By Maureen Seneviratne
Are you as fascinated with the Comic Strip, ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ as I am? Calvin is a perfect example of human nature with all its follies and foibles. And Hobbes is full of wisecracks at their joint antics.
In one of the recent Comic Strips Calvin’s father informs him that they, Calvin’s mother and father have decided to give him an allowance. It is important, Calvin’s father told him, that he learns the use of money. Calvin’s reply is significant. “Ha, ha, ha, I am rich,” he laughs. “I’m rich, I’m rich! I can buy off anyone! The World is mine! Power! Friends! Prestige! I can fix it all! I am rich!”
Is it not significant that Calvin does not speak of virtues?
Money cannot buy love. All the money in the world cannot buy genius or talent. Practice can make perfect, but the initial signs of talent whether in scholarship, sports, music, dancing must be present and perceived in childhood, then carefully nurtured till it fully blooms. If not encouraged and nurtured, talent can fade away.
Genius, on the other hand, usually bursts through any bonds and finds its way to meet the challenges. There were great composers of immortal music who lived in garrets. Many underwent great deprivation but they left the world richer by their presence, leaving their posterity in their works or art.
Shakespeare earned money by his plays and poetry and built himself a fine home in Stanford upon Avon, but he was not a millionaire and never became one.
In our hospitals, in hospitals around the world there are patients who never have even a single visitor. So much so that kind people form themselves into hospital visiting groups to comfort such patients in their loneliness. They bring flowers and small gifts. But money cannot buy their love and care for these strangers who are sick. This is very much to be seen in the Cancer Hospital. No patient is friendless.
Advertising in the media makes people, a great many people, to buy and own the goods that are promoted. It is natural for us to keep a lovely home with plenty of household items that are needed. It is important also to love and be proud of our home. There was a Prime Minister of Sri Lanka who once said that every family should own their own home. He did everything he could to make this a possibility. But I have visited many beautiful homes where love and kindness are absent.
In many families today, children spend a lot of time out of their homes, with their friends. Their parents do not even know where they are because they have lost control of their kids. It would be well for such people to think about the damages caused to homes and the scattering of people during the war.
Oh, show me the way home, runs the old song. There is no place like home, wrote another poet, wherever I wonder there is no place like home. Home is where one can let down ones hair, meaning one can truly be oneself only at home. And home is not the mere structure but the people, the family who live in it. That is what we have to create because money cannot buy it. You can purchase hospitality in a hotel but the most precious things in life cannot be bought. To return to Calvin, his creator was giving readers a fine, true lesson in life.