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Corruption in Sri Lanka

Dr. Gunapala Edirisooriya.

Well, let me pen something different, but related--our responsibility to the younger generation.

If I am in one of those urban council authorities and I was receiving FREE meat from the butchers and if I continued to gladly accept those "gifts," how does that affect my children? What would my children think? How would that practice shape my children's thinking?

More often, children learn what is right and what is wrong from their immediate environment--home. Basically, parents' (and elders) thinking, beliefs, attitude, etc. pass on to the young ones. Now, a child who comes to know that his/her father receives "free" meat from the town's butchers (because his/her father is in one of those decision-making bodies) most probably thinks that it is a cool idea. "We get free stuff because my father is in that capacity. Isn't that cool? When I grow up I want to get a cool job like of that my father so that I also can get "free" stuff all the time." Now, isn't this how the young mind works? The seed that is planted in the young mind grows into become humongous trees down the road. Now, call that what you like! This is passed from generation to generation. Now, why do we cry about so much corruption, bribery, etc.?

Now, think about this scenario. Town butchers bring "free" meat to this father's house (because he is in one of those decision-making bodies). This man tells the delivery person, "Thanks, but no thanks. Please take these back to the person who sent these to me. I do not want these and please ask them never to send these to me." Now, imagine the lesson a child, who witnesses this incident, learns from this. Now, imagine how powerful that message is. It will last for ever. I know this and I have experienced this. let me give two examples.

Where I grew up there was a big lagoon. Young kids' past time was to go to the lagoon with fishing rods and catch some fish. I was told not to do that. One day, a group of kids teased me on my reluctance to go fishing with them. As a way out, I thought to myself, "What the heck, let me go and do some fishing." So, I decided on the spot and went fishing with other kids. At the end of the day, I came home with my share (yes, I also caught a several). On my mother's query, I told her the story. You know what she did? She cooked those and asked me to eat with my dinner and no one else was to eat it. You have no idea how embarrassed I was. Was that a powerful lesson? To this day, I haven't gone fishing again.

When one of my uncles was working at Kegalle DRO office (in the 50s) a villager one day brought and offered a pineapple as a present to my uncle for helping this man on some problem. My uncle found a knife and asked this man to clean the pineapple and cut it into slices and then offer those to everyone in the office. (Those days, there were only few workers in such places and a sizable pineapple was more than enough to entertain the crowd.) When he told me this story in my childhood, the lessons I learned still remain with me.

Now, imagine, if my uncle accepted that present and brought home to consume that at home. It is completely a different lesson his younger generation learns from such behavior. I can tell many such stories, but this is sufficient to make the point.

The lesson here is that we all have responsibilities. Many of us shirked them. Many of us trampled on them. Many of us, for various reasons, are responsible for the mess we are in today. The tragedy is not many people are willing to accept the blame, accept the due share of responsibility for our plight. Each and every one of us tries to find fault with some other entity. "Not me, it is his/her fault. I didn't do it. It is so and so who did it." Some of us may have done all kinds of things to climb the ladder. How many of us can look back and say, "I owe nothing to anybody" in the vee hours of our lives? Now, whatever said and done are in the past. If we are man/woman enough to admit our mistakes, let's do it individually, personally, and let's move on. But, trying to justify "things" for whatever reason, does NOT help any one, anything. Ostriches seem to understand what they do, the tragedy is we don't.

If we want to create a better society, it is up to the grownups. They have to think, act, conduct themselves as grownups! They cannot behave like mad dogs and complain that our country is going down the drain. If the cultural values are fast disappearing, the grownups must bear the fair share of the responsibility. A crab-mother cannot teach her young ones how to walk on a straight line! This is a universal truth, for the millionth time!

Here is my $0.02 cents on this for whatever it is worth and some of you may not like it.



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