Nation building, Zen and art of Motorcycle maintenance’ - EDITORIAL


These are days when parents have to motivate children with positive thoughts and help them envisage victory after being engaged in a struggle. We are in an era where we have to make a struggle to live, study, find food, retain jobs and stand up for what’s right. For this we must ensure that our loved ones engaged in the struggle to live and prosper emerge as victors. 

But there can be people out there who dedicate some time from their lives to defeat evil. There are citizens of this country who would want to defeat this ‘unelected’ regime; where its present president came to power not through the vote of the citizens, but from support inside the parliament. There are citizens in this nation who’d want to change this regime and install a new one after an election. And those who contribute to that change might not even stand in public with the winners, but prefer to play watchdog because ‘power’ has the potential to corrupt lawmakers. 

So we have love and hate in society as tools to work with. As much as we love hard-working genuine people we hate the not so genuine ones who prosper by adopting unethical means. As much as society must be cleansed of its evils, parents also go that extra mile to put things in order when their offspring have to be taught what’s right and wrong. We’ll now encounter a problem in the future when we have to choose a method to cleanse this society of evil when the next elections are done with. Whatever system that is used for that purpose must be done with emphasis thrown on morals, ethics and fair play. 

Just the other day this writer was browsing through the book ‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance’ penned by Robert M. Pirsig and a thought instantly popped up that this publication might just be what the ‘doctor’ ordered for a ‘new Sri Lanka’. The book is about a father doing a tour on motorbike with his son and the duo discussing ethics of life and how to sustain a meaningful existence on planet earth with the rest of the human beings. During the summer trip discussions both dad and son delve into subjects such as epistemology (a study of philosophy with emphasis on gaining knowledge), history and the philosophy of science among other interesting subjects. The book addresses the fundamental question of ‘how to live’. The book offers an insight into how reconciling can be adopted in subjects such as science, religion and humanism. 

It would serve well if some of the theories and content in the book can be put into the minds of children in special sessions conducted in classrooms; which would be a welcome break from monotonous boring study sessions which are mostly aimed at making students passing exams and turning them into mechanical creatures. 

Some of us are indeed mechanical creatures and blurt out words without thinking of consequences. We hurt people in society because we don’t know empathy. We even pay bogus complements to those with limited talent because we cannot be bothered to think deep and say something meaningful to bridge the gap between dream and reality. By doing so haven’t we sent astray some of our loved ones when choosing job careers, religion, sport and at least once when choosing the Executive President of this country? 

There are people in this nation who don’t entertain the thought that Sri Lanka can be changed for the better. These are the people who have nothing to do with the beautiful word called ‘hope’. Remaining entangled in negative thoughts for years on end has dulled their minds. But there are ‘thinkers’ who never take off their thinking caps; those who can foresee a change in the voting pattern in Sri Lankan politics. Till then, these thinkers and their ideas for change will be rubbished. Just for the record and to motivate these ‘thinkers’ it must be mentioned that Pirsig’s book ‘Zen and the art of Motorcycle maintenance’ had 121 rejections before it was accepted by a publisher. 

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