System vs. Individuals

This post is a comment on the following blog post by Shahani Markus Weerawarna

The commenter agrees with the contents on the original post above and expands on it.

The recent military victory over brutal terrorism is a very important landmark for us. However, as expected, not so surprisingly; the victory was over-politicalized. We as a nation chose to “bask in the glory” and refused to reflect on ourselves and understand the causes that lead to the LTTE. We are not doing much to improve the system so that such a disaster will never befall upon us again.

As Shahani very correctly pointed out, all those politicians are human beings with inherent flaws (we all are). Any single one of us is not capable of understanding and addressing all of the problems that we have. Good leaders should be not doers but facilitators. The system should be resilient enough for leaders with personal flaws (we will never find ones without) to lead. Unfortunately there is very little dialog in SL wrt improving the “System”. The political discourse should encourage poking at the “system” and not at the flaws of “individuals’. We spent so much of time and energy on finding faults with individuals.

Culturally, we have tremendous bias (almost genetic) to think that “System” is perfect and all we need is to “preserve” and not “improve”. We think we just need to choose correct “Personalities” to run the system. Any issues we face are viewed as faults of people, rather than the system. In my opinion what important for us as a nation is to understand that we need to keep improving the system.

Unfortunately the politicalized media is harping on “former glory” and insists on “going back in time” rather than moving forward. This is a disastrous mindset we are creating for ourselves.

The starting point of the new wisdom should be the realization we are not governed by a monarch anymore. We should stop living in the past and look forward for positive changes fitting to the new governance model of parliamentary democracy. Even after living more than half a century in a parliamentary democracy with universal suffrage, most of our self-proclaimed moral leaders and self-styled guardians of the heritage seem to think that we are still ruled by a king and are fond of dolling out governance advices fitting only to a medieval kingdom. One of the key issues that I see in Sri Lankan institutions (religious and educational) is that the traditions around those institutions are still aligned with a non-existent feudal system or colonial rule. The head of state is still assumed to be a “King” by the people (especially clergy) who were trained within these institutions. The advices of the clergy to the lay followers are mostly based on a 13th centenary value system designed to keep the peasantry in their place. We often hear clergy and other conservative scholars bringing examples from the time of ancient kings to draw parallels between contemporary situations. Their basic assumption is that something ‘good’ from that era is unquestionably good and fitting in current times as well. This is very wrong! The value systems changed drastically. The value system the majority of Sri Lankans subscribe today is very different from value systems prevailed at the times of Devanampiyatissa or Dutugemunu or Prarakramabahu.