With the unprecedented Constitutional crisis and the political turmoil in Sri Lanka moving into its fourth week our political leaders need to be aware that what they do or fail to do would have disastrous effects more on the new and next generation than the present one.
Apparently the Constitution is being challenged as are hallowed parliamentary standing orders, ethics and principles. Democracy’s pillars are being shaken and if this dangerous trend goes unchecked Sri Lanka’s image may crumble and it is the next generation that will suffer the most.
We focused on the children and the next generation because today the United Nations International Children’s Educational Fund (UNICEF) marked Universal Children’s Day.
When a crisis-ridden parliament met last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, children were among the millions of people who saw live on television the rowdyism or hooliganism that some MPs indulged in what analysts saw as one of the most disgraceful, if not disgusting parliamentary sessions in independent Sri Lanka. Were these MPs were aware or was it they did not care about the horrible example they were setting to the children, because such behaviour is normally seen only among mafia gangsters or rowdies in marketplaces. We hope that when Parliament meets again on Friday, not only will sanity be restored, but a just solution will be found to the ongoing catastrophe.
According to UNICEF, Universal Children’s Day was first marked in 1954 and is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.
November 20 is important as it is the date in 1959, when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989, when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1990, Universal Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children’s rights.
Mothers and fathers, teachers, nurses and doctors, government leaders and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate moguls, media professionals and young people or children themselves can play an important part in making Universal Children’s Day relevant for their societies, communities and nations, UNICEF says. “The day offers us an inspirational entry-point to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that will build a better world for Children,” the UNICEF adds.
This year’s theme is “Children are taking over and turning the world blue”. This year the world is going blue! “We’re asking individuals, schools and corporate heads worldwide to go blue to help build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfill their potential, and we know you do too. Going blue activities include: sharing our promo video for Children’s day, signing the global petition and going blue in support of children’s rights in social media, and much, much more,” the world body says.
In Sri Lanka, besides the horrible example being set by some political leaders in recent weeks one of the new major problems for children is wide-scale drug peddling by unscrupulous if not heartless drug gangs often with political support or patronage. Addictive drugs with attractive names such as apple or ice are known to be sold by peddlers around schools and thousands of children are known to be addicted. These drugs often lead to a heroin addiction and cost of a puff is known to have risen to as much as Rs.5,000! Obviously most children cannot afford this. So they join the gangs or become robbers first from home, then elsewhere and eventually engage in big time robberies which will send them to jail for long terms.
We hope that once the political turmoil is ended and the movement towards a just society begins, the government would take tough action against the drug gangs.
People, specially the children, seldom or never listen to preaching only, they need to and have a right to be led by the example set by our leaders. This is a time when some political leaders apparently need to be led by children because as great religious leaders and philosophers have told us the humility and devastating honesty of children are essential factors for a better world.