Something is wrong somewhere among the successful

| by Gomin Dayasri

(December 18, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A man of repute inquired from his nephew, a CEO of one of the most prestigious international companies, to name a few successful people of his generation for a project with a charitable disposition where there will be no worthwhile return except the feeling of satisfaction.
Few days later the enterprising young man in his forties returned without a name in mind. His comments were more disturbing -“Mama, you may still find a few from your generation but not from mine. They may not seek compensation in ready cash but it has got to be forthcoming in some other way”. It showed a gap between two generations that augurs badly for the future of a nation.
He cleverly distinguished a “few” from the past to “none” from the present among the successful. It needs a correction. My generation of the “past” has to share as much blame as the succeeding generation of the “present”. Yet in that older generation there was a few among the most successful who stood up for the country without any expectation of a return that no yuppy of today cares to undertake?
Doughtiness in dealing with the mighty, fearlessly, was an obligation most of the preceding generations practiced when by error, lapse or intent the rights of others were trampled. The successful of that age did not care whether it was the high and the mighty of the land they encountered when they dared to take on and confront.
President Premadasa won the presidential election and came to court a week after claiming millions as damages in defamation. Opposing Counsel C. Thiagalingam Q.C thundered at the District Judge banging his fist on the bar table looking the President in his eye to utter: “This man’s reputation is not worth two cents”.
Premadasa smiled but there were no retaliation with guns, fists, vans or ropes and withdrew the case in a dignified manner. Those were days when a case was good you can tell the client to relax and sit back. No more can such advice be given. Better to ask them to toss a coin.
Numbers fighting for causes are dwindling with each passing generation. Success often walks hand in hand with lackeys and pawns. Among the less successful, the more forthright are found. They are not looking towards the road to success. The future of the country is better in such hands.
It’s the successful that carry the shame but for a negligible few of the best. Their concern is the more for the butter than the bread to extract the cream.
Admired is the sterling worth of seniors with pride in their fierce onslaughts on behalf of the aggrieved. It’s a handful that chose to follow suit. Most of my generation is weak and feeble in a desire to retain their glory of success. They are indeed servile and docile to the powerful and the rich. Their understudies pick these traits making the next generation still weaker. The age of the Straw Man has arrived followed by an era when professionals may become puppeteers.
Search in vain for a counsel with guts volunteering without a fee to stand up for rights and fight without a trace of fear against money and power. Silva fought in court without a fee when J.R. Jayewardane threw a hundred thousand workers out of employment for participating in the July strike of 1977.
Worse are those younger ones seeking Presidential honors. Some reach the maximum in displaying their sycophancy for the greed of a title.
Listening to successful young people both in the private and public sector, they select their words carefully to displease none wanting to satisfy every living being on the planet. They fear to speak openly on the stark reality, couched in convoluted phrases to cover controversy, without realizing their cowardice is on display. They think they act smart but to any simple mind they sound like orchestrated zombies.
So different to the times when the civil servants had courage to speak their mind to ministers or heads of companies had the pluck to show the stupidity of a ministerial directive in respectable language. Most often it was accepted with good grace.
Blame cannot be apportioned to politicians or those holding positions in power but should be shifted to the society we live in. Face it- much of the fault is our responsibility.
Chief Justices from the time of H.N.G. Fernando were with whom you can heatedly disagree in court or elsewhere, yet amicably resolve any dispute without a slight- a tradition gracefully restored by Asoka de Silva and Shirani Bandaranayake after the Sarath Silva interlude. In fairness he was intelligent upright and honorable man before an evil spell disturbed him. Often the fault is with us for not firmly guiding justice along the straight path, as they are basically never unreasonable.
The able among them never care for pampering or pandering.
Having criticized the president on an infirmity on a live late night TV talk show on state media, received awake up call from the president early next morning to explain his stand credibly. There was no trace of rancor. It was a friendly exchange of views where an astute politician felt an explanation was required. If criticism is taken with good grace why should the state media display such servile sycophancy?
Most ministers except the dumb bimbos give a good hearing to views they’d rather not hear. Most certainly the very few spoken to: Sarath Amunugama, Tissa Vitarane, Champika Ranawaka and Wimal Weerawansa genially absorbed much though they may not always agree with such.
Probably affable Nimal Siripala de Silva and G.L. Peiris would give a patient hearing since they are receptive to contrary views. Is it the timidity in our grain that we remain silent without directly accessing the proper authority to complain or confront?
The best exponents of shameless sycophancy are found in the private sector that was once the preserve of the fearless. The downfall started after they began to pay in hard cash a price to be courtiers for which titles, award and rewards were forthcoming. The Top Ten are the worse offenders for the spin offs received under varying regimes. They will never raise Cain.
Head of the public service, intellectually refined Lalith Weeratunga, values healthy criticism and responds spiritedly. He appreciates a public servant with a backbone. In a learning curve he takes any criticism objectively and is smart to understand its value. Without encouraging public servants to make their uninhibited observations no worth could be extracted from them. Do young bureaucrats prefer to take servile sycophancy as the comfort route for their advancement? They deserve the treatment they receive as pet poodle of ministers.
The nation will shrink if the young fail to assert. Able and talented, often more competent than their predecessors, yet there is something lacking in their docile outlook that makes them afraid. As they keep climbing they become progressively weaker and more accommodating, losing the will to assert. If young people with talent and skill become pulp and paste, what does the future hold for the country? Ending on a passing personal note it was only by asserting that I succeeded.
Sri Lankans are very fair of any political coloration if they know there is no personal gain as you assert. Most of the successful young do for gain so they have to be among the servile sycophants.


Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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