humanness and not on grounds of race, religion, language or gender. ‘Sovereignty is not a mantra or a political incantation to be bandied about by less than honest politicians in the face of foreign powers who as citizens of the human world and as neighbours demand that our own citizens’ demands for human dignity and rights be respected and not annihilated by foolish and irrational politicians in power or any other agency wielding power over people.

For people to function properly in any social unit, including the family, there have to be rules. The civilized man keeps to rules, law and order. The undercivilized and the uncivilized man do not think twice about breaking the rules, including road rules, to their temporary advantage of course; he breaks the rules or ignores them, haphazardly. He creates anarchy. Power drunk politicians who do not understand this simple fact of obeying the law launch great disorder in society. The previous regime demonstrated the zenith of such disorder.

They who were delegated and empowered showed a sense of proprietorship than stewardship that is accountable for the way responsibilities were carried out. When some of those who are empowered, break the natural law and harm the human dignity and rights of any of the citizens, repress them and even deprive them of their liberty, life, freedom of expression and other inherent liberties, they not only demonstrate by their very irresponsible action their culpable ignorance of the nature of the mandate given to them, they show themselves unqualified to be depositories of political, legislative, executive or judicial power.

POWER-HOLDERS MISJUDGE POWER

Holders of power, though pretending to be ‘know-alls’, have often misunderstood the reason and meaning of being entrusted with power for a definite period of time. Some of them have acted as if they are not under any law but possessed power over all the resources of the State, the life and limb and belongings of the people and could do anything they wished even if their assessments, verdicts, decisions and actions seemed to go counter to natural justice, common sense and human decency. In Sri Lanka, before 2015, some power holders engineered threats and fear into the lives of the people that the people were deprived of serenity and peace in their day-to- day lives. The people know how each of the leaders and then latterly the siblings and the progeny of the leaders held sway over the whole country as if it exclusively belonged to them. Political pressure was exerted on the Judiciary that it may accommodate itself to the unlawful demands of political power holders. And the people are also so culpably forgetful and irrational that they again get caught to bland promises and are enticed to support those noted for irresponsible burrowing, mismanagement, swindling, nepotism and corruption to reinstate the dishonest in power as if they have turned pure as a lily after being thrown into the political wilderness.

UNWORTHY CUSTODIANS OF POWER

A custodian of power, exercising power unjustly, unfairly and improperly in an indecent and undignified manner, exercises power crudely, wickedly, maliciously ignoring objective truth and the wider common good, to prioritize one’s emotional resonance and narrowly favour a friend and thereby also oneself perversely and unreasonably. When the electronic and print media veer away from investigations and before unravelling the truth favours the power-hungry politicians rather than speaking for the seeker of justice, a social problem is also created.

A holder of power, one vested with power, could become unworthy of the trust of the people. When a head of state disrespects the sovereignty of the people, disregards the poor and voiceless who are people with human dignity to favour the rich and the privileged, he/she acts unjustly and unfairly. An irrational political position is projected and an untenable situation is justified even when it is contrary to truth and justice. The media takes up and supports hypothetical political positions whether it is a just and tenable position or not. The tendency is to achieve the goal whatever the means. The goal is acting to satisfying one’s own selfish desires, not the service and well-being of the people. When the ultimate goal consisting of one’s own ego absorbed desires becomes paramount, absolute objective values evaporate and personal prejudices predominate. This holds true whether the decision is about appointing a high official to an important position or buying commodities for ‘Sathosa’, manure for the farmers, buses for the transport board, locomotives for the railway or buying aircraft for the airline or fighter jets for the air force. If the interest of the country is paramount, the responsible high official selected would be the most qualified, capable and in some way the obvious choice; whatever is transacted, is transacted in the name of the people, for the people keeping to the most economical, most beneficial options and not on the basis of a fat commission for the ministers and bureaucrats concerned.

CONSCIENCE, A NEW SYNERGY

Greed diminishes and dehumanizes the greedy one and creates inequality and injustice. The greedy man sets no limits to his wants and takes what belongs to others; he preys on others who are socially, politically, economically weaker than he is; the greedy man has a deadened conscience; for him, getting all others to submit to his whims and fancies and even all unjust ways of acting are fair to attain his goals.

Many men and women in Sri Lanka, including some of the most powerful, do not know what to make of their lives. In their ignorance they try to fill meaninglessness with covetousness and the grip of boundless greed takes hold of them. What is Moral Integrity and what is our attitude to it? What is our attitude to falsehood, deception, cheating, treachery, conspiracy and friendship with robbers? What is our response to them?

It is a great drawback when a good many people at the top lack a national conscience. Those well known for their robbery and pilfering the peoples’ money and every form of stupid, unjust, unreasonable, lawless conduct and arbitrary use of power cannot be again put in charge of freeing the country of larceny and corruption and establishing a regime of good governance. Nor does this permit the present power-holders to justify every means to stay in power irrespective of their integrity. It is a great tragedy if out of 22 million of its people Sri Lanka cannot find 160 to 170 honest men and women to take leadership and infuse a new synergy to her political culture.

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