The saying of British parliamentarian Lord Dalberg Acton that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely conveys the belief that as a person’s power increases, his or her moral sense diminishes
With the conclusion of the parliamentary elections and the SLPP gaining a two-thirds majority, the objective they pursued aggressively in their campaigning and were successful in achieving. In the aftermath of the elections it is time now to make an honest and pragmatic assessment of the reality of the prevailing ground situation in the country economically and politically consequent to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is common knowledge that our economic strongholds namely the garment Industry, the tourist industry and the remittances from those who were employed overseas especially in the Middle East which provided the bulk of foreign exchange earnings to the country have suffered drastic and crippling destabilisation and on the top of this devastating situation the crisis looming in the banking sector due to its inability to recover loans granted to the business sector aggravates the already critical economic scenario and what makes it more confounding is the sky rocketing unemployment figures and the stalemate of the government’s inability to pay the salaries of the employees in the government sector to say nothing of the salaries of the employees in the private sector and in addition to this drawback, we as a country for the better part of 72 years after gaining Independence have been disunited as a nation, as the two major communities have been at war with each other.
Be that as it may, a nation to be great, it need not necessarily be big. A nation may be very big in extent of territory and population and yet be devoid of true greatness
After this election too it is very evident that we remain irreconcilably divided due to religious and ethnic divisions and suspicious of each other and due to these differences we are unable to get our economy to stabilise and get off the ground. In the midst of these catastrophic occurrences, we are heavily in debt due to the foreign aid provided for our various development projects with the attendant corruption and the rampant financial irregularities committed by those in the highest to the lowest rungs of power who have been consistently evading accountability by shifting the blame to previous regimes and as a result of which the country is in the red with regard to our debt repayment, and if we fail to make timely repayment of even one installment of the loans received, and unless there is proper financial management and discipline Sri Lanka faces a bleak economic future and our foreign aid donors would be inevitably compelled to consider Sri Lanka as a failed state, consequent to its inability to service debt repayments. Therefore it is the sacred duty and onerous responsibility of the Government to work resolutely with the best interest of the nation at heart assiduously concentrating all its efforts and energies towards resurrecting the economy, resisting evil influences that may induce it to engage in malpractices in the process, for man’s real greatness consist not in seeking his own pleasure, fame or advancement, but in daring nobly, in willing strongly, and never faltering in the path of duty, mindful of not betraying the trust reposed by the people, but bent on fulfilling their aspirations.
Qualities which determine the character of the individual, also determine the character of the nation
Nations have their character to maintain as well as individuals and under constitutional governments – where all classes more or less participate in the exercise of political power – the national character will necessarily depend more upon moral qualities of the many than of the few. The same qualities which determine the character of the individual, also determine the character of the nation. Unless they are high-minded, truthful, honest, virtuous and courageous they will not be held in high esteem by other nations and be without weight in the world.
Government in the long run is usually no better than the people governed. Where the mass is sound in conscience, morals and habit the nation will be ruled honestly and nobly, but where they are corrupt, self-seeking and dishonest in heart, bound neither by truth nor by law, the rule of rogues and wire-pullers becomes inevitable. Political rights, however broadly framed, will not elevate a people individually depraved.
A great deal of what passes by the name of patriotism in these days consists of the merest bigotry and narrow-mindedness exhibiting itself in national prejudice, national conceit and national hatred. It does not show itself in deeds but in boasting, in howling, gesticulations and boisterous shrieking, flying flags and singing songs and in perpetually grinding of long dead grievances and long-remedied wrongs. To be infested by such patriotism as this is perhaps, among the greatest curses that can befall a nation.
As there is an ignoble, so is there is noble patriotism – the patriotism that invigorates and elevates a country by noble work, that does its duty truthfully and manfully, that lives an honest, sober and upright life and strives to make the best use of opportunities for improvement that present themselves on every side.
Be that as it may, a nation to be great, it need not necessarily be big. A nation may be very big in extent of territory and population and yet be devoid of true greatness. The people of Israel were a small people, yet what a great life they developed and how powerful the influence they exercised in the destines of mankind. It was the total weakness of Athens that its citizens had no true family or home life, while her freemen were greatly outnumbered by slaves. The public men were loose, if not corrupt in morals. Its women even the most accomplished were unchaste. Hence its fall became inevitable, and was more sudden than its rise. In like manner the decline and fall of the Roman Empire was attributed to the general corruption of its people and to their engrossing love for pleasure and idleness – work in the latter days of Rome being regarded only as fit for slaves. Its citizens ceased to pride themselves on the virtues and character of their great forefathers and the empire fell because it did not deserve to live. And so that nations that are idle and luxurious that “will rather lose a pound of blood” as the old saying goes in a single combat than a drop of sweat in any honest labor must inevitably die out, and laborious energetic nations take their place.
Samuel Miles the author of the book titled “Character” has said where the national character ceases to be upheld a nation may be regarded as next to lost. Where it ceases to esteem and to practice virtues of truthfulness, honesty, integrity and justice it does not deserve to live. If character is irrecoverably lost then indeed there will be nothing left worth saving. In whatever rank you see corruption, be assured it equally pervades all ranks. While the virus of depravity exists in one part of the body-politic, no other part can remain healthy.
In conclusion it has to be stated that much of the vice of the world is owing to weakness and indecision of purpose – in other words lack of courage to resist temptation and to speak the truth – the courage to be what we really are and not pretend to be what we are not – the courage to live honestly within our own means and not dishonestly upon the means of others. Men may know what is right and yet fail to exercise the courage to do it. They may understand the duty they have to do, but will not summon up the requisite resolution to perform it. The weak and undisciplined human being is at the mercy of every temptation he cannot say “NO” but succumbs miserably before it and if his companionship be bad he will be all the easier to be led away by bad example into wrong doing.