An elegant collection of speeches and writings
Ranjan Perera's latest book Beyond the Words is a collection of
famous speeches and writings. The author has reined in a wide spectrum
of speakers and writers to give the reader a slice of their thinking on
The book opens with Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg address. It
is not a long speech delivered by average politicians. It is a brief
speech loaded with meaning delivered by one of the great US Presidents.
All right-thinking people should read it for its sheer elegance of
language and the message passed on to the future generations. Such a
brilliant speech could come only from a statesman such as Abraham
Beyond the words
Author: Ranjan Perera
The next article written by Albert Einstein, the greatest physicist
of the 20th century, is even more illuminating. The subject - religion
and science - itself is controversial and can be handled only by a
person of Albert Einstein's calibre. He concludes his erudite piece of
writing saying," ... in this materialistic age of ours the serious
scientific writers are the only profoundly religious people."
The author should be commended for including the speeches of a few
Sri Lankans in the book. For instance, Sir Arthur C. Clarke's 'My vision
for Sri Lanka in 2048' is an eye-opener for many of us. Dubbed as a
science visionary in his lifetime, Clarke predicted many future events
accurately and most of them came true in later years. However, we have
to wait for some more time to see whether his other predictions would
In this article Clarke gives a powerful message to the future
generations. He says, "We who have spent all our lives in what I regard
as the most savage century in known history have little moral right to
tell our children how they should manage their affairs in the next
century. But they can certainly benefit from our mistakes and ensure
that they live in a century far better than mine."
S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike who spearheaded the 1956 Revolution is
well-known for his illuminating speeches. The author has included
Bandaranaike's speech entitled, "Man must conquer himself" for the
edification of the reader. Being an Oxford graduate and well-versed in
Western Classical Culture, Bandaranaike's speeches are usually full of
philosophical ideas. In the speech reproduced in the book, he says, "Man
may conquer the world, he may conquer nature and he may even dominate
the universe, but these victories will turn to dust and ashes, if he
fails to make the last and most difficult conquest of all - conquest of
Bandaranaike reiterated the same ideas propounded by the Buddha and
J. Krishnamurti. The Buddha was the first religious teacher to ask his
followers to conquer themselves. Later on, Krishnamurti and a host of
other Western philosophers echoed the same sentiments.
The celebrated British philosopher Bertrand Russell's speech on
"Shall we put an end to the human race?" is thought-provoking and
timely. Almost all powerful countries are developing their arsenal and
gearing for another confrontation with their enemies. Russell foresees
the inevitable result in this mad rush for power and prestige.
He says, "I appeal as a human being to human beings: Remember your
humanity and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a
new paradise; if you cannot, nothing lies before you but universal
Ranjan Perera has thought it fit to include a speech delivered by
President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The speech was delivered by the President
to mark the liberation of the Eastern Province from the clutches of the
He concludes the speech by saying, "...I am convinced this light
would cause the historic brotherhood among the Sinhalese, Tamils and
Muslims to sprout fresh shoots and thrive. Sri Lankans are living in
peace today because of the President's timely intervention to eradicate
The author has included speeches and writings of many others such as
US President Barack Obama, Dalai Lama, Fidel Castro, George W, Bush,
Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, J. R. Jayewardene and
Swami Vivekananda. Some of the personalities are internationally known.
However, a few relatively unknown people have been included in the book.
The compilation of a book of this nature is no easy task. It is
imperative that the author cannot afford to make mistakes or omissions.
Although there are a few typographical errors, the book provides the
reader with a new vision based on what great writers, statesmen and
rulers say on different aspects of human life.