The desire to succeed is part of human thinking. When man was a hunter, he aspired to get his target. This same mindset has evolved today into a very complex mechanism of thought. It is perfect to have aspirations and achieve them. The question is how do we achieve our desired goals? Are they based on honesty, integrity and hard work? One of the plagues to afflict Sri Lanka is the abuse of influence. People influence people every day to get more influence. The ripple effect of this syndrome is that the most suitable person never gets a fair chance to achieve their goals in any circumstance.

Let us pause for a moment and see how this plague has invaded us. It begins with a person’s birth. One must wield power to get the services of a good foreign educated gynecologist to enter the world! Of course, there are thousands born in villages with the help of the midwife. Next comes the costly drama of school admission. Parents will have to get certified letters from an assortment of ‘big shots’ including clergy to create an impression to the school board.

Here we must note that the members of such boards have also got their place on those OBU/OGA boards using greater influence! Having achieved the milestone of putting the kid into school the parent needs to wield many ‘pockets of influence’ to enhance the child’s journey through college. We see sports teams field some overweight players, whose CEO fathers have “supported” the college. Such cheap behaviour deprives many students who are talented yet can’t afford to attend sports practice.

Once this hurdle is passed the second drama of university entrance begins. There are many intelligent students who secure their desired seats, due to honest results. Again we see influence coming into play where money secures seats for students who didn’t put in much effort. There have been many protests in the recent past to put a halt to such malpractices. As this journey towards success continues the average citizen is brought to his biggest test, securing employment.

We are aware how political influence can literally push unqualified and incompetent creatures into executive positions. These shameless souls experience the perks and incentives not being able to even draft a letter in English. Sri Lanka is one of few nations in the corporate world where applicants use names of referees who are not related to the field in which they have applied in. Such ‘big shots’ should give a second thought about using their high office to help, as this is actually fraudulent.

Promotions must be given on consistent performance and not on politics and gossipmongering. There remain many frustrated men and women whose genuine career dreams were destroyed due to such political antiques. All governments from 1948 are fully responsible for this disdainful recruitment process. Perhaps as we probe history this has existed from the time of the British or even before, as Ceylonese leaned on the ruling whites for favours and it became part of our social heritage to go after influential persons. Another form of ‘influence’ is the use of a woman’s pleasurable breasts and voluptuous thighs to entice for employment and continuous promotion; this however is not only confined to Sri Lanka!

The honest citizen having endured many trials has to then desire more influence to overcome another hurdle which is marriage. While there are proposed and love marriages here again the ‘I’ factor unleashes its glamour and glory. Often children of ‘influential’ parents live a life that has tarnished their character, including nights of exotic premarital sex. Money can wash away many sins. These immature adults soon celebrate their weddings in star class grandeur. It also must be said that some parents seek such connections to further influence the next generation who can then wield their ‘collective influence’. In a broader context influence is needed at hospitals, banks, Grama Sevaka offices, Police stations and even to secure a intercity ticket at the railway station! Success without integrity is failure.