Gerard D. Muttukumaru (Sunday Leader)
This is the most crucial question facing this country today. People come from all over the world, especially Sri Lankan expatriates, to party in Sri Lanka, where almost anything goes. I had an acquaintance who told me that Singaporeans, because of the rigidity and discipline in Singapore, come to Sri Lanka and its resorts to really party!! Sri Lankans are also Baila Kings!
But what kind of people are we? I address this question to all government, business, religious and education leaders…. and yes to every parent.
“Do unto others what you would have them do unto you”. This is at the core of the teachings of the Buddha, Jesus, The Koran and the Hindu Scriptures. I am not talking about Miracle Services, Prayer and Fellowship Meetings, Bible, Buddhist, Hindu and Moslem Scripture studies. I am talking about what kind of people or human beings we are. What kind of human beings are our schools, universities, professional bodies and religious leaders producing? What is the moral law that governs the behavior of every one of us in our classrooms, boardrooms, workplaces and places of worship.Are we teaching the one command of our maker ‘Do unto others what you want done unto you’ and ‘Love one another?’
The only test that matters in leadership is leadership by example. What example are the leaders in our companies, public institutions, parliament, schools, universities, homes and religious institutions setting?
The Human Resources Manager in one of our most admired companies sent me a message on Friday: “I will talk to you on Monday”. She never did. There are so many like her in ordinary positions and in positions of leadership for whom I have only one message: Do unto others what you want done unto you. Keeping your word defines who you are as a person. Always keep a promise. This is the essence of business and corporate governance.
Return every phone call. Reply to every e-mail or text message. This is what you want done to you. Do we only respond to people we want to respond to? Do we only love or like people who love or like us in return? “If you only love those who love you, what good is it?” the greatest teacher told us 2000 years ago. Don’t avoid people. Your maker will avoid you! Do you want to be avoided? Don’t judge a person based on innuendo and rumor. Give every person a hearing. It is the right thing to do. It is what you want done to you. What you sow you WILL reap in this life or in the afterlife! No one escapes.
The great German Philosopher Emmanuel Kant observed: “Two things strike me with awe; the starry heavens above and the moral law within”. No one escapes the moral law. No one takes their millions or billions with them when they leave this earth. If every one of us can think of one human being we have hurt or harmed, we must ask for forgiveness from this person and be reconciled. Only then will God forgive us. He will not forgive us if we have not humbled ourselves and asked for forgiveness from one another.
We must do the right thing and do unto others what we want done to us.
Every one of us wants to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, whatever we believe this Kingdom is. We all want to go to a better place when we leave this earth. But we do not do unto others what we want done to us. ‘Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he/she who does the will of my Father in Heaven,” the same teacher told us. What is this will? It is “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God”. Miracle, Bible and religious services are not going to save us. It is what we are as human beings. It is when we do unto others what we want done to us.
A wise man once said: “If you want to see where a nation is going, take a look at its people”. Just look at the streets of a city like Colombo. It is the law of the jungle. I know it is heaven compared to the streets of Chennai or Calcutta. Look at the behavior of almost every driver. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country. So is Thailand. But look at the courtesy and respect that Bangkok drivers show each other! On our streets, we must begin today doing what we want done to us. It makes no sense to drive out of a three hour religious service behaving like a lunatic on the road!
In the hospitality industry and in government offices I have seen how employees talk to each other with no or little respect. In Sri Lanka, do we treat foreigners with more respect than we treat our own people? Do we really respect each other?
Then there is the incredible income inequality that exists in ‘Banana Republics’ and so many nations even in many of the most advanced nations. The rich and elite live in a world of their own, some burying themselves in causes and donating to churches, temples and preachers with the hope of buying their Salvation. The preacher’s get rich and their lifestyles are far removed from the real message they should be preaching. The message of their Master who said ‘Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’. The crumbs are also donated. It is a travesty that 8 billionaires in the world have more wealth than 50% of humanity! In individual nations, it is the same sad story. Bob Dylan sang: ‘How many times can a man turn his head and pretend he just doesn’t see?’
Let us examine or consciences and resolve today to do unto others what we want done to us and to do the right thing whatever the cost. More than being a rational animal, man is a rationalizing animal, rationalizing all his or her behavior, a famous Psychiatrist once told us. Leadership in our homes, schools, universities, professional bodies, places of worship and in business and government must be by example.
When will we ever learn to say with our hearts the three, three-word sentences in the English language or any language: ‘I am sorry’; ‘Please forgive me’; and above all, ‘I love you’. We all stumble. We must ignore the failures and ‘Faux Pas’ of each other, and bring out the best in each other.
We can do better as a people, as human beings, and as a nation. We must do better to regain the respect and confidence of the global community, and yes, the confidence of Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poors.