By Mass L. Usuf –
If one thinks positively there are multiple ways through which we as one nation can live together in peace and harmony. Positive thinking entails objectivism and accepting real facts as real. This approach facilitates commonality as far as the objective is concerned. The part of the national anthem “Eka mavekuge daru kela” – All are children of one mother – provides objectivity equating Sri Lanka to the mother and all of its citizens as children of that mother. We have to pause for a while and ponder on the deep meaning of these words. When we sing these words, we must reflect on the brotherhood of our nation. Each and every one – Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Malay, Burgher etc. – are equal members of this national brotherhood. On the other side, just as the children of the same parents see themselves united in the parents we, as citizens of Sri Lanka, must see our unity in our motherland.
There are several kinds of brotherhoods. For example, a grouping of legal eagles creates a legal fraternity because of their mutual interest in the profession. The congregation belonging to a particular church forms a brotherhood by identifying themselves with that church. There is also the concept of brotherhood in humanity encompassing the entirety of the human beings. Such a brotherhood transcends beyond nationality, language, caste, creed, race, religion, colour and culture. The Quran illustrates this brotherhood in humanity as follows:
“O, mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognise one another.” (Chapter 49 Verse 14).
Note that the Quran in the above verse is not addressing the Believers of Islam but the entire mankind. It specifically states that man/woman has been created from a single male and a female. Therefore, every human being is a brother/sister to each other. The verse also recognises the divisions in humanity and cautions that such distinctions are only for the purpose of recognising one another.
When reflecting on the origins of man and the fact that humanity flows from a single pair, differentiation of any form whatsoever becomes irrelevant. There is simply no superiority of one over the other. Logically, there cannot be such a proposition. However, there can be differentiation in the make up of the people for example in the nature of colour, race or tribe. The objective for this make up is to know each other and not to consider any race or tribe as inferior. The universal characteristic of man remains intact.
The principle of the brotherhood of humanity presents itself as a forceful argument for all Sri Lankans to come together as one nation without any form of discrimination.
Our national anthem in some way relates to the natural law of the universality of mankind. A sincere reflection of it opens up a maze of possible interpretations. In context, each of us as citizens of this country would have sung the following lines innumerable times –
“Eka mavekuge daru kela bavina
yamu yamu wee nopama
Prema vadamu sama bheda durara da”
Ill-will, hatred, strife all ended,
In love enfolded, a mighty nation
Marching onward, all as children of one Mother,
This composition benchmarks the promotion of unity and the dispensation of negativity in no uncertain terms. The esoteric sense in this formula beckons every person worthy of citizenry in this country to an introspective test of self-assessment. Are you worthy of being a child of this mother Lanka? If so, subject yourself to the test of eligibility for citizenship. In this way, the ones who uphold these values can live as a nation, in the spirit of a single brotherhood.
Any child of this Mother, be a Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Malay, Burgher etc. who have sung these lines and, yet, harbours prejudicial ideas, cultures fear by spreading false information, cause hatred in the minds of others and assumes superiority over another group of people fails in this eligibility test. Not only that, all those children, the Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Malay, Burgher etc. who have paid homage to these words and, then, condones or turn a blind eye to the gross distortion of truth, corruption of the minds, perversion of another religion, demeaning and humiliating another group of children are pure and simple hypocrites. Finally, all those Sinhalese, Tamil, Moor, Malay, Burgher etc. who have sung the national anthem and remain silent on the face of ill-will, hatred and strife perpetrated by those who have lost eligibility and the hypocrites are pure and simple soulless creatures.
“Whosoever is angry, harbours hatred, and is reluctant to speak well of others (discredits the good of others), perverted in views, deceitful — know him as an outcast.” (Vasala Sutta: Discourse on Outcasts).
Arguably, a psychological marker may be identified originating from usage and habit caused by language affinity and Buddhism. This is an unasserted normative assumption of correlating the national anthem with only the Sinhalese. Most of the Tamils did not know what they were uttering. Even the Muslims who do not understand the Sinhala language did not know what they were saying. Therefore, children of one mother, would subconsciously be interpreted to mean as referring only to the Sinhalese. This is a purely innocent assumption. In a practical sense, this assumption would negatively and unrealistically mean others are aliens. Language bias intertwined with the race component, thus contributing to fissures between the Tamil and Muslim communities. Little wonder there was dissatisfaction when it was proposed to sing the National Anthem in the Tamil language. Viewed probably, as a competing race and a challenge to the dominance of the Sinhala language.
People in this transitory world are so engrossed in materialism that they have strayed away from spiritualism. Those who are within the realm of spiritualism bury themselves into isolation straying away from Moral Universalism (the position that some moral values can be applied universally to everyone regardless of their personal opinion, or the majority opinion of their culture). All the world religions that are practised in Sri Lanka viz. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism has an interwoven common thread of morality. Building bridges based on the common ground of universal morality is another way of establishing unity among the various communities. The values of each religion can be classified broadly into Core Values and Shared Values. While the Core Values are left untouched and respected, the Shared Values can be directed towards negating ill-will, strife and hatred.
One more way to defeat the ultra-nationalist extremism is for the majority of the right-thinking Sinhala Buddhists, Tamil Hindus and Christians and the Muslims to unite under the principles of Moral Universalism. Characteristics such as race, culture or language are excluded from moral judgements. Social pressure must be brought to bear collectively upon these misguided people and, to starve them from being acknowledged or recognised.
“Not by birth is one an outcast;
Not by birth is one a brahman.
By deed one becomes an outcast,
By deed one becomes a brahman.”
(Vasala Sutta: Discourse on Outcasts).