We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow; Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so – Alexander Pope-An Essay on Criticism
This column dedicated to the notion of making Sri Lanka the Wonder of Asia turns its spotlight today on the presently prevailing youth unrest in Sri Lanka as the Sri
Lankan society would aspire to be free of such unrest.
It was reported in the media recently that President Rajapakse had stated that the parents should not reduce their care for their teenage children but should look after them in the same manner as they cared for them in their formative childhood years. This comment by the President referred to the unrest prevailing in out universities at the present time. As Alexander Pope said and quoted at the outset of this column the younger generation tends to look down upon the elders as they categorize the older generation as people whose knowledge is far inferior when compared to the advanced knowledge gained by the younger generation at the present time. This trend is bound to continue in generation to come as Alexander Pope has said. The question then is will the younger generation heed the advice given by their elders in such matters as those that have sprung up in the university system giving rise to youth unrest at the present time.
The youth look up to those persons who have risen to be leaders among themselves. They follow the agendas laid down by these leaders who have hidden political agendas of their own. When teenagers enter the portals of a university for their higher studies they are invariably subjected to the process of ragging. This is the first step in subjugating the new entrants to the will of the senior students who instill fear in them. This fear psychosis is sufficient to make the new entrants toe the line their seniors have chosen for them.
The leadership training program in military establishments was set up by the Government to break this fear psychosis as the new entrants meet and become part of a group of associates prior to their entry to the university campuses, which will enable them to resist ragging as a group. This also has a more serious aspect as these students if they are attracted to act in consort could form para-military groups against the State as they have already had exposure to military discipline and training.
Fear of marginalisation
The left wing organizations in our country have deep roots in the university student population. As a majority of the students come from poor rural families they tend to have as attitude of animosity towards the rich and affluent people in this country, whom they consider to be the capitalist class as defined in Marxist theories. They fear that if private universities are permitted to be established in Sri Lanka, this would enable the children of the rich to become graduates in various disciplines and obtain lucrative employment and high positions in society, while they would become marginalized. Hence they protest against the establishment of such universities. The decision of the President to withdraw the Private Universities Bill has helped to alleviate these fears at least for the time being.
The mindset of the majority of the university student population is inclined towards left wing political parties, hence making them easy prey to be utilized in mass uprisings or an organized revolt against the State as which happened during the J.V.P insurrection in the past, where a large number of youth met with a miserable fate including torture, imprisonment and death. The parents should be able to guide their children by explaining to them what happened during the insurrection, as the students entering universities today were not living at that time. The government should give much publicity to the events of that miserable past for the present day students to realize that an armed insurrection would not gain momentum or acceptance by the people of our country. It is with non violent peaceful consultation, compromise and consensus that any justifiable dispute could be resolved. The example of Mahatma Gandhi of India, should be taught to the student population when that great son of India liberated his motherland from the British by a process of non-violent negotiations and peaceful demonstrations against the injustice meted out to the Indian people during British rule.
Violence the hallmark of fools
Youth unrest if permitted to grow would undoubtedly hamper the progress of our country towards political stability and economic prosperity. Sri Lankans should unite to prevent disgruntled political elements from propelling our children to the point of no return in misery, torture, imprisonment and death. Students enter universities after spending the hard earned monies of their parents to obtain a higher education in order to achieve future well being and prosperity in their lives. They may have their own political ideologies and views but they should never resort to violence to achieve their goals, as violence is the hallmark of fools and finally results in misery and disaster. All great religions teach the virtues of non violence. Parents should guide their children in the proper path in order to ensure the well being and happiness of their children, whom they love dearly.
As usual let me conclude in lighter vein with an amusing anecdote. A little girl came home from school and said: ‘Mummy today in school I was punished for something I didn’t do.”
“That’s terrible! I am going to speak to your teacher about it. Now what was it that you didn’t do?”
“My homework” said the little darling.
– The writer is an Attorney at Law
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