But some things in a nation are exceptional. Say for instance Japan. I have never found any cheap quality product made by Japan. I have come across hundreds of broken Japanese equipment but I never met a single person who claims Japanese items are bad. I believe India and China have good stuff. Otherwise they cannot emerge as world powers. Anyhow due to some reason the image is not that good because people have found their recommendations inaccurate and unreliable. If Japanese say you have to throw this car away in 10 years time, he means that. If an Indian says the same thing it may mean you may have to throw it away tomorrow itself or more often he may never say things like that! That is the identity of different nations.
We, Sri Lankans on the other hand have so many unique identities. A very significant one is throwing junk on public places to keep private property clean. This has no difference in remote areas or urban areas. The situation is the same. The problem arose in no time as the town councils asked to keep garbage bags in front of the homes to be collected by their service agents. People took advantage of this and started dumping rotten food stuff in front of homes. Gradually dwellers got used to this and started to keep garbage bags only on the days that garbage truck is coming for collection. Since the truck does not go in the small by lanes people started to put the bags at entrance of the roads which gradually ended up in forming a rotten junk mountain. Stray dogs and cats mess up the places more and more. People who dwell near the collecting points are facing a real trouble because the rotten bad smell is always disturbing the daily life. Places are really made dirty and it is hard to pass the way through. It makes disturbing scenery with all the garbage, worms and everything. Personally I know a handful of occasions where home owners have involved in quarrels regarding dump. So most of all it is even creating social issues apart from health problems. Stray dogs, stray cats, mosquitoes and flies are multiplying adding up uncalculated waste expenditure such as funding for pest controlling, medicine for rabies, malaria and dengue. Apart from these a considerable amount of money is spent on educating people to take precautions on these. So it must be quite a lot of labor, time and money spent on these.
I have wondered why people behave like this. I mean not everybody. I don’t know much depth in other religions but in Buddhism this is violation of some basic teachings. Buddhism always asks to treat the others well and behave yourself in a manner that will never make others uncomfortable in any means. Further it says keeping public places clean is a merit which would result in good gains in this lifetime or in another lifetime (It originally says “Malu peth emadeema pinaki”). So this is a good measurement to find out how many people have understood Buddhism properly because it is not about preaching. Buddha has said “Sunaatha – Dhaaretha – Charaatha Dhamme” which means “Listen, Memorize and Practice the Principles”. So even though the country says majority is Buddhists ultimately they are pretending to be so. This small thing is a very good example. People very hardly make their own places dirty. Instead they always try to throw away their garbage to another’s place. I see this act as a social irresponsibility as well as an act of jealousy to make others uncomfortable (unfortunately this is the nature of some of our people).
So where lays the solution? Enforcing legal body? I don’t think so. Because the legal body of Sri Lanka has more than enough work to do. The town council, the police and the courts have more critical matters to address. But if we wait until all these are solved to address this garbage matter we won’t see that day in this life time. But we can do one small thing. We can start it from schools. We first have to convince the upper level. Administration of the education sector should be first convinced. Once they are thorough believers we can educate the principals and teachers. We have to start from year one and continue teaching them the better values irrespective of where the students come from or where the values come from. Year by year we have to renew students’ attitude on these. Read the biographies of well reputed people and find the influence of their teachers and schools. Unlike homes, schools are central locations that can be reached. Unlike parents teachers are in a certain level of development.
I’m suggesting this is feasible not because this is imaginable but because of I have seen a similar incident. Once we had a vice principal who had an agricultural degree. He thoroughly believed in himself and converted a total boys’ school into a green land. We had all sorts of vegetable ranging from cabbage to brinjols. We made compost out of waste materials collected in class rooms. The school even had small cattle. We created yoghurt as well. There was a bio gas section that functioned with garbage. The entire pest controlling was done with natural stuff. That vice principal got promoted and went to another school in Colombo (Isipathana College) where he did the same. Then he moved to Royal College where it is the same even now. The name of the maestro is Mr. Upali Gunasekara who poses a very good example on how to influence people and how to manage garbage problem. Our school was a community of 5000 students plus 250 teachers. So this is a practical solution to brainwash the next generation to hold better values. Likewise it may be too late to clear up the polluted minds of adults; in any case the next generation can be prevented from drowning. There are countries that have done that. But we need a handful of better leaders who do not pose for personal gains so that people will have a drive towards better practices. Selfishness should have limits. We all have a feeling for our property. But we don’t feel this is our country. We don’t feel that it is our money that is spent on maintaining public property. Nations who have that feeling properly are eye cooling scenery to watch. Clean and tidy free of junk and corruption.
So let’s do whatever we can to keep our country clean (This includes not throwing away bus tickets everywhere we get down from). I don’t have to be an important person, still being an ordinary person we can contribute to the betterment of our country. This small matter shows a great collapse of a country even though we don’t see it directly. First we have to be a good person, and then have a good family, then a good village, then a good country. It is better to start small. Have a look at world leaders. All the good ones have good family lives. That is why Dr. Mahathir Mohammed the front runner of Malaysia’s development has admitted “Start from home”. So let’s start from home!