Losing all sense of perspective
Posted on September 8th, 2018

By R.S. Karunaratne Courtesy Ceylon Today

During the past 50 years, life for most of us has been transformed beyond recognition. Sometimes we wonder at how such change, took place, in a span of half a century. Poets and philosophers have often reminded us of the ever-changing pattern of life. The celebrated Greek philosopher Heraclitus (c. 540-c. 480) said, You can’t step twice into the same water.”

P.B. Shelley wrote, ‘Naught may endure but mutability.’ Longfellow expressed a similar observation in these words: ‘All things must change / To something new, to something strange.’

Men may come and men may go and nothing remains static in this world. Similarly, life itself consists of energy, movement, rhythm, growth and transmutation. When the world itself is turning upon its axis and is circling in its own orbit human life cannot possibly remain static. The world has been created in such a way that nothing remains constant.

In most parts of the world, seasons change through spring, summer, autumn, winter and back to the same cycle. Even a tree grows, blooms, withers and dies, but another tree is born from the seeds. Some countries are extremely cold, others extremely hot. In the same way, light follows darkness in endless succession.

Human life follows the same pattern. A new-born baby begins to breathe, think and move. Eventually, a child grows up into a man or woman. Nobody can change this pattern. Nature does not allow anybody to idle. If you stand idle, you will grow rusty. Although change is essential to human life, all changes are not necessarily for the benefit of mankind. So long as man is his own creator, he alone is responsible for any change he makes.

If he makes a wise change, he will be rewarded. If he makes an unwise change, he will suffer. Thus his future depends upon the wisdom of his choice.

Political change

The people of Sri Lanka wanted a political change in 2015. The majority of them voted against the Rajapaksa regime and paved the way for a coalition of two rival political parties – Sri Lanka Freedom Party and United National Party – to form a Unity Government. After three years of Yahapalanaya, voters are wondering whether they made a wrong decision. This is one instance where we made a change which is politically immature and unwise.

Although there is nothing wrong in change, there is a craze for speed today. You can see motorcycles, three-wheelers, cars and private buses roaring along dusty roads. The people, their houses and trees are covered with dust thrown up by the vehicles. In wet weather pedestrians are sprayed with muddy water from the spinning wheels. Those who drive fast miss the simple pleasures and wonders of nature.

Apart from the craze for speed, the death toll from accidents is on the increase. We have to pay a heavy price for fast and reckless driving. Therefore, it is time we decided whether this modern craze for speed is a wise change.

Modern methods of manufacture and the total absorption of small businesses by multinational companies have created many problems. In a big company, individual workers have no personal interest in the business. They work for a negotiated salary. In the past, workers in small industrial units had a personal interest in the job. They had a close relationship with the employer. Today’s employees hardly meet their bosses who operate from air-conditioned rooms.


On the other hand, machines are replacing workers. In a local soft drink manufacturing company 200 workers were employed to process fruits before turning them into soft drinks and other by-products. However, the employer bought an expensive machine to process the fruits and the 200 employees lost their jobs. We cannot blame the manufacturer for introducing machines in his factory because his motive is to make a sizeable profit. However, such decisions invariably lead to severe unemployment among the youth.

We have unwittingly created a class of people who earn big money and enjoy too much of leisure. Most of them make money by selling drugs or engaging themselves in anti-social activities. Nobody knows how much they earn. Although they do not pay income tax, they take a keen interest in committing crimes and other misdemeanours. Most of them commit crimes through sheer boredom. This remains a major social problem.

The universities in Sri Lanka have become hotbeds of politics. Instead of following lectures and doing research, students can be seen on the street shouting slogans and disrupting the flow of traffic. They may be having valid grievances. But is this the right way to win their demands? The government too has adopted an intransigent attitude towards the protesting students. Very often we see how the demonstrators are dispersed by using water cannons and tear gas.  At this rate our universities will not be able to produce scholars in any field.


Some of the drastic changes taking place today are nothing but upheavals. People are clamouring for relief, but the authorities remain deaf and dumb to their demands. The cost of living is soaring, but the government wants the people to tighten their belts.

Instead of cushioning the blow the government is dishing out bigger allowances to Parliamentarians. This is not the change the people expected.

A recent survey found that most young voters have lost their faith in politicians. They are no longer interested in elections. They want opportunities for higher education and employment. When their demands are not met, they pose a serious threat to the government and society.

Amid the swirl of life’s many and varied changes, we are apt to be influenced by false estimates. We have lost our sense of true values. Today we feel the importance of perspective in measuring the frequent changes in life that cannot be overemphasized.

We should guard against false promises and blind prejudices. Both the rulers and the ruled should keep their balance, think constructively and logically. They should adapt themselves to new changes while clinging to ideals which have stood the test of time.

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