Degrading a noble profession
Teaching has been hailed as a
noble profession whose practitioners down the ages have been
held in awe and reverence. Still in the villages the home of the
gurunnanse is a pivotal centre where people gather for advice
and counsel. The respect and reverence shown to teachers have
been part of our culture.
It is in this context that one should view the decision taken
by our teachers to stage a sick note campaign demanding a raise
in their salaries thus divesting them of the slough of respect
and adulation of the ordinary folk.
Nay, they have placed themselves on par with the ordinary,
raucous trade union fraternity who resort to sabotage and
threats to win their demands.
True teachers have their grievances. We believe the
Government should drew up a comprehensive plan to reward and
recognise the ordeal and sacrifice made by our teaching
fraternity to produce good and productive citizens to the
But the stand taken by teachers to go on strike to win their
demand is a course of action which could have been deemed
sacrilegious in the not too distant past. How would their action
impact on the impressional minds which they are tasked to guide
to be exemplary citizens ?
Therefore the best course of action would be to sort out
their problems through the usual channels of negotiations. It
would a paradox for the entire teaching fraternity to be seen as
yet another bunch of trade union activists who would stop at
nothing to win their demands.
It behoves on our teachers to present themselves as shining
examples of discipline and morality that would shape the minds
of our future generations. They can make a difference in
society. As a British advertising campaign put it sometime back,
'Those who can, Teach'.
A worthy example
Amidst the rising rate of
alcoholism and drug abuse which is threatening to tear apart the
moral fabric of Lankan society even a small effort to arrest
this dangerous trend should be welcomed and appreciated.
A story in our inside pages yesterday focused on one such
effort by a voluntary organisation which had succeeded in
weaning away a large number of persons from the drug habit.
Guided by the Chief incumbent of the Gomadiyagala temple this
organisation had been active in several villages in Polpithigama.
It has succeed in reforming drug addicts in 230 families in
the village of Gomadiyagala alone. This shows the extent to
which drug addition has taken hold in far flung villages.
The Gomadiyagala Thisarana Sandeshiya is assisted in their
mission by the Civil Defence Committee and the Dhamma school
children in the area. More such initiatives are needed if we are
to make even a slight dent in the drug problem that is assuming
serious proportions in the country.
The success in this mission shows the influence religious
leaders could wield in fighting evil in society. Time was when
the village temple functioned as an oracle and with villagers
following instructions emanating therein with unquestioning
The temperance movement which was spearheaded by the Bhikkus
made a lasting impact that helped wean many an imbiber from
liquor addiction. This was also a time when the country was
awash with spirituality and a Buddhist revival where the large
majority lived by the precepts of the Enlightened One.
But with mammon taking precedence in today's rat race for
existence the voice of religions leaders have been drowned in
the cacophony of the market place allowing evil to thrive. It is
therefore encouraging to see signs of a revisit to the past
where the Temple formed the fountain of advice and counselling
and wielded immense influence on the lives of the people.
The Government too should grasp at this opportunity to
harness this influence of the village temple to arrest the moral
decline we see around us today, especially at a time the
President is earnestly pursing the Mathata Thitha campaign to
fight the drug menace and alcoholism.
One only hopes that this example of the Ven. Thera would be
emulated by other members of the Sangha and clergy of other
religions elsewhere in the country.
This is also an ideal opportunity to reawaken the
spirituality among the people that had been consumed by
unbridled commercialism and other attractions. A cure attained
through the medium of spirituality is known to have a permanent
effect than one through medical therapy.
In this respect there are also drug rehabilitation centres
run by Christian clergy within their parishes where fruitful
work is being done. Such projects too should receive the support
and assistance of the Government. What ultimately matters is
eradicating the drug menace from our society and the return of
the addicts to a normal, productive life.