by Gamini Weerakoon
‘Development’ is the name of the game. The country is going through rapid development, our government leaders tell us. Roads, harbours, airports, towns, etc. are being built at rapid pace – and cricket stadiums are sprouting up faster than the ‘sixes’ being pulled by Mahela Jayawardene, Dilshan , Kumar Sangakkara – by our leading politicians and statisticians of the Central Bank.
Every Sri Lankan, ‘patriot’ or not should be in a development mood, and putting his shoulder to the wheel, as all ‘good men’ should do.
The Flower of the Nation
Last Monday – International Children’s Day – the regular ‘do gooders’ made their contributions to development. ‘Children’ as every hackneyed politician and journalist will tell you, are ‘the flower of the nation’.
And what lot newspapers, TV, politicians and those committed social service workers waiting for a good cause to be supported did to show the flower of the nation blossoming out.
However the Flower of the Nation wilted somewhat when little darlings in a school in Galle pelted the principal with stones and sent him to hospital.
Selected children were hugged, kissed, hair tousled, whether they liked it or not. Perhaps some of them liked the presents that came their way. Among the ‘good people’ were of course politicians. TV camera crews and press cameramen who happened to be there as it happens annually.
Whether the children liked and were happy about these ceremonial acts was nobody’s business but the performing adults no doubt relished it all.
The politicians basked in the reflected glories provided by the hard work put in by the social service workers. Their contribution as some of their admiring reporters said was to have graced the occasion.
Those non political participants on such occasions no doubt make significant contributions although their modus operandi may not be entirely altruistic. They danced till the wee hours in the morning, satisfied their exhaustion with warm kiributh and washed it down with champagne.
It shouldn’t be the concern of any one. Why can’t they help the poor – dance till dawn and sip champagne afterwards? Only jealous Marxists of yore can take pot shots at these ‘do gooders’ pushing the nation towards 6, 7 or 8 per cent of the GDP.
Veddahs for development
The other day we read of a valiant effort made by our cricket playing politicians to civilize the Veddahs. Some cynics ask whether politicians are civilizing the Veddahs or the Veddahs are civilizing politicians.
Some book-worms – intellectuals as they call themselves – claim that the Veddahs are a very special people, the last of the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka and their pure undiluted blood and culture is worth much more than the entire pandu playing cricketing types who are trying to civilize them.
This kind of retrogressive thinking will be supported by anthropologists and sociologists of Harvard, Cambridge, some in FUTA and some Colombo 7 types but the vast majority of people will want Veddahs to be true blue Sinhalayas and play at the Pallekelle and Weeraketiya stadiums.
Some others say that Veddahs should not be taught cricket but archery. These doughty warriors who survived in our jungles much longer than the history of the Mahavamsa, with their bows and arrows could: win Olympic Golds in archery. But then archery is not as a popular as cricket.
Conscientious cricket objectors will certainly not go along with the gentlemen of Bintenne wearing leaves and playing cricket at the SSC and certainly not at Lords. But from the Christian fundamentalist point of view the Veddahs wear many spreading leaves unlike the tiny ovoid single fig leaves of Adam and Eve.
Whether these indigenous sons can be saved by the game of the flannelled fools is moot point, says a wild life observer who notes that it goes along with the current thinking that elephants displaced from their traditional habitats can be saved from extinction by hiring them for rides on the beaches of tourist hotels.
This is all consonant with the current ‘development’ thinking in tourism: Sell the Veddhas and the elephants. If Buddhsim can be sold to tourists, why not the rest?
All good men
This is the thinking of good patriotic Sri Lankans whom we will categorize as ‘good men’.
About a 100 years ago, the British philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote an essay on the Harm that Good men do. Russell’s description of an ideal good man was one who’ does not smoke, drink, avoids bad language, attends church regularly and holds correct opinion on all subjects.
A hundred years have passed since Russell expressed his opinion on the ‘Good Man’ of time. We leave it to our readers to think about the good Sri Lankan man of our times. He certainly does not drink (in public), can’t avoid bad language even in parliament, and the wisdom of his opinions have to be acknowledged by all suckers who are beholden to him. COURTESY: THE SUNDAY LEADER