12 October 2018

Notes for a Manifesto: Sports

We don't make it often, not in terms of medals nor the greater virtues of sports

Those who encourage children to take up a sport often speak about the virtues. Sports builds character. Sports teaches many things, we have all heard: courage, teamwork, determination, the ability to be gracious in defeat and humble in victory, fairness, integrity, responsibility and respect. Not all of these can be taught or learnt in a classroom, obviously. 

Now almost all children engage in sports and games, either in a formal, structured setting (in a school or club) or informally (in the back garden, village commons, paddy fields, reservoirs or shrub jungle).  The question is, if playing with and against others is such an important part of growing up, how is it that the associated values have not got ingrained into the worldview and practice of the collective? Indeed, how is it that the opposite attributes (timidity, crass individualism, sloth, arrogance, bitterness, unfairness, deceit, irresponsibility and disrespect seem to have triumphed at every turn in every sector?  

Getting these things right alone won’t sort out the issues at the macro level, obviously. However, when sports is such an integral part of school life, and when sport can do so much, we need to ask why the yield is so meager. 

We need to recognize, though, that the word ‘sports’ is for the most part about honing talent, improving skills and winning.  Apart from M.J.M. Lafir winning the World Amateur Billiards title in 1973, Nishantha Fernando winning the world title in carrom in 2012, Sri Lanka winning 5 world championships in carrom, the Cricket World Cup in 1996, the T-20 title in 2014 and a couple of Olympic medals, we haven’t really produced world beaters on a consistent basis. 

Efstratios Grivas, Chess Grandmaster and one of the most respect authorities on coaching chess, a coach himself who helped Sri Lanka win a category gold medal at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway in 2014, has an interesting take on ‘talent’. The following Facebook post contains a lot of lessons, and not just for chess.

‘In 1984, just before the Thessaloniki Olympiad, a match between Greece and China was played in the Greek town of Kavala. Both countries were considered weak at those times, without any GM in their line-ups. The Scheveningen format match was played only in men boards, as the Chinese didn’t line-up a women team. Greece won by 19½ to 16½ and both teams performed nicely in the Olympiad: China was 12th and Greece 31st. In the coming years China became a super power and especially in women where a lot of World Champions were ‘produced’. Finally, in the last Olympiad China hit a duo, wining both sections, crowing the development program which started in the early 80s. What we can learn from these facts is that ‘Geniuses are made - not born’ and as I have repeatedly written, ‘Talent is the excuse of the failed’. Do not let yourself carried away by ‘destiny’ - try to have quality work with an expert and you will reap success.

That’s for the sportsmen and sportswomen. It’s not just about them working hard, though. About 15 years ago local rugby legend Chandrishan Perera related an interesting story about the skills of Sri Lankan children. Apparently some sports outfit in Australia had done a worldwide study on hand-eye coordination. It was found, he said, that it was Sri Lanka children (up to the age of 15) who had the best hand-eye coordination in the world. That’s it. Only until 15. He opined that identification of the truly gifted, picking the right discipline for the particular child and systematic training are lacking. Naturally, our children don’t do too well at international events after a certain age. 

Systems. That’s key. The issue is not that we don’t have systems, but they are either riddled with holes or are peopled with the corrupt or incompetent or both.  Most sports bodies are plagued with controversy with allegations of financial mismanagement as well as tinkering with the selection process and effectively sidelining and demoralizing the most deserving.  

The principles of good governance such as transparency and accountability are severely compromised. People with competence and integrity keep away or are hoofed out of organizations.  Sports bodies, from the National Olympic Committee to the apex and regional organizations are veritable fiefdoms.  Elections are stage-managed. There’s give and take.  Much of it passes under the radar of those concerned, i.e. if they are actually interested in observing what happens.

Money is part of the problem of course; there are perks involved and there is ample income-earning opportunities for those who are corrupt. Oversight, then, is lacking. A culture of corruption has outlawed all that is good, decent and civilized in sports. It is even apparent in the junior levels in the schools. Much of it has little to do with the particular sport, per se.

In schools, for example, there’s a certificate mania. Parents are more interested in their children obtaining certificates than learning basic skills. Certificates are valuable. They can help children make a case for being appointed as prefects. Those who dish out such titles don’t seem to be interested or have the ability to identify and reward the much vaunted virtues of engaging in sports in the first place.  Selections are rackets. There is favoritism. Coaches offer private ‘classes’ and this forces parents to pocket out more bucks because they are naturally persuaded to think that their children could get the short end of the stick if the coach were to be displeased.  

Children naturally pick up on all this. Rules can and will be bent, they learn. It’s sanctioned by one and all. It’s part of the story. Conflict of interest abound. Administrators, referees, umpires and arbiters, coaches, parents and players have tainted themselves. Money talks. Power talks. Even those who are really good at what they do come to believe that performance alone won’t help.  And so it grows. 

Too often, we put all this down to the fact that we are not a rich country.  Then again, there are countries who manage sport much better than we do, even though they are not exactly rolling in gold.  It’s all about doing the best we can with the resource complement we are endowed with.  

Systems. Personnel. Processes that ensure that the right people occupy the right positions. Sri Lanka’s sports sector urgently require systems, personnel and processes that privilege a commitment to fundamentals, discipline and hard work even as they together operate as a bulwark against corruption and incompetence. We may not taste victory immediately, but if we get the fundamentals right, we would be giving it our best shot. Right now, sports is business and a useful tool in furthering other interests unrelated to the sport.  This must change.

Over to you, Messers Nagananda Kodituwakku, Rohan Pallewatte, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Maithripala Sirisena and any other individual entertaining hopes of becoming the next President of Sri Lanka.

Other articles in this series

Malinda Seneviratne is a political analyst and freelance writer. malindasenevi@gmail.com

09 October 2018

Sportsmen and Sportswomen Beware!


Some get caught, some don't, but those who do the hanky panky know they've done it

When did cheating begin? When did ethics go down the tube? What happened to sportsmanship? When did ‘play up, play up and play the game’ go out of fashion? 

Some may have heard of the last two lines of ‘Alumnus Football,’ a poem by Grantland Rice, an early 19th century sportswriter from the USA:

For when the one Great Scorer comes to write against your name,
He marks — not that you won or lost — but how you played the game. 

Who first gave the finger to that elegant line? We don’t know the answers to these questions. All we can safely say is that when the first rule was made, written or unwritten, breaking it was scripted into the narrative. Some broke, some bent, some crept through loopholes and when they were noticed and plugged found others through which they could get to the other side. The other side, ladies and gentlemen, is a country called Personal Gain where honor, dignity, team, teammates and everything that is wholesome in sports are outlawed.

Now there are people who talk about the ‘good old days’ but the truth is that bad things did happen even back then. There were old boys’ clubs and old girls’ clubs that covered up. There were scapegoats. There was naming and shaming as well as hushing up. The uncomfortable was swept under the carpet, hard drives so to speak were erased. It happened in government, colonial projects, corporates, councils, boards and sports arenas. 

It still happens. There were bookies, punters and match-fixers, then as now. The motive then as now, was bucks and prestige; the amounts were less and the mechanisms of scrutiny were poorer back then. So let’s not kid ourselves about a glorious past where the ‘money-motive’ was absent. 

The existence of hanky-panky does not mean, however, that we ignore it. There are measures that can be taken. There are preventive mechanisms, there are punishments that can be meted out.  In this the authorities have a key role to play and so do fans who want clean and fair competition. Perhaps the biggest burden lies on the shoulders of the sportspersons themselves. 

It cannot be easy. There will be selectors, coaches and administrators who play favorites. There will be a ninety nine shortcuts, all of them shady, and one path of clarity which might be longer than patience can suffer.  It is human to be tempted, and yet it is not inhuman to resist. That is what makes the difference. 

Rice, for example, defended the right of football players to make a living as professionals, but was resolute in objecting to they way money dominates sports to the point that ethics gets footnoted or scripted out of the equation. 

He observed all this thus:

"Money to the left of them and money to the right
Money everywhere they turn from morning to the night
Only two things count at all from mountain to the sea
Part of it's percentage, and the rest is guarantee”

And yet, Rice insisted that men and women can rise above all this. They are the heroes, their heroics keep sports alive in ways that money just cannot. We all remember how Tamim Iqbal, came back to bat, cast on his left wrist fractured by a vicious delivery from Suranga Lakmal. We saw this opener turned last-man stood tall helped Bangladesh push the score from 229 to 261. People still remember Anil Kumble bowling with a broken jaw in Antiqua and Graeme Smith’s one-handed battle at the SCG in 2009, and of course Murali; taunted, vilified and no-balled, smiling through it all. 

Rice in fact celebrated such things. The first two lines of the well-known verse read thus:

Keep coming back — and though the world may romp across you spine —
Let every game’s end find you still upon the battling line

To go back to ‘the good old days’ if one was halfway smart one could get away with most things. Today, money will bail you out, but then again you are always on camera and you never can tell who has crept into your laptop, tab or smart phone. There are benefits and there are costs. If you err on ethics you can err on anything else. You can twist the rules but you can also trip or be made to trip. 

In a world where there are grandmasters of hacking even as there are code-writing wizards, perhaps it’s good to look to the end, respice finem  as the Trinity motto goes.  The question is simple: where do you want to be at game’s end. Standing or cowering or slinking away into the dusk? Do you want to be a by-hook-or-by-crook victor? Would you rather be able to stand ramrod straight at the end of the day’s play, with the right to be humble in victory and unbowed though gracious in defeat?

Rice got it right. He didn’t elaborate on the identity but it’s clear that ‘The Great Scorer’  is  unpretentious and nevertheless extremely powerful. The Great Scorer can have many names. Conscience — a name as good as any other. That cannot be hacked, friends.

This is the 2nd in a series of articles published in the SUNDAY MORNING newspaper under the heading 'Interception'

Also read:
The importing mania in school cricket

08 October 2018

Mark Field, and the forgotten dimensions of misfortune and unfairness

The United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Asia-Pacific at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mark Field, is upset, we hear. He believes that it is unfortunate and unfair to represent the Geneva Resolution as inter as interference by the international community in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs.’  

He is upset because he believes ‘the UK, along with many other friends of Sri Lanka, continues to warmly endorse the government’s principled decision to co-sponsor a resolution that provides a valuable framework for peace-building and reconciliation.’

So let’s talk of principles, that subjective notion which lends itself to abuse in diplo-speak. What gives Field an edge here is co-sponsorship. After all, if the government, which technically represents the people, have signed some document, objectors can be dismissed as spoilers. That the government did not have a mandate to be flippant about sovereignty is pertinent, but that’s easily ignored.   

Since Field is attached to the Commonwealth Office he would know a lot about such things. Simply put the entire enterprise was about enslavement attended naturally by plunder and ethnic cleansing. He would know that the bloody operation could count on one thing: some slaves would be willing to trade body-chains to mind-chains. Such slaves there were and such slaves there are. They are the ones who are ready for cooptation; happy accessories after the fact of domination, one way or the other. They ‘go along’ simply because that’s what is dictated by the servility they embraced. 

As for ‘Friends of Sri Lanka,’ Field should know that in international politics friendship is probably the cheapest word around. There is no friendship as such outside of appearances and courtesies; there is self-interest, period.   

In fact he has let it slip. He has called for the replacement of the Prevention of Terrorism Act with a new Counter-Terrorism Act ‘which meets international standards’ (which of course the UK and it’s partner in international crime, the USA, regularly dip in the blood of the disposable, shall we say?). The reason? Well, Field says it’s what ‘the diaspora and others in the UK’ ask him about regularly, and therefore makes it something they [the diaspora, others and the UK] like to see. Now that is undisguised, honest, self-interest. The constituency is back home, not here in Sri Lanka.

Moving on, Field, who is visiting Sri Lanka, wants to focus on ‘finding the truth’.  ‘It is fundamental’ he says. The truth, he says, is essential to restoring real confidence among communities. To this end, he wants to see ‘progress on accountability and truth-seeking mechanisms which (the mind-chained representatives of) Sri Lanka committed to in 2015.’

He is correct. Truth helps. Accountability is important. The mechanism, however, cannot work if it is designed by outsiders on account of pressure from non-nationals and agreed upon by ‘nationals’ without a mandate and moreover wedded to colonial ghosts. In other words, what’s unfortunate and unfair is for the likes of Field to whine and act as though history never happened, as though there was no bad after-taste, as though structures of domination are things of the past and as though politics of the moment and politics of the homeland (UK) have nothing to do with all this.

But he’s correct. Truth does help. Accountability is important. And charity begins at home. And that, takes us to a more inclusive discussion on misfortune, unfairness, accountability and truth-seeking. 

Let Field, his ‘international friends’ and constituency reflect on the following:

‘A catalogue of antiquities and other cultural objects from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) abroad,’ is the title of a book by P.H.D.H. De Silva, published in 1974.  It lists a considerable set of known artifacts stolen from this island.  There are over 15,000 items listed.  The loot it seems has ended up in 23 countries and 140 holding facilities.  The vast majority are in Britain.  Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Berkshire, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Sheffield, and Windsor all have ‘Little pieces of Ceylon’ so to speak.  All stolen goods.  For antique and historical value, each and every amulet, the tiniest statuette, the most fragile manuscript with hardly legible lettering, is priceless. 

Perhaps it was an evacuation agreed upon. ‘Co-sponsored,’ if you will by the ideological ancestors of the current set of tag-alongs. However, if we abandon, as we should, the semantics, we are left with the immutable truth of theft.

There are truths Field would be more familiar with, such as the Theft Act of 1968 in the United Kingdom. Let’s go to Article 22, ‘Handling stolen goods’. It refers to ‘a person handles stolen goods if (otherwise than in the course of the stealing) knowing or believing them to be stolen goods he dishonestly receives the goods, or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, disposal or realisation by or for the benefit of another person, or if he arranges to do so.’  Article 22(2) declares that ‘A person guilty of handling stolen goods shall on conviction on indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.’

The curators of all the facilities including the British Museum holding anything taken from any colony should therefore be incarcerated. More truths: The British Museum acquired in 1898 a collection of 2,227 manuscripts (prose and verse) mostly in Sinhala, Malayalam, Tamil and Pali gathered by Hugh Nevill between 1864 and 1897. Nevill never completed the critical catalogue he had set out to produce, but K.D. Somadasa compiled a detailed description in seven volumes which the British Library Press published in 1987.  

It is unlikely that these were the only manuscripts ferreted out of the country by the British. The Cornell University Library, for example, holds the original of a ‘Catalogue of the Sinhala Manuscripts in the British Museum’ compiled by Don Martino De Zilva Wickremasinghe and published in 1900.

If Field wants truth and accountability, since he’s right there in the Commonwealth Office, he can initiate a full investigation into these despicable thefts sanctioned by the British Governments of the time, so that confidence can be built between Sri Lankans and British citizens. Then, Field’s logic forces us to be more optimistic about true friendship. It is fundamental, to use the term Field prefers. Fundamental includes returning all things robbed from this island in the name of remorse and in the hope of reconciliation. 

And so, in the name of possible friendship, let Mark Field make a full statement of disclosure. And in the process, let us hope that this gentlemen who waxes eloquent about the miseries, real or imagined, suffered by Sri Lankans, answers the following questions:

Would shipping out anything from this island constitute theft? Will the Theft Act be enforced to the letter with regard to goods stolen from this island? Will steps be taken to return the ‘Hugh Nevill Collection’ (sic) and all items detailed in De Silva’s catalogue be returned?

The United Kingdom’s Minister of State for Asia-Pacific at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Mark Field seems fascinated with the truth. It’s ‘fundamental,’ he said. Once truth is known, once accountability chairs discussion, we need to talk reparations. The good Mark Field will spare no pains to reinstate honor, dignity and civility to relations between Sri Lanka and the UK, I am sure. The ball, as they say, is in his court. 

Malinda Seneviratne is a political analyst and writer. malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com

04 October 2018

Notes for a Manifesto: National Security

Is it only about soldiers and military hardware? 

The word brings to mind guns and barricades, soldiers and war (in the immediate past, lived through or imminent). That’s natural in a land where several generations have had guns and bombs in-their-faces, literally and figuratively.  Natural also in a world that has become small courtesy of communication technology and therefore has war delivered to the palm, so to speak, or obtained with a swipe.

It is not surprising that ‘national security’ has mostly been associated with the protection of the state or rather the incumbent government, even though it is frequently tagged with ‘the people’ and ‘the nation’.  Is security about these things alone, though?  

The word comes from the Latin ‘Securus’ meaning ‘free from care’ and evolved through the Latin word ‘Securita’ and the Old French ‘Securite’ to ‘Secure’ in English and ‘Security’ in late Middle English, so the dictionaries tell us.  Essentially it refers to a state of being secure and free of worry. Now this is not just about protecting territory, national assets and citizens from armed ‘subversion’ from within or without. It is about obtaining and protecting a decent, worry-free, healthy, wholesome lifestyle for all citizens.

Like most key words in matters of the state, ‘security’ can and should be all-encompassing (like ‘environment’ or ‘economy’ for instance). It offers a window that opens us to all sectors: education, health, nutrition, environment, sustainability and basic freedoms even as it speaks to national boundaries and resources or the general safety of people and property.

There are questions that those who write manifestos and/or those who want power need to address: What is security? Are we secure? If we are not, how do we go about obtaining national security?

If we were to take a comprehensive view of things, as we should, then we would have to conclude that insecurity is sadly a constant; well, at least into the foreseeable future. There are imponderables (e.g. the price of oil, the maverick and destructive nature of US foreign policy and military ‘prerogatives,’ trade wars and a development model that pays lip service and nothing more to the health of the planet). Sri Lanka is a prisoner of agreements that contravene national interest but were signed under duress or out of ignorance or servility. We swallowed the development lie, compromised food security, sneered at technologies that were developed over centuries, placed trust on crooks, brigands, murderers, colonial slaves and such to run our affairs, and played a key part in the sustained development of impoverishment on all fronts.  

Through it all, we have collectively refused to recognize the greatest insecurity of them all: that which is resident in our minds and prevents us from recognizing resources and potentials while persuading us to allow others to imprint in our consciousness their versions of our realities.  

Security is not only about the ‘right now’ and certainly not about protecting the lifestyles and  positions of privilege of the few.  It is not about safeguarding systems made to rob, cheat, hoodwink, insult, humiliate and impoverish people.  

A war situation understandably pushes a lot of these issues to the back-burner, but even in such situations these cannot be forgotten. Perhaps the tragedy has been that even when ‘war’ was not a problem, these matters are not considered important. Twenty five years go, the then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Teresita C Schaffer ominously stated, ‘your (Sri Lanka’s) food security lies in the wheat fields of North America.’ Sure, if we had the bucks and if we had options should wheat prices go through the ceiling; what USAID, which was essentially writing the country’s agricultural policy at the time, advocated was to grow gherkin and baby corn instead of rice. 

Schaffer, tellingly, is described as ‘an expert on economic, political, security, and risk management trends’ in South Asia and now serves as a senior adviser to McLarty Associates, a Washington-based international strategic advisory firm. 

That’s the USA doing what’s in her interest. The tragedy is that we’ve been happy to just tag along, not just in the agriculture sector but the overall paradigm of development which is essentially a recipe for continued underdevelopment and maldevelopment. 

National security is about intelligence (yes, more than than military hardware). National security means nothing if food security is ignored or compromised. National security is nothing if there’s no security against climate change. National security is a failure if the dignity and self-respect of all citizens is not assured. National security is nothing if people have to second guess themselves before expressing opinions, nothing if people cannot live the lifestyles that give them meaning, nothing if laws and regulations can be bent by the powerful, nothing if institutions encourage wrongdoing and systems offer refuge to wrongdoers.    

National security, most importantly, is bound to be a grotesque proposition if there’s no discussion and agreement on what ‘nation’ really means.

Over to you, Messers Nagananda Kodituwakku, Rohan Pallewatte, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Maithripala Sirisena and any other individual entertaining hopes of becoming the next President of Sri Lanka.

Malinda Seneviratne is a political analyst and writer.  malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com

02 October 2018

අද ගුරුවරුගේ දිනයයි, හෙටත් එහෙමමයි

යුනෙස්කෝ ආයතනය ඔක්තෝබර් මස 4 වෙනිදා නම් කරලා තියෙන්නේ 'ජාත්‍යන්තර ගුරුවරුන්ගේ දිනය' කියලයි.  ඒ 1994 සිට. ඉස්කෝලේ යන කාලේ නම් හැමදාම ගුරුවරුන් ගේ දිනයක් හැටියටයි මට නම් මතක. ගුරුවරුන් රජකරන ලෝකයක්. ගුරුවරු නැති දවස්වල රජකෙරුවේ ළමයි, ඒත් එහෙම දවස් ආවේ කලාතුරකින්. ගුරුතුමා නිවාඩු දැම්මත් ඒ වෙනුවට වෙන ගුරුවරයෙක් පන්තියට ආවා. හැමදාම ගුරුවරුන්ගේ දවසක්. ගුරුවරුගේ දවස් අපේ දවස් නෙවෙයි. සතුටු වෙන්න පුළුවන් දවස් නෙවෙයි.  දුක් වුනා කියන්න බැරි වුනාට ඒ හැම දවසකම සතුටු වුනා කියන්නත් බැහැ. එහෙමයි මතක.  
ගුරුවරුන්ගේ දවස් වලින් නිදහස් වුන දවසකුත් ආවා.  ආපසු හැරිලා බලද්දී ඇත්තටම ගුරුවරුන්ගෙන් නිදහස් වුනාද කියල අපෙන්ම අහන්න වෙනවා. ඒ එක්කම ගුරුවරු අපෙන් නිදහස් වුනාද කියල අහන්නත් වෙනවා. 

දවසක් මළගෙදරකදී තුනේ පන්තියේ ගුරුවරියක් හමුවුනා. ඒ මිස් ගැන වැඩියෙන්ම මතක කළු ලෑල්ලේ ලස්සනට සිංහල අකුරු ලිව්ව කියලයි. 'සිංහල' භාෂාවට ආදරේ කරන්න පටන්ගත්තේ තුනේ පන්තියේ දී කියල පසුව තීරණය කළා.  ඉතින් මම මිස් එක්ක කතා කෙරුව. පුදුම හිතෙන ඒ වගේම දුක හිතෙන කතාවක් මිස් කිව්වා.

"අනේ පුතේ කතා කරපු එක ට බොහොම පින්.  සමහර ළමයි අපිව දැකල දැක්කේ නැ වගේ යනවා. එයාල හිතනවා ඇති අපට මතක නෑ කියල. ඒත් පුතේ අපි උගන්නපු ළමයි කොච්චර ලොකු වුනත් අපට අමතක වෙන්නේ නෑ."

ළමයි අමතක වුනත් සමහර ගුරුවරුන්ට ගුරු-ශිෂ්‍ය සම්බන්ධය අමතක වෙනවා. එහෙමත් නැත්තම් පන්ති කාමරයෙන් නිදහස් වුනාට පස්සේ, ගුරුවරුන්ගේ දින වලින් නිදහස් වුනාට පස්සේ තව දුරටත් 'ශිෂ්‍යයෙක්' ඉතුරු වෙන්නේ නැහැ කියල තේරුම් ගන්නවා වෙන්නත් පුළුවන්. 

තවත් මළගෙයක්. ගුරුවරයෙකුගේ. සහෝදර ගුරුවරුන් වගේම පරණ ශිෂ්‍යයොත් බොරැල්ල කනත්තට ආව. පුරුද්දට ගුරුවරුන්ට 'සර්' කියලයි කතා කෙරුවේ. පරණ කතා අලුත් වුනා. ගුරුවරුන්ගේ දිනයක් නොවුන නිසා වෙන්න ඇති, නැතිවුන සර් ගැන ඇතිවුන දුක මොහොතකට අමතක කරලා සතුටු වෙන්න පුළුවන් වුනා.  අවසන් කටයුතුත් අවසන් වුනා. කට්ටිය හෙමීට යන්න ගියා. අන්තිමට ඉතුරු වුනේ ගුරුවරු දෙතුන් දෙනෙක්.  

පරණ ගෝලයෙක් කනත්තේ ගේට්ටුව පැත්තට යනවා දැකල ගණන් උගන්නපු සර් දෙයක් කිව්වා. දුකෙන් කිව්වේ. සර් ට දුක හිතුන එක ගැන මට දුක හිතුන.  

'අනේ බලන්න, ඩොක්ටර් පයින්ම යනවා.'   

'ඩොක්ටර්?' මට පුදුම හිතුන. ඒ ඩොක්ටර්ට වගේම මටත් ඒ ගුරුවරයා ඉස්කෝලේ හිටපු කාලේ වගේම එදත් 'සර්'. ගණන් සර්.   

සර්ලා ළමයින්ව අතහරිනවා, ඒත් හැමෝම සර්ලව මිස්ලව අතහරින්නේ නෑ. අතහැරිය කියල හිතුනත් හිතාගත්තත් අතහැරෙන්නේ නෑ.

මීට වසර 31කට පෙර පිට්ස්බර්ග් විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයේ ආචාර්ය උපාධිය හදාරමින් හිටපු අර්ජුන පරාක්‍රම ගුරුවරු ගැන වැදගත් දෙයක් කිව්වා තාම මතකයි.  ශාස්ත්‍රවේදී උපාධිය ට ලියු නිබන්ධනය අර්ජුන මට පෙන්නුවා. පිදුම මෙයයි: 'ෆෝ මයි ටීචර්ස් ('මාගේ ගුරුවරුන්ට').  ඒ ගැන මම ඇහුව.

'අපි හිතාගෙන ඉන්නේ අපේ තනි මහන්සියෙන් දේවල් ඉගෙන ගන්නවා කියල. තනි මහන්සියෙන් දේවල් ජයග්‍රහණය කරනවා කියල. ඒත් ඇත්ත ඒක නෙවෙයි.  ගුරුවරුන් අපිට කියල දුන්න දේවල් අපි තුල ඉතුරු වෙනවා.  එයාල අපේ කොටසක්.'

ගුරුවරුගේ දින පහු වෙන්නේ නෑ. හැම දිනයම අපට 'අපේ' දිනයක් නම්, හැම දිනයම අපට ගුරුවරුන්ගේ දිනයක්.  එයාලා අපට ජීවිතිය දුන්නට, අපව ජීවත් කෙරෙව්වට, අප තුලම ජීවත් වුනාට, අපට ගුරුවරු නිතර මතක් වෙන්නේ නෑ. ඒ ගැනත් ටිකක් හිතන්න ඕන. 

"මගේ ඇස අග" තීරුවේ තවත් ලිපි

ෂෝට් ඇන්ඩ් ස්වීට් අහිංසකත්වය

ගම සුජීලගේ, ගම හදන්නෙත් සුජීලා හොඳේ?
ලාස්ට් මෑන් හැව් චාන්ස්
සඳට නොලියූ කවියක් 
අහඹු පොතක අහඹු පිටුවක හමුවිය කවියක් අහඹුම නොවන'

01 October 2018

කුදුබව සහ කුදුකම නොහොත් සාකෝසිකරණය

යුරෝපයේ පිරිමින්ගේ සාමාන්‍ය උස අඩි පහයි අඟල් දහයයි.  ප්‍රංශයේ හිටපු ජනාධිපති නිකොලා සාකෝසි ගේ උස අඩි පහයි අඟල් පහයි.  උස ප්‍රශ්නයක් කරගත් සාකෝසි අපූරු උපක්‍රමයක් පාවිච්චි කල බව වාර්තා වේ. තමන්ට වඩා උසින් අඩු පුද්ගලයින් කිහිප දෙනක් නිතරම තමන් අවට තබාගත් සාකෝසි ට මේ ප්‍රශ්නය විසඳගන්න පුළුවන් වුනා, මන්ද එවිට සාකෝසි මිටි බව පෙනුනේ නැති නිසා.  

ඒ පුවත කියවද්දී ඩලස් අලහප්පෙරුම 2001 වසරේ කියූ දෙයක් මතක් වුනා. 2001 මහා මැතිවරණයට තරඟ නොකරන්න තීරණය කල ඩලස් මාදිවෙල ඔහුට හිමි නිල නිවසෙන් නික්ම යන්නට සුදානම් වෙමින් සිටිය මොහොතක ඔහු හමුවුයේ 'දි අයිලන්ඩ්' පුවත්පතට ඒ පිලිබඳ ඔහුගේ අදහස් දැනගෙන ලිපියක් සකස් කර ගැනීමටයි.  ඩලස් මෙහෙම දෙයක් පැවසුවා:

'මාලින්ද, අපි සුදු වැඩියි මේ දේශපාලනයේ යෙදෙන්න.  මෙතැන් ඉන්නේ දුඹුරු මිනිස්සු.  එයාල කැමතිත් දුඹුරු අයට. සුදු කෙනෙක් ආව ගමන් එයාලා දුඹුරු බව පෙනෙන්න පටන් ගන්නවා.'  

ඩලස් පසුව මේ සුදු-දුඹුරු න්‍යාය බැහැර කලත්, ඩලස් ගේ කතාවේ ලොකු අත්තක් තියෙනවා.  ඒ කාරණය දේශපාලනයට සීමා වුන එකකුත් නෙවෙයි.  

පහසු සහ වාසිදායක දේ දුඹුරු වීම නම්, දුඹුරු වෙනවා. 'මම නම් එහෙම නෑ, මම වෙනස්' කියල ඒත්තුගන්නන්න අවශ්‍ය නම්, සුදු පාට තවරා ගන්නවා.  'ඇඩ්' කියල කියන්නේ එහෙම දේවල් වලට.  අඩු වහගන්න අවශ්‍යනම් එම අඩුම තියෙන අය ආශ්‍රය කරනවා.     

මෙය හරිම සරල ක්‍රමවේදයක්. තමන් අදක්ෂ නම් තමන්ට වඩා අදක්ෂ අය තමන් අවට තියාගන්නවා.  තමන් හොරෙක් නම් තමන්ට වඩා හොරකම් කරන අය ළඟ තබාගන්නවා. තමන් විකටක් නම් තමන්ට වඩා විහිළුසහගත අයගෙන් පිරිවර හදා ගන්නවා.  තමන් මෝඩ නම්, ඊටත් වඩා මෝඩයින් තමන්ගේ උපදේශකයින් ලෙස පත්කරගන්නවා.  

වෙන විදිහකට කියනවා නම් මේ හැමදේකින්ම කරන්නේ හාල්කෑලි මෝරු බවට පත්කරන එක.  මෝරු හැංගිලා ඉන්න තාක් කල් මේ ක්‍රමය සාර්ථක වෙනවා. මෝරා හැංගිලා ඉන්නකොට 'මෝරු නෑ' කියල හිතන්නත් පුළුවන්, හාල් කෑලි මෝරු හැටියට අන්දන්නත් පුළුවන්.  මෝරු කියල විකුණන්නත් පුළුවන්.  ඒ වුනාට හාල් කෑල්ලකට මෝරෙක් වෙන්න බෑ. 'හාල්කෑලිකම්' කවද හරි මතුවෙනවා.  

පෞරුෂ ගැන සිතමු.  වෙම්බ්ලි ක්‍රීඩාංගනය පෞරුෂයෙන්ම පුරවන්න පුළුවන් තරම්  දැවැන්ත පෞරුෂ සමහර අයට තියෙනවා.  තව අය ඉන්නවා කොළඹ විශ්ව විද්‍යාලය ළඟ විකුණන කූඩාරමකට රිංගුවොත් කූඩාරම වෙම්බ්ලි ක්‍රීඩාංගනය තරම් විශාලයි වගේ පෙනෙනවා. පෞරුෂයන් ඒ තරම්ම කුදුයි. ලස්සන ඇඳුමක් ඇඳගෙන, තමන්ට වඩා පෞරුෂයෙන් කුඩු වූ පිරිසක් පිරිවරාගෙන පපුව ඉස්සරහට් දමාගෙන උජාරුවට ඇවිද්දත් අර 'මෝර ගතිය' ආරෝපණය වෙන්නේ නෑ. ආරෝපණය කරගත්තත් ලස්සන ඇඳුම, උජාරුව, පිරිවර කපාගෙන 'හාල්කෑලිකම්' ඉස්මතු වෙනවා.  

සාකෝසි ට කරන්න තිබුන පහසුම දේ  සාකෝසි වීමමයි. කකුලේ තරමටයි සපත්තුව තෝරගන්න ඕන.  තරමට නොගැලපෙන සපත්තු දාගෙන ඇවිදින්න අමාරුයි.  පැටලෙනවා. වැටෙනවා.  ඊට වඩා හොඳයි සපත්තු නැතුව ඇවිදින එක.  

ඒ කෙසේ වෙතත් සාකෝසිලා මැතිවරණ ජයග්‍රහණය කරන බවත් කිව යුතුයි.  එහෙම වෙන්නේ ඇයි කියන එක ගැනත් කල්පනා කරන්න අවශ්‍යයි.  අවංකකම, දැනුම, හැකියාව, මනුස්සකම වගේ දේවල් ගත්තහම සාමාන්‍ය ජනතාවට වඩා කුදු අය යෝධයින් වෙන්නේ කොහොමද? මවා ගන්න යෝධකම් වලට ඡන්දදායකයින් ගොදුරු වෙන්නේ ඇයි? මේවා ගැනත් හිතන්න ඕන.

එහෙම වෙන්න එක හේතුවක් තමයි අපේ තරම ගැන අපටත් නිසි අවබෝධයක් නැති කම.  යෝධකම් කෙසේ වෙතත් කුදුකම් ආරෝපණය කර ගන්න කැමැත්තක් තියෙනවා කියලයි මට හිතෙන්නේ.ඇතී දේ ඇතී සැටියෙන් දකින්න බැරි කමක් නැත්තම් දකින්න අකමැති කමක් තියෙනවා. දෑස් ඇරගෙන ඉන්න අවශ්‍යම අවස්තාවලදී අහක බලාගන්නවා නැත්තම් ඇස් වහගන්නවා. හාල්කෑලි-මෝරු සෙල්ලමට වශී වෙනවා.  මේ තත්ත්වය මොන තරම් දරුණුද කියනවා නම් සාකෝසි-ක්‍රමවේදය හරියට ඉල්ලුමට-සැපයුමක් ද කියලත් හිතෙනවා.      

වෙනත් විදිහකට කියනවා නම් 'සුදු-දුඹුරු' ප්‍රශ්ණයකින් ජනතාවත් (නැත්තම් පාරිභෝගිකයාත්) පෙළෙනවා.  

නන්දා මාලිනි ගේ 'කුමක්ද මරණය' ගීතය මතක් වෙනවා.  පෙරදිග මුතු ඇටයේ ඇට කටු මත සත්‍යයේ නාමයෙන් ඇස් ඉස් මස් ලේ පුදන්න අවශ්‍යයි කියල මම හිතන්නේ නෑ. ඒත් කිරි පැණි පාගල තැඹිලි වතුර නාලා පච්චවඩම් තිර හතක් මැදින් ඇදුරන් වැඩලා අපගැන අඬලා සැප දුක් ඇසු කල අප හැම සාකෝසිලා කියලත් හිතෙනවා.  

"මගේ ඇස අග" තීරුවේ තවත් ලිපි

හිරවෙන හිරකරන වචන ගැන

ෂෝට් ඇන්ඩ් ස්වීට් අහිංසකත්වය

ගම සුජීලගේ, ගම හදන්නෙත් සුජීලා හොඳේ?
ලාස්ට් මෑන් හැව් චාන්ස්
සඳට නොලියූ කවියක් 
අහඹු පොතක අහඹු පිටුවක හමුවිය කවියක් අහඹුම නොවන'