Category Archives: respect

A disgrace to something sacred

I don’t admit to being a hugely “Lankanized” Sri Lankan. I openly admit that I’m alright with living absolutely anywhere, but since I was born here and my friends and family are here, I will still feel tied down to the country one way or another. My tie was apparently greater than I’d anticipated. So, with the use of a picture that I’d already used before, here is an opinion from me, something that’s extremely rare in these parts. Yet the blogosphere needs to know this.

We all have ways of showing off our “Lankanness”, what with all the tea we drink, the rice we cook in milk and eat with spicy red-hot onions and the constant games of cricket we all jump up and down to. Plus the memories of the last three decades of war against an elite terrorist organization. All of those are the markers of the stereotypical Sri Lankan, aren’t they? Well I’m not a great connoisseur of tea, milk rice makes me sick to my stomach and I’m dead clueless about cricket. Yet I am alive and well, having lived through a monster tsunami plus said war against terrorism. So maybe my way of showing my “Lankanness” is just plain different.
If anything though, it’s not waving a little flag in my hand and howling like a lunatic.
The reason for this post was something or the other my mother told me a few days ago. Or at least, told herself, she’s extremely old-fashioned when it comes to matters of respect and whatnot. Her complaint was one, a marathon in the middle of the road and two, a statement regarding rules about disgracing the flag and showing some respect to it. The marathon was being run by the common young men and boys you see lounging around on a common Sri Lankan suburban or rural road: Tall to medium-size, talking loudly, maybe sharing a smoke.

Their peers in this situation though, were doing that common Lankan hooligan trademark call: Th hoot. All the time while swinging about small copies of the national flag.

Now, a country’s national flag is always flown at full size, at ceremonies or major events that actually commemorate something important that happened in our nation or to our nation. And a road race in the middle of the day is definitely not something worthwhile. In fact it’s not even close.
But here comes the double-edged sword.
These kids probably were doing their best to show off their “Lankanness” to the world. Maybe this was the only practical way they could think of at the moment. Of course we know all about the modern youth. This species is not crazy. Speaking in evolutionary terms the teen is a creative, knowledgeable, inquisitive and powerful breed of human who would gladly challenge those geezers who call themselves “superiors” and “elders” with great wisdom.
Then comes the other edge of the sword. These old coots had lived through a time that these bucks and blades could hardly imagine.
I couldn’t live in a world with no Internet!
And all that Generation X and before had to keep itself from going mad during those long nights, was to pray and read. They prayed for the good of others, and they prayed for the country most importantly. Why they call it the “good old days” and gripe so much is still beyond me-I hate them for doing that but at this time the sword seems to be swinging in quite a…well, strange direction.

I didn’t think about it much until a later musing on the topic.

The national flag is a symbol of Sri Lanka and the literally leonine might of the Sri Lankan peoples as a whole. It is thus a glimpse of what we are and it’s there in the database for the whole world to see. It isn’t party decor, it isn’t something to be waved from a motorcycle by young lunatics. So at the end of what would have ordinarily been a productive day for me, was a display of selfishness and disregard for others’ feelings-especially those of motorists in a hurry to get home or go to wherever they had planned on going.

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Respect is the word

Appeared in Free magazine, Nation newspaper on April 20
We live in a day and age where respect for others, their beliefs and even for one’s self is no more. Perhaps this is one of the major reasons for the decline of our society. 
Do you have an atheist friend or friend who believes in another religion other than yours? Have you ever tried to convince her or him otherwise? What about a friend with a different sexual orientation? What have you felt and have you made any rude remarks? While personally we may feel differently and have opposing views the key for co-existence is respect. We need to respect what they believe in as they respect ours. Humans can never agree on everything but we must heed what the other has got to say and find common ground.
Today people can be shockingly rude. It is not uncommon to hear racist and derogatory remarks in public aimed directly at people who are within earshot. And usually in most cases they are totally uncalled for. People are not tolerant of other religions or another’s traditions which can be seen in a recent spate of incidents in our country and around the world which is upsetting. And if we thought the caste system is no more, then we are mistaken as still many who consider they belong to communities of the upper class do not enter in to marriage with those from lower castes. Superstitions and misconceptions about gypsies exist even today.
Pic by Sakuna Gamage
Is it really difficult to give up a seat in a bus to a member of clergy of another religion other than yours and give them the due respect? Or hand a coin to a beggar who is clearly from another religion? Or to have some reverence at a temple, a church, a kovil or a mosque?  Shockingly, people do not even respect the dead anymore; with news of grave robbing  being commonplace now in society.
Sadly, even respect for the institution of marriage is somewhat lost. Wives and Husbands do not respect each other enough to be faithful to their bond. Children do not respect their parents or teachers anymore. People do not even respect themselves and stoop low for various reasons by accepting or giving bribes, stealing and lying.
The world doesn’t have to be a dreary place as I have made it sound like. All one needs to do is have some respect. 
‘Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners’
I can’t agree more with this quote. Respect one another, as we the youth need to ensure wars will not be fought in this beautiful country and racism will not have a place in our society. Be faithful to your partner, and protect the institution called marriage, it is not a whim or fancy you can discard as you please. Respect our parents and teachers as they are our guides in life, they have shaped us in to who we have become today. We owe everything we know to them. Do not steal from others, respect the fact they have worked hard to earn everything they own.
Despite whatever we think there is absolutely no difference between us. So mostly respect one another as humans because beyond all the races, religions, castes, creeds, skin colors and various other differences, we are all the same.