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Tuesday, 10 July 2012

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World Population Day tomorrow:

A humanly centred population

World Population Day falls tomorrow, July 11, 2012. Despite the heavy toll on the human intellect by external forces interestingly some space still exists for intellectual activity. Associate Professor in Political Science and Humanities of Carleton University, Canada, Iranian Farhang Rajee reflecting on man's dissatisfaction with his environs down the ages, makes us understand how every step of the way, man and the populations he belonged to yearned for improvement. How it all went off the rails was interesting. Here he calls for knowledge on the landmarks of human history.

The great knowledge expansion of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries plunged man and population in to much vibrancy. However what followed the euphoria of such advancement outweighed population and man's achievements, invariably a follow up of mind distortion as man began to think in terms of ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’, devoid of family, community and country which consists populations. That remarkable period referred to by social scientists as modernity - significantly a milestone in mankind's intellectual evolution - was later denied the privilege of its purposeful entry challenging even his noble state. If modernity was positive the modernism that followed undermined the former even robbing it of its well intended goals.

Political process

In a healthy democracy prevailing in any population we should be constantly reminding our leaders of our expectation of high standards, in truth telling as elsewhere. We are all a mixture of good and evil. We should be encouraging and enhancing the good in a humanly centred population. Such idealism is rarely expressed when Sri Lankans discuss politics. More commonly it is assumed that the game is inherently dirty, that the political process has long since institutionalised its own dishonesty.

The rights of the people have never been respected throughout humanity's brief known history so full of wars of conquest empires and an infinite variety of forms of plunder and of ways for human beings.

Nevertheless at that historic point in time and despite the reality that the victorious powers imposed a world political order with privileges for a minuscule group of the most powerful states that became ever more irritating many nations, institutions and people were hopeful that a new and promising stage for humanity of populations was beginning.

The big difference between the age of the Greeks and our age lies not in the intellectual capacity of the human species which should be a humanly centred population but in the exponent and seemingly infinite development of science and technology that has taken place in the last 150 years.

It completely eclipses the negligible and ridiculous political capacity we have shown for facing up to the risk of perishing as a species, a risk which really is threatening all populations. The lives of the billions consisting populations who inhabit this planet depend on what a few think, believe and decide. The worst of it all is that those who wield such great power do not have psychiatrists to look after them.

Civilized society

We cannot just accept this. We have the right to denounce it, to exercise pressure and demand changes and an end to such an absurd unheard of situation which makes hostages of us all. No one should ever have such powers or else no one on this earth will be able to talk of civilisation again. To many older Sri Lankan citizens trust seems to be the ingredient missing from public life which removes the human quality of any population.

Respect for authority was once regarded as the cornerstone of a civilized society, so what do we make of any situation? Some people will tell us that democracy actually depends on telling lies, that lies are part of the game we are playing when we pretend that our elected leaders have become by their election, instantly and miraculously superior to the rest of us in insight, courage and wisdom.

Others can say that throughout history lies have been the mechanism by which the ruling classes of every populations have maintained their authority concealing their mistakes from the lower orders and using ritual and pageantry to symbolize and institutionalise their power.

Once we have travelled down that path for awhile politics become easy. Even those who are resisting the tide of relativism may not be much better off. With trust in the political process being eroded with every bent principle every broken promise and every policy back flip, the level of cynicism has reached breaking point for many Sri Lankans. Their response is of course to seek relief partly because they find the whole political scene too depressing to focus on and partly because they know they can be damaged by the corrosive effect of their own cynicism.

The frame of reference of the population based civil society, based on Sri Lankan identity is no longer valid. In this scenario the populations cannot be rescued by Police Commissions or Election Committees.Those who claim to stand for strengthening the civil society populations often forget the necessity of resolving the national problem as a precondition for the very existence of a population.

Peace and national amity

It is true that we should campaign for Police Commissions, Election Commissions etc. to strengthen the civil society. Also all agitations for better civil behaviour, better attitude to the disabled and the old, feminism, environmental consciousness etc. are valid and should be supported to form a humanly centred population.

If these struggles are not connected to the struggle for peace and national amity they become meaningless. For a humanly centred population, relief is increasingly taking the form of disengagement from the process retreating from a national agenda that seems too hard to master, and turning the focus inwards.

‘Who cares?’ captures the mood of people who might not yet have revised their view of truth but who have decided that for the time being it makes more sense to worry about themselves and their own concerns and leave the politicians to talk among themselves.

Yet society and civil populations would collapse under the strain of merciless deception. Social harmony depends on our tolerating each others little deceptions sometimes in the name of politeness and sometimes out of consideration for other people's feelings. Our culture of deception is well established. A concealing culture is a hypocritical culture. By concealing things like child abuse, domestic violence, corporate malpractice we have done terrible damage to society as a whole and to the individuals who are in it.

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