Sunday, August 11, 2013


Sunday Morning Sermon - Aug 11 2013

A body comes into existence.  If nurtured well, this body grows and matures into a healthy being.  Along the way however, steps have to be taken to ensure the continuous growth and development of this body, in a manner that will produce very little setbacks for a healthy and productive life.  These necessary steps are what I call "maintenance".

The same philosophy could very easily apply to all around us.  Not just to humans, but to the vast infrastructure around us.

In the post independence ‘50’s and ‘60’s the possibilities of taking our motherland, Sri Lanka, into an economical and social miracle was fully available. We had every opportunity, skill, resource, and even support from our Colonial master, Britain, to step ahead. However, petty politics, based on power struggle and selfish needs has made this a difficult target to achieve. Still, development of the infrastructure in this country has moved, even at snails pace, towards what it is now.  Billions of rupees have been spent to forge, build, and implement projects for the enrichment of the people and the infrastructure is reasonably on its way forward as we see it on the ground today, even if the socio-political climate has suffered tremendously, through hatred, wars, and mistrust between peoples.  

Communities have sprouted practically overnight in places where there was only bare land before.  Smaller towns have quickly developed and transformed into large metropolitan cities.

Hardly a day went by when one did not hear of or witness a new scheme or development beginning to take roots.  Foreign aid and development projects have also contributed effectively to this cause. People, both locally and from outside, have contributed in their own way and with their own expertise to the challenges faced with this mammoth task.  The maturity of society has still been slow in keeping pace with the expected development.

Today, t
e situation on the ground is received with mixed feelings. While infrastructure has improved the mindset of the people has deteriorated. Ethnic conflict is strife with the majority community taking and "Us and Them" attitude towards the minorities who have also made valuable contributions to the progress for over many centuries. Many have left the shores in search of greener pastures, peace, safety, and comfort.

After all this time, the ravages are beginning to show through the 
​glass ​
ceiling and we are on our way to simply becoming chronicled monuments of a recent era.

This does not have to be the case.  The key element missing here is maintenance, something we tend to ignore in just about every facet of our lives.  We tend to neglect our bodies, and on a larger scale, tend to neglect everything around us.  After all, why bother with something that works just fine for now?

This illusion is fine so long as things work well.  But the moment that something falls apart, we are taken off guard by the unexpected.  The evidence of such a demeanor is all around us.

Take to the roads today and tell me how you feel.  Are they being properly maintained?  Is the electricity service to your home steady and reliable?  Is the water supply piped in constant or intermittent? Walk into a modern and state of the art building or structure built in the last decade or so, only to notice the beginning stages of neglect and decay.  Or try using a service, which although recently introduced has fallen to hard 
Look at your neighbor. Is he Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher? How do you feel about him living next to you home?
 Does it bother you in any way? if so, why?
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Our philosophy and indifference towards maintenance is a major factor towards this decline.  An individual buys an expensive automobile, yet may search for the cheapest of labor to operate it.  The same attitude could apply to those investing in factories or industries.  Just about any responsible individual or party is more concerned with the initial investment in a project than the continuing expenses of maintaining his investment.

Is it indifference or ignorance? I sometimes wonder. Does not the analogy to a human body apply to just about everything we build or create?  Admittedly, maintenance comes with a price.  But the cost of neglecting this necessary function is far greater than imagined.

It is easy to complain and criticize, but how could one go about addressing this issue.  Well, we hear a lot about the high cost of living among the people.  Why not put our minds to get around them to drop the ethnic issues and concentrate on the needs for maintenance of the nation? Sooner or later, many professionals and skilled workers may leave, and with them so will a huge pool of talent.  Utilize that expertise now while they are here and develop a maintenance team of people, dedicated to the proper preservation of all things around us.

It takes more to build a community. It takes planning ahead, creative ingenuity and diligence to maintain it at a level acceptable to all.  And yet that is a challenge which many of our public service agencies have yet to fathom.

When are we ever going to learn?


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