With only three more days of vigorous campaigning for the August 17 general election which could be a turning point in Sri Lanka’s journey, more than ever before the sovereign people are being given the awareness and education to vote wisely in an election that is free, fair and relatively peaceful.
Most people, other than those who have vested interests, have been made aware that if they vote for personal gain or party glory, it could be an act of selfishness or self-centredness or even an act of wickedness. Most people have been made aware, through the free media and mainly the regular multi-party TV debates, that they need to think not only of this election but of the next generation. On this basis it could be an act of wickedness or even evil to vote for candidates against whom there is substantial evidence of involvement in crimes such as corruption, frauds and bribery, narcotics or ethanol smuggling, rape of women or connections with casinos and other forms of gambling.
Selfishness or self-centredness is not only short-sighted but also sinful because we do not care for others or the common good of the country but are largely concerned about personal interests, benefits or comforts. This I factor or ego-centredness is condemned by all religions which proclaim liberative spirituality. If a person is not internally liberated from slavery to selfishness or the I factor, then this vice produces deadly side effects such as greed and excessive or cut-throat competitiveness, jealousy and bitterness, anger and unforgiveness.
Such selfish or self-centred people are often driven by the desire to be the first, to build bigger barns or bank accounts, sometimes even in secret accounts overseas. If they cannot do it by fair means, they have little hesitation in using foul methods. Sometimes even little children are put on this eventual disaster course by their parents when they tell lies, give false addresses, and glorified bribes to enter national schools. The children see the parents doing this at the very start or ABC of their education and later the children don’t hesitate to play foul to pass examinations, in sporting events, in relationships and other areas. While cheating in examinations is known to have been going on for a long time, cheating in sports started with the globalized capitalist market economic system. The grand and great motto is still there: “When the one Great Scorer comes to write against your name, he will write not whether you won or lost – but how you played the game.” The motto is still there and quoted but largely on paper. Latest reports indicate that even schoolboys or girls are being given or encouraged to take banned substances like steroids to give them more artificial strength or stamina for sports. Cricket, soccer and other popular sports are known to be caught up in the cancer of match fixing or using banned stimulants. Children would do well to remember the tragedy of the Tour de France hero Lance Armstrong who was banned and disgraced for taking artificial stimulants.
During the past five years, mainly due to the breakdown of law and order, lack of accountability and transparency, it is widely agreed that we had the worst Parliament since Independence with the august assembly degenerating largely into a den of robbers. The people need to use their votes as a whip to cleanse the supreme legislative and policy-making body so that it will comprise men and women of integrity and honesty committed to transparency and accountability and those who are ready to sincerely, selflessly and sacrificially work for the common good of the people.