The Crisis Of Our Times
Sir James Peiris by L.J.M. Cooray

"The law is in crisis." This was the first sentence in an article I read recently. It is not only the law that is in crisis. All over the world we read of economic crises, social crises, ethnic conflicts and crises, national conflicts and crises, crises in family life, crises of poverty, crises of exploitation, crises of homelessness, crises of governmental oppression, crises of man's inhumanity to man and so on. The fundamental crisis is the turning away of men and women from spiritual and moral values. To my mind it is a turning away from the true, almighty and everliving God. Many may disagree with me. On the other hand if I say it is turning away from moral vales that underlie all religions and also humane rationalism, many more will agree. I do not believe that any political ideology or 'ism' (theories of social change, anti-discrimination policies, ideas of social justice, socialism, liberalism, conservatism, humanism, or any other `ism') can do the job. No single ideology or `ism' can save the world. Drawing from the most constructive aspects of ideologies and `isms' will help, provided the root cause of all problems is recognized - a turning away from the spiritual dimension and the moral values common to all religions.

The principles which are common to all religions include the pursuit of truth, honesty, keeping promises, responsibility, duty, avoidance of the commission of physical injury except for just cause, fairness in personal relations, concern for one's neighbours, respect for property, loyalty and duty to ones' spouse and children, the work ethic, and concern for the genuinely poor and the underprivileged. Emphasis is upon the duty and the responsibility of the individual. No society can function effectively or humanely and no civilization can endure without these values.

Traditional morality is inestimably important. Without it, all kinds of injustice and oppression against ordinary persons are sanctioned; not the distorted and imaginary oppressions of marxist theory, but the real oppressions which arise when men forget the golden rule: love your neighbour as yourself. The abandonment of traditional morality is the cue for expropriation of private property, heavy taxation, theft, waste, compulsory association, totalitarian thought control, sexual exploitation, disloyalty to family, social engineering, genocide (including the genocide of the unborn child) and impiety. It is worth emphasizing that religion is about duties and responsibilities - not rights. Morality tells individuals what they must not do and provides principles for good living. The emphasis on rights in modern society (encouraged by modern educational theories and ideas) is a challenge to religion. The duty centred society will automatically generate respect for important human rights and moral values. On the other hand the focus on rights in a society which is not concerned about duties (such as honesty and keeping promises) will lead human kind backwards.

Many write about politics, including politicians, academics, journalists and concerned people. Many suggestions are provided for building a better society and reform. These proposals inevitably draw from theories and ideas based on theories of social change, socialism, justice, social justice, liberalism, equality, anti-discrimination, ending of oppression, concern for minorities, reducing exploitation, distribution of wealth, participatory democracy, democracy, civil liberties and so on. The missing dimension is that there can be no improvement in human society unless the spiritual and moral dimensions are confronted. A better world requires better human beings, who are honest and not corrupt. A simple proposition which is ignored in academic and political discourse.

What is the use of proposals for political and legislative reform, where the government consisting of politicians, bureaucrats and the people are enmeshed in increasing corruption and nepotism, with little respect for the moral values which underpin all religions and humane rationalism?

As a Christian, I see the root cause of all human crises today, as the turning away from the spiritual dimension and the moral virtues set out in God's Holy Word in the Bible. It is in that context that I present to you the life of Sir James Peiris.

His motto in life was; "Veritas Vincit", which means "Truth Conquers". He chose this as the motto for his armorial bearings when he was knighted. For James Peiris truth commenced with self criticism. He was his harshest critic. We live in an age wherein education and politics, criticism is confined to criticising others - not oneself.

Truth, love, faith and the grace of God were the principles which guided and motivated his life and which he faithfully adhered to in family, private and public life. I provide some evidence to support this assertion by quoting from the views of his contemporaries.

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