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!!