Friday, March 9, 2018

One Nation Identity – the need of the hour

My previous blog post alluded to the reasoning behind our recurrent flare-ups that appear race based, picking on one group, as the cause of frustration and pent up anger of the Majority, showing itself in reckless behavior.

If the minority community for any reason, NOT associated with race, harms one of the majority community, then it is assumed that they had no right to harm him or her, not allowing the normal law of the land to meet out punishment for the crime, they take it upon themselves to meet violence on the innocent members of the community to which the perpetrators belong and feel justified in heaping maximum damage as a way of getting revenge for collective responsibility of the crime, a really bizarre sense of logic!

This is what happened in 1983, and we see a similar pattern in the events of today. Any civilized person knows this is clearly out of line, and NOT acceptable, but there is a large section of our community who believe this is just fair game. How do we combat this irrational and deranged thinking?

I have said it time and time again, we have to think of all citizens as one nation, and not as a sum of parts of communities making up the nation, where some have rights over others, that is where we have gone wrong.

ALL COMMUNITIES are guilty of this allegation and not just the Sinhala Community. As long as there is a perceived claim for one community to handle their affairs, as it suits them, like a Tamil Administration for the North, and a Muslim Administration in predominantly Muslim areas, and Buddhist Hegemony as a right in the Island, we have a problem and it will never go away.

If we all encompass a truly Sri Lankan identity, not just in cricket, and there too Muslims are accused of supporting Pakistan when they play against Sri Lanka, rightly or wrongly, we cannot move forward. It is clear that the intelligent and mobile and the most productive people in our Country, vote with their feet, and all the best brains of all communities, who believe that Sri Lanka will never change, have moved to foreign parts. They forsake their Sri Lankan identity, as they see no unified Identity and are perfectly happy to embrace the identity of USA, UK, Australia, NZ or Canada, and even countries in Europe that are so different from their backgrounds.

They feel that their skills and abilities are recognized and appreciated, unlike in their homeland, which is divided at the core! While they may come to Sri Lanka on holiday, or at best buy an apartment in Colombo, the most cosmopolitan of cities in the Island, their children are never going to follow suit.

It is as well to remember that I lived in the USA and UK for over 33 years and returned to Sri Lanka 14 years ago to help my Country, but all I have seen is resistance at every level! I have still not given up fighting in every direction for commons sense to prevail as evidenced in 1000 blog posts here in this blog over a 10 year period in a struggle to improve the quality of life of Sri Lankan living in this Island irrespective of class, race or creed. I therefore have some experience and knowledge on this topic.

So how do we embrace the ONE NATION concept and get it into the psyche of our people? Let us begin with the most innocent of them all, at the pre-school level, from where conception and misconceptions originate.

If we have a national plan of the one nation identity, we have to permit all people the freedom of being different, in any way they like, without offending their friends in pre-school to begin with. That would be a start.

That means it is perfectly OK for people to be of different faiths, even non believers, and races and casts and classes as that is what makes the human race. More than the Muslim need to follow their teachings as a matter of necessity, it is the Sinhala Buddhist concept that is innately irrational. There is no such thing. You can be Sinhala today, but you could have been something else yesterday, like many Colombo Chetties of recent origin from India have adopted Sinhala as their language, and some have even embraced Buddhism as their religion. Technically they are Sinhala and Buddhist, but Sinhala Buddhists of the rural ilk may not accept them as such! Bizarre isn’t it?

So I wish to disconnect Sinhala ISM from being Buddhist to start with. Only then can we have people who are Tamil, attracted to the Buddhist doctrine, just as much as foreigners of any ilk, and they should be encouraged to embrace the philosophy, for their own mental and physical advancement culminating in the achievement of the ultimate release into Sansara. They don’t even attempt to attract Muslim people to Buddhism, which in some senses is crazy as you can be a Muslim but at the same time practice the Buddhist precepts, without breaking any of the rules of Islam. Of course the Islamic teachers will not admit it, but it is simply a fact. Sufism is a case in point.

Only when you keep the Sinhala identity out of Buddhism, can you begin to see the light, both in your life and at the “end of the tunnel” to a solution to this Nation’s dilemma. I see this as being simple as the day follows the night, but of course tell that to the hard core of all races, they will lynch me for saying it with no real rationale but plain pig headedness worried that I am attacking their very being, and source of livelihood and survival. For example those naysayers, simply live off this canard, and benefit from this bogus doctrine of purity.

Buddhism is the only philosophy destined for the survival of the human race to be in equilibrium with the survival of the earth as all living creatures are given a place of prominence and so their balance in encouraged and preserved. This then is the ideal prescription for a Country to be sustainable in its development in a holistic sense. However it is these same Buddhists who are to blame for the mass destruction of the Country, the embrace of materialism and the building of Temples more as exhibits of power, and not as places of meditation. To that extent it is a commonly held view that few people who claim to be Buddhists including the clergy actually practice what they preach.

Along with this the Muslims have not done themselves any favors, by embracing foreign concepts, like the Wahabi doctrine that is practiced only by a minority of Muslims, which in part has led to the resentment of their forced alienation from being part of the community, preferring to keep to their own and in some cases in the East, have alien looking areas, where life has changed to a Saudi Arabian way of life, when 30 years prior was a normal Sri Lankan Muslim town, with a more relaxed and non-fundamentalist bent.

This behavior also MUST change, for this Sri Lankan identity to fully develop. What you practice in your places of worship is your calling, however there are degrees of behavior and pride in Sri Lankan NESS overrides your religious faith. The belief that Muslims connect more with Arabs than with Sri Lankans, as an integral part of their faith, is possibly what irks the local people who are not Muslim, and flares up at moments such as this. Without the needed open discussion, and debate to iron out and come up with compromises, so we can all live in peace and harmony, we will not make progress in this regard.

I would like to point out to Muslims that there are liberal Muslim countries that, subject to the official ban on tobacco or alcohol, bear no difference to Colombo in all other senses. It is therefore not a question of religion either, and merely an interpretation of the religion by those who practice it, that is causing some of this friction.

Politicians whose interest is never the Country, or the Sri Lankan identity must understand that they are not the people best able to create this identity as they are mere puppets of their constituency, or are the puppet masters of their constituency, so they are by definition, disingenuous. We have to therefore find people akin to what a statesman should be in order to impart this National Identity that I so feel we need and is the DESPERATE NEED OF THE HOUR.

I know I have upset many more than I have made friends in this Essay, but we have to come to terms with reality. We must ask if we want peace and a one Nation Identity! The Choice is yours, I have shown the way to a one NATION!!


Anonymous said...

Sri Lanka always merely acts to difuse a situation that has arise, but is completely incapable of predicting this type of outcome which was inevitable.

There is a strong belief, which only open discussion and strong leadership between all communities can resolve, that Muslims have over the years embraced a more fundamentalist belief from that held in the past, and they don't like it as it seems, brazen, with impunity and in your face.

The leaders of the Muslim community must address this fear psychosis head on, and tell their community that they have to behave in a more non threatening way, if they are to live peacefully with the Majority community, who are full of their direct or indirect majoritarian, minority like hangups. These hangups can only change, if there is some reversal of these external shows.

What are they?

The wearing of Arab dress by men and women, worse is women covering their full faces, something few Muslim countries tolerate, so why should we in Sri Lanka even allow it.

Then it is the Legislature, who have to get their skates on and ensure that there is just one law of the land for every citizen of this Country. they must obey the law without exception.

What are they?

MMA The muslim marriage act for example is a case in point, making the Police in Muslim areas very uncomfortable, as they see abuse of Muslim women they can do nothing about, while taking Sinhala people to task for underage sex and marriage.

All ATM where all are required to remove head dress for identity purposes, must include Muslim women too.

These are examples which Muslim elders should address, and put their more fundamentalist brethren to adhere to, rather than being held to ransom by them which is the case now, for political or other gain.

All these are very simple matters, that most Muslims will agree to, but are afraid to say, as they are concerned that people within their own community will tag them as being against their faith.

Just as every religion has different forms of adherence, it is normal to have different beliefs, and it is best to initially gently persuade the hardliners of common sense changes to practice for tolerance. After all live and let live is taught in all religions, and Islam is no different. It is that the Fundamentalist have been taught by some hardline bigots, who are holding the whole Muslim community to ransom, and thereby the communal harmony that existed for centuries.

Anonymous said...

Not one politician of any community has suggested an open discussion, which clearly shows they are hostages of their own vote bank.

Today, the UN USG for Political Affairs is in town, only meeting Pols and a few NGOs who are mere mouthpieces of their paymasters. So he will not be given a true idea of how this matter can easily be diffused.

At least if he was able to read your blog, this entry and the earlier one, I am sure he could get some idea of the real issues involved, something that he will not encounter in his meetings with puffed up self important personages, who have proved incapable of handling a small flare up of pent up frustration from trouble makers.

Anonymous said...

When there is a strong one nation identity, then any attempts by fundamentalists can easily be thwarted by the same community. So Muslims can show the Wahabis where to get off with their alien ways, and so can the Buddhists when their extremists, who want a pure Sinhala race, make their case, and can be neutralized by showing their errors.

So by not having this identity where nationhood comes first, we have the Wahabis infiltrating just as we have the Mahasona racists on the other side, that is the price we are paying now for not having a strong national identity of being Sri Lankan first and foremost.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, the insecurities of the Sinhala peasant has not changed for the past 1000 years, and they remain the same, no matter who is governing and what is happening around them. Don't forget they are lotus eaters happy to live off the land and gossip.

What happens is industrious people like the British, came and cleared forests and planted tea and realized the Sinhala people will not work for them no matter what. So they imported industrious people from India.

Similarly industrious people from all over the world, Arabs, and other small merchant classes came to fill the void, as the Sinhala people just don't feel it is necessary to break a leg for any one or any enterprise.

So when they saw the British favoring the hard working Jaffna Tamil into positions of power and professions, the insecurity and jealousy erupted and then flared once a death or two were the catalyst for an all out war.

There is no difference this time round, as the industrious people who replaced the Tamils who went on to do other things and other lands, were the Muslims, who were not tied to land and with hang ups and trading in their blood took to business of every sort to make money like a duck to water.

So the Sinhala people seeing this, some sold their homes and moved on, as the price offered was irresistible and then some areas turned from Sinhala majority to Muslim majority areas, creating pressure on the people who originally lived there, but who have learned that the Muslims by and large keep to themselves and dont cause too much fights.

Add to all this the Sinhala lotus eaters who are easily hoodwinked, the local clergy pointed out that it was originally their land when it was not, it was Yakshayas anyway, that has now been taken over, their resentment began to simmer. With their passive demeanor they took it until they cannot take it any more and those whose fuses are the shortest are today's trouble makers.

In a few years when more and more fuses are shorted, we could see a further conflagration of Epic proportions, which will take this Country back another 50 years but the Sinhala people (that is the rural majority) who have not seen any benefit in 500 years except in life expectancy, which they really don't aknowledge as a benefit in their thinking, have nothing to lose in these conflagarations.

the government must understand that most of those who go about looting and creating the mayhem have nothing themselves, so to them burning other people' hard earned wealth does not mean a hill of beans to them anyway, like we feel as we value progress.

They have not seen progress in their lives, so they resent other making progress right in front of them by being clever and industrious. The sinhala people are clever but not industrious, so the differences are even more marked.

Add the Buddhist philosophy of getting rid of all things, you have a contrast, where poverty is supposed to be the ultimate state of bliss, and what you see is the mass acquisition of wealth on a grand scale. These two don't mix, like oil and water. you then have a real problem.

This explains the current dilemma, where neither party can understand the other party as their philosophy of living is different and there is no common ground to be found.

Even the equilibrium with nature is not a Muslim belief as it is the primacy of man over all other living things, so they don't much care for the preservation of the ecology or environment, as they are only expected to obey their religious edicts to the letter and no reference is made to the preservation of the environment. If there was we would see them as the protectors with a vengeance as they are generally very submissive to the edicts of the religion and do not question if it is right or relevant in the age we currently live in.

I have written much to try and explain the basic differences, to reason why it is such a difficult problem to bring to totally different communities to the table to live and let live, without making the other feel second class.

Anonymous said...

If the above is to be believed it is a purely economic issue of haves and have nots, and not a religious one. It just painted like that because the poor are Sinhala Buddhists and the better off are Muslim. Put it another way if both communities were in the same economic state, then we would not have a problem.

The best example is the death societies in Sinhala villages. It is the only time people get together to help each other, when there is a funeral, and one is seen as suffering, so you go to help.

They don't get together to help someone on the up, thinking they too will benefit, unlike in Muslim society where all are helped up as part of the religion of helping the less well off around you as part and parcel of your ticket to heaven.

No wonder then there is no hope for mutual live and let live unless there is a common goal in life. That is why in Colombo, there is not so much anger in high society, among communities and you see them in the same parties. you just don't see that at all in the rural communities.

Anonymous said...

Hakeem's shoot on sight request is the worst thing he could have said in public. Now any one being shot on sight for looting or rioting, will create a huge backlash, and only Hakeem can be blamed, however much you agree the backlash against innocents is not the way to go. the police will not then shoot people en masse as the people will take over the police and there will be a complete breakdown of law and order.

It was totally irresponsible for people to talk like that, especially him, who leads a double life, as a hooray henry in Colombo and claims he befriends his community in the East and Kandy when it suits his political survival.

We have keep politics out of this and resolve differences amicably.