6 February, 2023


A Conversation With A Chameleon On Murder

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Now, I want to talk with you about another matter on which I cannot find any human being interested to talk to. It is about a peculiarity of us human beings which I think your species has no experience of which is the capacity, as well as some kind of willingness, to kill. Killing one’s own species is one aspect of human uniqueness. I know that in your species you also sometimes, quarrel. I have seen that in my early days of youth, how some of you have a small quarrel,on a  branch of a tree or sometimes continuing to quarrel from tree to tree.  However, that kind of fight is often to expel another from one’s territory, and it does not go beyond to the extent of killing another.

There have been times when human beings tried to create abhorrence, a moral disgust, against killing and such a killing would lead to a moral outrage. But what I have observed in the recent times is that this  sense of moral outrage against killing, seems to have been subdued or virtually lost – has simply disappered. It may well be that people privately are against the killing of one person by another but, these days, they do not try to publicly demonstrate that disapproval. There is some kind of incapacity that has developed among human beings to express disapproval even of such things as murder. Instead, what seems to have developed is an increase in taking precautions, to try to avoid becoming the victim of a killing, a victim of some evil thing that everyone knows is quite widespread now. We human beings have become the sort of creatures whose success in survival seems to depend on the extent of precautions that we take for our survival. The precaution does not take the form, as perhaps it did at one time, of being armed or being prepared to defend oneself from being  attacked by another. So, each person intimidates the other and thereby prevents the other from attacking.

Nowadays, what happens is that people withdraw from society as much as possible, so that they do not become the target of a killing. People find that disassociation from other human beings brings greater protection than association and cooperation. People fear each other so much that  the idea of cooperation is less and less relied upon. Perhaps associated with this is the idea that the distrust of others is a better attitude to have than trust.

All this is quite the opposite of what we have been claiming about ourselves, and about our social arrangements, including our political organizations. We have claimed that we have come to some kind of a social contract to cooperate with each other. The idea of cooperation is at the very heart of the idea of humanity itself. We have claimed to be creatures capable of cooperating with each other for the benefit of everyone. However, instead of having that attitude and a belief in cooperation, which naturally leads to the other virtue of trusting each other, today we have given significance to the idea of not wanting to cooperate and withdrawing from cooperation as much as possible, and keeping what some may even call a healthy distrust of others. The moral implications of such a distrust is that we do not care about – nor do we  consider ourselves capable of caring – about the wellbeing of others, to the extent that we do not even think ourselves capable of preventing the killing of another. Instead of the idea of keeping an open mind so that we notice others, today’s thinking is, that even if we meet eye to eye with others, it is best to avoid eye contact and not to get involved  so that one does not come to any harm. The belief that others can harm more than help is so deep and so widespread that we have created a kind of culture of withdrawal, thinking of it as a culture that suits us and which will work well for us.

Unlike in your species, in our species we used to have people called heroes. A hero was somebody who did something great on behalf of many others. Something that many others would be afraid of doing. One of those heroic things we used to admire was the courage of those who come forward with the hope of reforming all of us and creating habits among us which will discourage violence, and help to create attitudes in us to abhor things which are bad for others, such as killings, rape and other forms of harm to others. For example, we had in the Jewish civilization a man called Moses who proclaimed  ten commandments that everybody should obey. The first of which was  ‘Thou shall not kill’. This shows that there were efforts to create some form of  collective agreement on the fact that we shall not kill and that we will not allow others to kill. Killing other human beings thus became something that we disapproved of, and we expressed disapproval even by the infliction of  severe punishment for those who did such things that was collectively disapproved of.

However, what has been happening now is that we are losing that sense of active disapproval, and therefore killing for one purpose or another is considered a kind of heroic behavior by those who pursue some cause. It is not only among some groups that this has developed, but also in our forms of government. Nevertheless, Our governments do not primarily consider themselves as agents who are supposed to strengthen the cooperation of people and thereby increase trust, confidence and even generate love and compassion for each other.

Instead, the State develops its own secret machinery for killing. People are trained to be extremely efficient in killing, and to create that efficiency the States use a lot of resources. There are things called commando units, special task forces and many other para-military groups who are given long periods of training to become  efficient killers.

Part of that efficiency is to leave no trace of the killings. Governments provide vehicles, communication facilities and  salaries and financial rewards for running such efficient killing mechanisms. And the State, in order to facilitate the functioning of such mechanisms, also discourages judicial institutions, which were in the past considered as the guardians of civil liberties of individuals.

Nowadays, methods have been developed to reduce these courts to the same situation as that of individuals who think that it is better to withdraw from the society than to engage with it. Through many methods, courts are prevented from engaging in order to prevent and punish killings and other forms of harm that people inflict on  each other. Judges who are capable of being silent are rewarded. Sometimes the Judges themselves preach a new message, about the wisdom in not interfering while the Government maintains killing squads. So what I am trying to talk about with you is something that human beings do not want to talk about amongst themselves, in the recent times.  We have begun to approve of killings as quite an essential part of maintaining our civilization. That idea of civilization is also no longer one of people cooperating with each other in order to pursue the common good of all, but rather of individuals and groups withdrawing from the rest of the society and pursuing their own interests while taking precautions against being harmed by others.

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  • 3

    The horrors that we are witnessing today go back to the horrors of the 20th century, with Hitler on the one hand, and Stalin on the other. Polpot and Prabhakaran are mere images of those horrific individuals. The rise of Tamil Nationalism and Sinhala nationalism in the 1930s copied the events in Hitalrian Europe. Both Banadaranike and Ponnambalam were adulated as “Pocket Hitlers” by their respective admirers in the 1930s. The violence of the Eelam wars was launched by the communalism unleashed by Ponnambalam and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, and picked up in a more intense form by the Tamil Arasu Kadchi with its push for ethnic exclusivity in the “exclusive Tamil Homeland” from which Muslims and Sinhalese were to be driven out. The tamil version of the ITAK 1949 Maradana declaration has to be read to understand the uncompromising militancy and Eelamism of the so-called “Federal party”. It pitted a mere 10% of the people (minority tamils) against a 75% majority Sinhalese, totally blind to the fact that such a conflict will cause enormous violence to the minority. They knew that the suffering will not be inflicted on their children who will live and get educated in Colombo or abroad. It was the children of the poor tamils that were used as cannon fodder.

    This unfortunately had the support of Christian extremism, not only then, but even today, with father Emmanuel claiming that the LTTE were foot soldiers of Christ, just as European antisemitism and nationalism were based on the horrific legacy of the Bible!

    The Other violent movement of the country came from the Bolshevik Leninists who also copied the western models of Europe, and tried to create a revolution using the urban masses of the country. They could never penetrate the Tamil society which was (and even today is) well sheathed in layers of casteism – that is, I refer to institutional discrimination where the Colombo Tamil leaders who own land in the North seek to continue to control the poor landless Tamils of the North. Marxian ideology was also fashioned on the Biblical myth of the clash between God (working class) and mammon (Capitalist), with the unbelievers and sinners put to death or annihilated, and ultimately consumed in hell fire, and achieving this end was justified by any means what ever. Thus came the persecutions of the colonialists who came with the Bible in one hand, and gun in the other.

    Basil Ferndo and other human-rights types write naive superficial analyses and fail to look at the under-lying socio-structural reasons as well as the in-grained Biblical justification of violence and Hindu Manu-Dharma justification of discrimination that tacitly accept the Tamil oligarchic control of our people by an under-hand network of leaders connected by kinship, land-ownership and caste, with the Sumanthirans and Wigneswarans nurtured in Colombo schools and Colombo social clubs.

    It has been fashionable to point to the “discrimination of the Tamils by the Sinhalese” to cover up the control of the poor Northerner by the Colombo Tamils, The discrimination that existed (and that still exists) in the North cannot be corrected without land redistribution. Instead they are talking about re-writing history, constitutional change, and past human-rights abuses of the government. At least 50% of the blame for the carnage, genocide or what ever should be put at the feet of the tamil leaders who in cold-blood militarily pitted a minority against a majority almost 10 times bigger, ensuring pure horror for our people for three decades.

    • 5

      Ok I agree that it was the fault of the Tamil leaders; they should have taken a blind-eye approach and allowed the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism to engulf the Tamils. If they had done so, no one would died and everybody will be Sinhala speaking and there is no issue. Why didn’t they think like you? You should have been around during 1930s to educate those Tamil leaders about the dangers that befallen on the Tamils!

      “…n a more intense form by the Tamil Arasu Kadchi with its push for ethnic exclusivity in the “exclusive Tamil Homeland” from which Muslims and Sinhalese were to be driven out.”

      This is news to me; can you point to single evidence to support this claim? Please do not point to LTTE ejecting the Muslim from Jaffna.

      “It pitted a mere 10% of the people (minority tamils) against a 75% majority Sinhalese, …”

      Can you confirm the percentage ratio when the ITAK was formed?

      By the way, I do agree with you that post SJVC, Amirthalingham was pandering with Tamil militancy!

    • 2

      Moreover, please also listen to the speech made by Prf. DS Dissanayaka:


      Why is language important to peoples; communal politics is not as simple as you have outlined. This is why a country like India had taken extreme care in symbols that are representing India!

  • 2

    Quote: Basil Ferndo and other human-rights types write naive superficial analyses and fail to look at the…………..

    O’Manoharan… this basil F’do types together with KPJ, Illangamuwa are just singing for their supper.
    They are capable of selling even the dear ones for their supper.

  • 2

    I blame the Tamil leaders that at the time of independence from Britain in 1948 they shoud have followed Jinnah of Pakistan and asked for a
    separate state. This is something that they should have insisted on, after all prior to 1803 there were three kingdoms. There was a Tamil kingdom ruled by Sangilian In Jaffna.
    The so called Tamil leaders trusted the Singhalese that they would be fair by the Tamils and also because they were
    concerned about their properties in Colombo and estates. These leaders should have realized this when the Up country
    Tamils were disenfranchised.That to me was the beginning of making SL a Buddhist Sinhala country.What we see now is a progression for the ultimate fulfillment and the creation of a Singala state.

  • 1

    ok other news of the day a 15 foot anaconda living at the zoo swallowed he 12 foot mate . :)

    • 0

      And further, according to Dr Nonis…’The Kelani Ganga near Kitulgala has fast headwaters and rapids ideal for white-water rafting (from November to April only), with names such as Virgin’s Breast, Head Chopper, Killer Fall, Rib Cage and Slot and Drop’…..

    • 1

      Abhaya, some NGOs do that to their mates, not to procreate but just to survive.

  • 0

    So much so, Sri Lanka in a short term of time, meaning since independence, have becomes past masters in the art of killing. Imagine how many people have just disappeared into thin air.

    I agree we are so indifferent now to death in Sri Lanka. The politicians turn a blind eye, the police are not interested and on the rare occasion it goes to court the judges are also apathetical. Even the UN has become unresponsive and seems helpless in stopping mass murder.

    It is easy to blame politicians. But politicians are politicians and will exploit anything to their advantage. As long as people hang on to all age old differences, politicians of all colours will exploit and thrive on such differences. They will encourage killing and directly engage in organised killing and will make political mileage out of such killings.

    A secular Sri Lankan government; a government free from having to pander to disparate religious, language and cultural sensitivities and the exaggerated emotional claptrap that accompanies such differences; a government that respects and applies universal human rights among all its people is the only way out of this killing quagmire.

    Until such time, killing will produce the most desirable outcome for all governments.

    • 0

      BBS rep hope the LTTE rump is paying you well

  • 0

    Sure appreciate your thoughts and feelings with the Katusa and am intrigued to know why you chose the Katusa. The reason for my query is that when I was working at the Poththode HF wireless receiving station of the Overseas Telecom Service in 1964-65 a Katusa used fearlessly to come very close my area of work and undergo many colour changes whilst remaining still which I suspect were probably due to both internal and external factors that may have affecting it and I used to identify it with myself and even told so to some of my colleagues.

    Thereafter from March 65 I was stationed at the Kotugoda OTS Transmitting station and was transferred back to Poththode in March-April 71. Not 100 % sure if it was the same Katusa was there again in the same place and I remarked about this to the Office Assistant Mr Van Twest who is no more but he gave me sound advice that my life could be danger where I could be made to disappear and the blame shifted to the then so-called Che Guevara insurrection. I took is advice and vacated my post for nearly 4 months and was eventually transferred to the Colombo Multiplex control room. A few months after I was back working for the OTS with ministerial influence wielded by the then Kilinochi MP Mr Anathasangaree with the P & T Minister Kumarasuriyar.

    Within a few months of my return to the OTS, Karma caught up with the then chief of the OTS who died a natural death, I was told much exacerbated by the so-called holy ash or Veepudhi from Sai Baba to cure him. He was in his late 30’s or early 40’s. The source of this conflict was over my lack of whole-hearted cooperation in opposing the politically sponsored transfer of a colleague of mine who lived closed to this wireless but worked in the Colombo OTS.

    My BSA 3.5 litre mobike was severed in such a manner that had I not been vigilant I could have ridden it to my death or survived as a survived as a para or quadriplegic life thereafter. This may also shed some light on our political ethos even then when SWRD’s wife returned to power. Even then one was not safe or secure be it from within or without the political establishment.

    Would appreciate hearing on your choice of the Katusa.

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