Dr. Ariyaratne – Pres and Founder of Sarvodaya – with the Finance Minister whose name I forget. This picture is a low-qual shot, but I like it, thematically. Dr. Ari’s got all the people behind him and the government man’s got nobody except the media
I only work at night, but when I have to get up in the morning it just kills me. Drinking tea doesn’t help, I just feel empty and cracked out. Today I went to a meeting which was boring, but kinda worth it. Dr. Ari drops some real gems sometimes. Sometimes I’m listening and then I’ll kick myself for not writing it down. One thing I remember is that he said the days of bureacracy were numbered, and I am all for that.
The way I see it, there’s too many middlemen between government and people. When I go into a government office I don’t get treated like a client, I get run around by the peon of a peon of a peon. If I call the Supreme Court ‘Balu’ (dog), then the Supreme Court throws me in jail, and there’s nobody to appeal to. Bureacracy is, at the end of the day, a communication technology. An outdated one.
I was telling Dr. Ari that the first step is to just give these invisible people a voice. I believe that they died because they didn’t have a voice. Thousands died in Kalmunai, and no one heard them scream. No one. The wave had a nice lazy hour to tour the coast before it hit Galle. People died because they didn’t have a voice, and now the government is evicting them from their land for the same reason. I was saying that if we could just get them online it’s cheaper than a cumbersome bureaucracy, and then they have some kinda voice. He said 10 years. I said said 2. Dr. Ari laughed.
“I think only 10 minutes ahead, you think 10 years!”
That made me laugh. Just that day his friend Rick Brooks was telling me how Dr. Ari thought 500 years ahead, coming up with this crazy impossible visions which – impossibly – got implemented. I told him that and he smiled and said, “I concede young man, I concede”.
He’s a dreamer, and he got it done. Every day I look around at all the buildings, tables, cars, people, villages, I look around and I see that he built all that. There was nothing and then there was a movement with 15,000 villages, 34 district centers, banks, orphanages, meditation centers – a virtual shadow government. And he was just a teacher from Nalanda visiting villages with his students. Of all the people I’ve meet he’s probably the greatest. I haven’t actually met anybody, but Dr. Ari is still pretty cool.