A lighted coconut flower sheath burns brightly but briefly. A firebrand gives less light, but endures longer.
Those who can kindle a fire for a festive occasion are few, today. We can bask in the warmth of success and rightly so, but the power to endure hardship for sustained periods is low among all Sri Lankans. Today there is incessant chatter about the scarcity of onions, coconuts, dhal, eggs and chicken. Can we not endure this for a week or two?
There are burning issues in all countries of the world. These concerns revolve around health, food, employment and natural disasters. Sri Lanka was the one country which remained silent on such issues. Why? Because we had the resilience to endure both good and bad fortune, gains and losses, praise and blame, comfort and hardship. The time has come to re-cultivate that capacity for endurance within ourselves.
There was a time when our gracious patrons, had to substitute leeks for onions in their daily offerings at temples. There is no place in Sri Lanka where the small red onions cannot be grown. Leaves of the ginger plant are a useful supplement. People must be encouraged to grow their needs of food in every village. It is regrettable but true that the trader has lost all compassion for the consumer in a frenzy to make more and more profit. Such excess will only result in an eventual reaction of harsh regulatory laws. The consumer has the opportunity to penalize errant traders. He can boycott high priced merchandise. If alternatives are used to avoid buying high priced coconuts for a week or two, within that period the price of coconut would come down.
In the past, when there was a scarcity, people used naturally dehydrated coconut or copra. The people these days have less capacity to accumulate provisions for future needs. However, to preserve some jak seeds covered in sand and to dry some jak pods is not a difficult task. We must not forget that the ancient Sri Lankan people always preserved and saved food items such as jak, breadfruit and coconuts for lean periods and famines.
Fresh limes could be preserved for long if they are kept buried in sand.
Even our friends in the media need food. In the so called primitive societies there was no food crisis. The Veddahs knew how to dry and preserve hunted game for long stretches of time.
But that kind of wisdom no longer persists with them. In the past, there were instances when the Muslim community observed the Ramazan fast lightly. It is not so today, and every Muslim child is trained in the observance of the fast. We Buddhists, on the other hand, have forgotten there are four poya days in a month. When we observe sil we miss four meals and train our bodies to stay without food, and limit ourselves to reflecting on the teachings of the Lord Buddha. But today, we have no patience to wait for the next pot of rice, should the first one be spoilt.
There is no country without food problems. Even in America, a weakening of its economy could create difficulties in feeding the people. Gerald Celeste, renowned for accurately predicting future world and economic events has predicted food riots in America by 2012. Malpractices in finance companies have severely impacted on the people, and Governmental action has been slow, even with the Central Bank coming under the President. Such was the case of the Pramuka Bank.
Trade Unions have become ineffective, swallowing up the contributions of their members, who would be better advised to deposit these contributions in a Savings Account!
There are only a few who are concerned about education, health, development, and the future generation of the country. Weddings take place throughout the three hundred and sixty five days. But today’s marriage is broken tomorrow. Families had over ten children then, but the present generation has very few. Despite that they rarely know how to rear the few they have.
There is no organization now to stand up for the people and rally them. In every herd of animals there is a leadership. If that leadership fails, every individual must learn to be self reliant, wise and courageous, without expecting others to solve their problems. We must learn to solve our own problems. Even if you have given your sword to another, ensure that you keep one for yourself. Act with wisdom and foresight to make the coming Year a remarkable one.
Regretfully, many have forgotten humanity and only act with endless greed. Now the time has come to remember that we all grow old and die one day, regardless of our positions whether big or small in society . So we have to discipline ourselves.
In the year 2011 we have to be conscious about our weaknesses and realize the necessity to contribute our share toward everyone’s benefit.