By Vishwamithra –
“The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.” ~Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays
Three hundred plus dead, more than five hundred injured. The Easter Sunday Massacre claimed many lives, destroyed many families and disturbed many neighborhoods and communities. The fading memories of the 30-year scourge will haunt and visit upon Sri Lankan psyche for many more years to come. Yet an event of this magnitude cannot and should not be looked upon in isolation. The context, social, cultural and political, is even more significant than the event itself. What is the ultimate objective of the event? Who gains most and who loses most by the event? Is there, as always is, a political agenda behind the conception, planning and eventual execution of the event? How was the wherewithal necessary for all three phases of the event- conception, planning and execution- and the sophistication associated with the three phases of the massacre, made available to those who possessed the evil genius to complete it to a sinister end.
Analysis is paralysis. So they say. But failing to cut through the veneer and penetrate into the core and peel away layer after layer of superficial coating would help us all, if we possess the necessary discipline and patience. One needs education and sophistication of organized mind to resolve issues of modern day complexities. Ordinary minds simply cannot see it, leave alone understand it and make amends.
Coordination of nearly eight attacks at eight different locations which were geographically far apart from each other, except of course the three Colombo Hotels- Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand- requires planning way ahead of time, a minimum of three to six months, access to the local human resources, infrastructure, safe-houses of the Intelligence genre, materials to make and put together explosive devices, transport them on time for the eventual explosion, makeup for those who execute the suicidal killings and of course, the spiritual and religious fanaticism and the training and rehearsals, all these pieces of terror architecture do not come easy to an unsophisticated and untrained craftsman.
In short, national security of a nation was shattered beyond recognition, and it had to happen, either by design or accident, when the commander-in-chief, the craftsman, was outside the shores of the land.
President of the country is no mean job; its fundamental function is to provide safety and security to the citizenry of the country; upholding the intrinsic value of the Constitution, swearing allegiance to defending and protecting the motherland needs to be held over and above petty personal animosities and political differences. Complete lack of awareness of the grave responsibility of protecting a nation is a very serious deficiency. That serious deficiency was in vivid display by our commander-in-chief. His unwillingness to trust his own Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers is a total failure on the part of the Executive. His failure to share the information he is purported to have received two weeks ahead of the massacre is unpardonable. Yet the blame game would not make us any richer in ideas, nor would it make us any wiser.
If, on the other hand, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) decided to pay us a visit of the deadly kind, we must be ready; we must be prepared hereinafter, for the ISIS national boundaries evaporate; for wielding of arms and ammunition, such boundaries don’t exist. ISIS does not consist of semi-trained guerilla fighters of the Al Fatah, nor are they products of ill-trained armies of Yasser Arafat. ISIS consists of educated, motivated (however ill-motivated maybe) and a sophisticated band of men and women whose singular aim is to sabotage whatever they perceive as enemies of their Allah and would spare no effort to gain those aims.
To protect her peoples and be prepared for all eventualities of a brutal massacre of the sort we saw on Easter morn, April 21, 2019, our ruler(s) must be equally inquisitive and or even more sophisticated in his (or their) mindset. Simplicity is not being servile to the traditions of the soil alone; simplicity could be dangerous in the absence of a penetrative mind. Simplicity is not imposed upon a person by his lack of education; it is not being non-studious and non-bookworms. Simplicity of mind sets one free of all encumbrances of mind-destroying superstitions and narrow thoughts that Tagore so vividly described in Geetanjali, his masterpiece collection of poems.
That misplaced simplicity seems to have confined the mind of our Executive; it seems to have made him a prisoner of his own making, a character of a ruler which could be utterly dangerous and hazardous to the country’s advance and accommodation amongst the global family of communities. Appearing before the country and making a confession of some sort would not vindicate the Executive; it would not explain away his being unwilling to share crucial information of ‘intelligence’ with his Prime Minister and the rest of the Cabinet of Ministers. That is simplicity gone berserk; it’s simplicity of an unwise mind and even an untrained mindset. Because even more sinister things are yet to come.
Sri Lanka seems to be in the grip of suffocation; a thirty-year war and its successful conclusion have not taught us a single lesson or our rulers have refused to learn from the harsh realities of war and destruction man could be visited upon by evil machinations of a dedicated army of killers of the ‘Jihad’ or whatever it might be. There is no excuse; there should not be any reasoning that would justify or pardon the callous disregard for sensitive and delicate information to be shared within a conclave of people’s representatives whose responsibility it is to protect and defend their people.
It is not one ruler who is responsible for these irresponsible statecraft; scores of our leaders, from D S Senanayake up to the current President, have all contributed will nilly to this dismal state of motherland. Every corner and each thoroughfare will now be grounds for suspicion; every five-star hotel and place of religious worship would be a potential ground for massacre and killings. The points of contact, so to speak, of the perpetrators of the heinous crimes committed by those who committed them reveal the degree of sophistication. On Easter Sunday, they attacked the Christian/Catholic churches at the morning mass time; then they synchronized it with attacks on the five-star hotels in Colombo at the breakfast time. Non-Muslim religious devotees on the one hand and tourists and super-rich in Colombo who visit the five-star hotels in Colombo for their Easter breakfast on the other may be an easy target to hit.
However, all these human follies and mundane errors cannot be held as a shield against legitimate and valid rancor of men and women of the ordinary kind. If those who fear to tread the usual paths and go to work to earn their living decide to stay at home, then those who committed these unspeakable criminal executions shall have prevailed in the end. If our ruler/s places his/their personal interests and preferences over and above those of the nation, then we need to look for other leaders who would not subordinate their people to narrow in-fights with his Cabinet colleagues. Such behavior is not only petty and narrow; it is indeed dangerous and perilous to the national cause of freedom, liberty and prosperity.
It’s time we thought outside the box, as the cliché goes. We had better look for leaders who place the country first and everything else second. The luxuries and comforts of ‘Office’ may have deadened the senses of our Executive; complexities and convolution of issues may have posed a challenge to an unsophisticated mind far too frequently and far too soon; that is the burden of leadership, the Executive alone should carry. No way can he escape that reality.
Yet who gains from these attacks on Easter Sunday in 2019? Politically the government in power loses and it loses badly, and it cannot be helped. Containing the damage is the order of the day. Yet as to who gains is anyone’s guess. Those who preach discipline over freedom may think that their day has come. Yes, your day has come, to go that is. Some even have gone to a not-so-unbelievable end of putting two and two together and making it five, saying that the vicarious beneficiary of any uncertainty is the one who protrudes a false sense of stability by proposing neo-fascism. The danger looming large is really that- the sinister hand of fascism lurking in the dark.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org