By Emil van der Poorten –
One can but hope that when the reader reaches the end of this piece it will not leave them wringing their hands in helplessness but provide at least a modicum of hope for the future of a land which promised so much when we first became independent in 1948.
The church-bombings and subsequent security force responses have been widely enough covered to make any lengthy reference to them redundant. However, the simple question that all those in authority have to answer to the people of this country is, “Why after the fact, when there is ample evidence that the information about what was going on in a country where no one can keep a secret was pretty much in the public domain? Were all those who bore the responsibility for safeguarding our security too busy stuffing their pockets – and I don’t seek to draw any political separation lines in that regard – to deal with a nation’s security? Or was it the firm establishment of a culture of indifference to the public good that was to blame? Either explanation is totally and absolutely unacceptable.
A knee-jerk response to the current situation that is on the horizon is the elevation of one who makes no pretence to democratic practice, promising only a removal of the “menace of violence and mayhem and the restoration of order,” whatever that ‘order’ ultimately proves to be, whether or not they include white-van disappearances, executions in broad daylight in high security zones in sight of check points, mass graves with 300+ bodies in the Central Province and other atrocities too numerous to mention.
The preceding scenario is the single most dangerous response from a nation, understandably, desperate for a means of dealing with what was seen to be a clear and imminent danger that descended upon it.
While it might seem like an attempt to drain the swamp when one is up to one’s (….) in alligators, it is essential that we do not fall into the trap of not seeing the wood for the trees, if I might mix my metaphors. To do so would only bring upon ourselves an even worse fate than the one that faces us right now, if that is possible.
Analyzing what confronts us in the way of politicians on the current scene would constitute an appropriate start.
There are people in the current government who do appear to have unsullied personal reputations, many of them with the intelligence to deliver to this nation a modicum of decent and principled governance. They need to be recognized by every possible means and that is not an impossible task given the number of people with widely accepted credentials who write on a regular basis for publication. Promote these individuals, irrespective of formal political affiliation because the traditional lines of “left” and “right” in the matter of political philosophy don’t appear to exist any longer in any event.
Organize peaceful public demonstrations in support of amity among all groups not espousing racial or religious superiority. Seek and celebrate commonalities among all sectors of the larger Sri Lankan community, something that will take a degree of organizational skill but will not fail for lack of support because, without the shadow of a doubt, the vast majority of Sri Lankans support the philosophy of communal and religious amity.
While the people of conscience and concern are there, what it is going to take is a dedicated effort to harness their energies in the single most important task that has ever faced this nation. I do not say this lightly because the ugly monster of racial/communal/religious superiority has never raised its head so high in our history since independence. I daresay, not even at the height of the JR Jayewardene-generated anti- Tamil pogrom of the eighties or the equally vicious, Prabhakaran-driven response that followed.
Incidentally, if any reader decides that Mr.P provoked Mr. JRJ, it still does not make the events any less evil or unacceptable, then or now.