by R Chandrasoma
( September 12, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Corruption is the Buzz Word today, and it is widely believed that the rottenness of politics and the bedevilment of governance seen in this and most other countries of the world are due to a widespread moral debasement of the movers and shakers of society. This ‘evil’ – corruption – is deemed the chief enemy of good governance and estimates of ‘national’ corruption are thought to be strongly correlated with the overall estimate of the political and moral well-being of a nation. That our Land – fabled in history and its citizens nurtured in a great religious tradition – should be among the most corrupt nations of the world should come as no surprise. Real Service – as opposed to Lip Service – involves a commitment and an engagement which, sadly, Oriental Nations are not famous for. It is in this context that the word ‘Hypocrisy’ takes centre-stage. Our people – this applies to prophets and leaders in general in varying degrees – are famous for ‘declarations of good intentions and inviolability’ while succumbing to the very opposite in the implementation of these estimable virtues. This explains why some of the most corrupt nations in the world are religiously the most orthodox. It is a feature of the human condition to balance committed evils by public professions of Godliness.
Let us turn to local politics. Corruption grows naturally because a culture of lying – of making bogus promises – is imperishably linked to practical success in politics. Insincerity is the hall-mark of the successful politician but this is not seen as a moral blemish – given that politics is two-faced. On the one hand, there is the profession of high ideals which are mostly unreachable while on the other hand, the art of public deception that secures votes and public accolades. How can these disparate urges be balanced in politics? Hypocrisy is the answer. It is Hypocrisy – the lack of truthfulness and honesty and the shaming of virtues that is the root cause of the political sickness that we see in our country and the world. Honest words and actions are politically negative and it is the Hypocrite – the bogus messenger of hope and glory that wins the day. That such a person is corrupt, is ipso facto the case – but it is important to realise that this is the sequel and not the primary cause. An honest man has to lie to get votes. He has, perforce, to embezzle to make good the promises he made to the electors. The bottom line is that he becomes a hypocrite with corruption as the necessary entailment of a job undertaken.
We have touched on political hypocrisy. No need to add that this moral blemish is near universal and the saddest development of all is the bogus religion professed by people in high places, to secure the kudos that seemingly go with religiosity, that is flaunted and exhibited. Concomitantly, there is a priesthood that finds this moral charade a boost to their own sense of importance and a strange symbiosis has developed of late between high-ranking priests and high-ranking politicians. To all such deluded folk Shakespeare’s famous dictum ‘To thine own self be true’ is the best advice. The more spiritual may reflect on the relevant Biblical injunction – If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain.