A society can be judged by how best it treats its least fortunate, the ones who always seem to get the bitter end of every circumstance. Today I was profoundly affected by something and it made me put into context a great many things, in light of recent events in my life and in the country.
Out of the gaze of many, beyond the window of a prominent fast food outlet down Galle Road, stood a solitary 12-year-old girl, clinging to a post nearby and gazing through the establishment’s window at the images of food on its interior walls.
People would come and go from this outlet, despite the time being almost midnight and the city streets being devoid of much vehicular movement. Not once did this little girl approach anyone entering or exiting the premises, requesting for money. She just kept longingly looking inside as if to think to herself ‘when can I ever afford to buy, let alone walk into this place’; so near, yet so far.
Her gaze and the sorrow in her eyes will be something that would never leave me. Before I left, I was compelled to go up to her mother who was nearby, sitting on the floor with another child between her arms. I handed her some money and asked her to buy something for them and left, only to see the little girl waving and smiling back as I drove past.
Money can’t solve every problem, but it can provide a brief respite and a moment of glee in an otherwise life filled with sorrow and hardship.
This incident moved me in a way I never expected it to. Perhaps it might have been a number of things that I have personally been going through of late or perhaps it’s the seemingly insignificant things happening in this country (compared to far more pressing matters) that are being given unnecessary attention and scrutiny. I am, by no means a writer, and am rarely known to pen things on a regularly basis, rather, more often than not my thoughts are for self-reflection and rarely leave my own psyche.
This time however, I felt it was opportune that this be said.
I recently became actively involved in a movement known as the Campaign for Clean and Competent Candidates - a venture that is fighting to get both clean and competent representatives into Parliament for the betterment of society as a whole. While this concept has noble roots and significant benefits, it is only today that I actually realized how much change can occur by having the right representative in the right place.
What we have in abundance today are politicians. What we lack however are social SERVANTS (emphasis added).
I am 24 years old and am not privy to a long-winded history of politics, politicians and policies of yesteryear, therefore, it is not in my place to comment on or provide rhetoric to the same.
However, as a young adult of this country, what I do know in this present day and age, is what I see, hear and feel. The importance of the correct representative cannot be more justified than by the look of the 12-year-old girl gazing at the images of food.
No child should have to feel that way. We need representatives who can empathize with that simple notion and not folly with trivial matters. We don’t need representatives who use publicity opportunities to slander their opponents or boast of the good deeds done by themselves (and in some instances his/her fathers, grandfathers and everyone in their families) and their party. We need doers, who have soul and feel equally for their neighbours as much as they do for a complete stranger. We don’t need a representative who works for the “election”. We need one who works for the people. We don’t need a representative who is unapproachable and revered. We need a man or woman who considers it a privilege to hold this solemn office of MP and considers him/herself a servant of the people, not the other way around.
"I recently became actively involved in a movement known as the Campaign for Clean and Competent Candidates"
In our effort for a better tomorrow for Sri Lanka, we are no different from the little 12-year-old girl gazing through the fast food outlet window. We too long for a day, in which income inequality is relegated to the history books, politicians are clean, competent and led my a moral code, not a financial one. No one is as selfless as to disregard himself completely and work wholeheartedly for another human being. That is not what is expected of the man or woman we elect. It is the drive deep down he or she feels to uplift those less fortunate than him that matters. Deep down, we care for one another and place trust and time again in our representatives to personify on a national level that same exact sentiment, longing for the day they step-up as representatives of the people in its truest form. Alas, this has seldom been the case and we have been forced to witness the constant struggle and tug-of-war between parties and politicians for power. We don’t need a knight in shining armour or a messiah that paints pictures of bliss on stages nationwide. We need a few good men and women with the moral fibre, integrity and a natural instinct to do what needs to be done come the hour and not seek praise, plaques or posters in return. We need representatives who consider the office they hold as a duty, not a source of power; a social/moral and not a financial investment. The right person at the right time can make a difference. Each of us can bring joy to some of us, some of the time. But it will take all of us to bring about change for all of us, all the time.
Who we elect, defines who we are and who we intend to become.
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