Beyond the quadrangle



             On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Old Boys’

Association of S. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia, our columnist and

author of the Thought Leadership Forum Ranel Wijesinha contributed

the following:

THE OBA @ 125 is a formidable score, which will provoke the desire to belong.

A claim to belong, however, is not about a name in the class register in the

archives of the school by the sea, a plaque that records a prize, a place in a team, or

even the appointment as a prefect of the house or the school or much more.

The number of times one attended the annual cricket encounter, rugby match

or regatta while wearing the blue and the black on the outside does not also

add strength to a claim to belong. Being a Thomian is much more than that.

Beyond physical infrastructure

What we often remember is the small club or the big club grounds, the chapel,

the middle school block, the college hall, the many other distinct features of the

college or that pure white border around the golf like green – the Quadrangle.

All this was a warm and secure home away from home, for more than 12 years –

the longest period we would have been in any establishment of learning. But this

 is reminiscing about physical infrastructure only. We need to move beyond the

quadrangle, as it were – but yet, be anchored by it.

Beyond class teachers and  classmates



We will also remember those who moulded us into what we are and that

would include wardens, sub-wardens, head masters and members of our teaching

faculty. We will cherish the memories of classmates with whom we played,

fought and debated, some of whose friendships we yet retain.

The anchor

Yes, all this physical and people infrastructure would have anchored us down

to a set of values, the principles of self worth and self-respect and a code of conduct

that we might follow. This anchor will discourage us from drifting away from

that value system. It is about an expectation we have of ourselves and the expectations,

those around us, have of us. Politics, the professions or business

We must be mindful that we cannot use the name and age of the school, its history

and reputation or simply the fact that we went to S. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia as

a defence for any action of any kind that may not be what a Thomian would engage

in. In essence, we cannot take cover under the college flag. Thus, whether we are in

politics or the professions, in businesses of our own or in blue chips, whether we are in

Sri Lanka or overseas, we have to be worthy of representing the college flag.

If we are in politics, we need to conduct ourselves in a manner such that we

do not have to battle the battles that we, as a nation, were forced into in the past.

If we are in the professions, whether it is in the practice of law, medicine, accounting

or engineering or any other, we must remember that a Thomian will, in the first

instance, ensure that he serves the public interest. If we are in business, we must

have a conscience. That conscience, the yardstick by which we are judged, is not the

value of the corporate bottom line and balance sheet alone, or the rupees and cents of

our personal net worth achieved at any cost, and sometimes at the expense of many

others. A Thomian is judged by much more than that. Might I add that a Thomian is not

aloof, arrogant or obnoxious? A Thomian is not over confident, offensive, defensive,

insensitive and hostile. But at the same time, a Thomian is certainly not servile,

subservient and docile. A Thomian is independent and objective, but can yet be a

humble, team player. All this, of course, is a tall order and even Thomians are only

human. But being Thomian is a tall order and the least we can do to belong is to

continuously strive towards this ideal. I believe that the message I have endeavoured

to convey is a simple one. That message is that we do not have the right to claim to be

Thomian until we continuously assess and self evaluate whether we are leveraging the

values and discipline we learned at college and in turn, adding value to our families,

communities, our professions and vocations, the nation or the world, or whether we are

contributing to the erosion of each or any one of these. That indeed is the litmus test, of

whether we can call ourselves “Thomians” or not.


Esto Perpetua














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