Successive governments have upheld institution building and not its development. Total development rests in blending the two. Many politicians aren’t even aware of the difference between the two. Had they known, this country would be into clean governance - corruption free and selfless service.
A computer ceases to be in the absence of software. Similarly the software in governance is an essential component for clean governance which adheres to equality, human dignity and justice. Strikes, picketing, work to rule campaigns all pooled into one signal a shortfall in the software of governance where people feel discriminated and insecure.
When law enforcement is hindered by political interference, the public experience a sense of let down. Constitutional irregularities result in marginalisation. The denial of judicial, public service and police independence leads to an ineffective executive arm of government - a violation of people’s sovereignty.
All these, inter-alia, reflects the absence of the software of governance needless to mention the ruthless rigidity of the ‘72 and 78 Constitutions, the self - fostering amendments that followed and the unimplemented dangling carrot of an LLRC report.
No amount of road building and infrastructure availability would compensate for such inefficiency.
The neglect of software is not restricted only to government. Far worse is the lack of public awareness on such moral deceit. As Martin Luther king proclaimed ‘’there is nothing more dangerous to the world than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.’’
Dulling the intellect coupled with the rising numbers of ‘hurrah boys’ and ‘Yes men’ have helped status quo continuity. Spreading its tentacles far and wide, the neglect of software has gripped all human activity - the rot increasingly seeping in to the larger social whole assures an incompatibility in ideology and implementation, a distancing of what is and what should be and the polarisation of a higher purpose and the grosser self.
For instance, to be human is far removed from’ being human’. The physical elements alone do not necessarily arrive at being human which basically is the software component. The hardware bearing the physical components of eyes, ears, nose and the like ought to elevate us to a higher objective through the software of kindness, gratitude, sincerity and sublime feelings
Whether this is realised is questionable considering the prevailing moral degeneration.
Other instances of software being undermined by hardware are in the public service, the judicial process, places of worship not to miss out on those notorious yoga classes out there that keep popping up like corn, islandwide.
The software found in the law’s spirit is least known. Famed as we are in implementing the law to the very letter, are we any better off?
India’s one time Chief Justice Bhagwati addressing a Colombo based conference sometime ago drew audience attention to the Indian judiciary’s great interest in the law’s spirit over the law per se.
Obviously he was into the law’s software - its spirit which appeals only to a highly creative, sharp and astute mind. He viewed as futile any endevour to adhere only to the law’s physical enactments most related to this article’s mainstay- the hardware and software of governance so to speak.
According to an innovative policeman, Anura Gunawardena, fines alone would not help bring about a disciplined society.
‘’It's the home - precisely the parents who could help in disciplining the children,’’ he said.
The absence of software is also very conspicuous in the many yoga centres - the fad of today that have missed out on the essence of this ancient art of total personality development - both mind and body.
‘’It’s like putting the cart before the horse. The vitals have got to be first taught before one goes into physical excercises,’’ Dr. Shanthi Kulatunga of the Colombo University’s Institute of Indigenous Medicine - a yoga specialist says in her doctorate on this subject being from Benares University.
All aspects of Cultivating a non - violent mind, keeping off emotional and physical harrassment, refraining from lies, practising honesty, maintaining mind and body cleanlines as well as upholding celibacy, she informed are priorities in teaching yoga before getting on to yogic postures.
Laying much emphasis on this - the software aspect of yoga was Patanjali - the great Rishi who lived in 300 BC.
‘’ It was this Rishi who insisted on the mind and body synchronisation . If not , yoga remains only within the restricted domain of what is best described as mechanical or physical,’’ she insisted.
Certainly, it reminded this writer of the large numbers that throng temples, mosques, churches and kovils who betray their religious leaders by not conforming to their teachings. This then is not to rule out the bona fide worshipper. Once again the presence of hardware over software.
The need of the hour is the practice of religion over rituals. The futility of mechanical worship is seen when one is into deceit, cunning, greed, envy, jealousy, hatred, double standards and so on -once again the software receding, leaving the hardware to yield results - a hopeless state.
Civilisational growth, modern inventions, discoveries, state of the art machinery, offices, high rise buildings economic growth, a rise in per capita income have failed in sustainable development. The neglect of humanness, equitable growth, equality ,human dignity, accountability, professionalism, justice , fair play - alĺ part of which cannot be measured in terms of physical growth contained in hardware development.
The social pull being more towards externalities, the sublime has lost all meaning.
For instance parental ambition is geared towards the child’s 10 As - a stepping stone towards social status - never mind the fleecing professional he would turn out to be.
There is a moral void that needs to be filled in this country.
The politicians could make good that moral space becoming role models or torchbearers. At least the few that are equal to the task could take up the whistle because the moral dearth among many politicians is public knowledge.
This Vesak could be one of firm resolution to bring back the lost values that Buddhism upholds. The Buddha’s message transcends pandals and lanterns.
The nobility of thought therein is for the illumination of the inner self or mind which then is an impossibility with political ambition, the unending thirst for power, money, the low cunning, scheming and plotting that politicians are well versed in that has now gripped much of the social mass.
Until such realisation of selfless service, politicians cannot call themselves Buddhists but will remain marauding political Buddhists that use this treasured philosophy for political ends.