By Sarath de Alwis –
“Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.” ~ “Epitaph on a tyrant” – W.H. Auden
Events outside ‘Temple Trees’ on Monday demonstrate that a patronage network built over a decade has some residual energy left for a last ‘hurrah’.
Tyrants don’t ride into the sunset. Tyrants don’t retire. Tyrants don’t walk away quietly.
How do tyrants fall?
People put up with tyranny for years. Suffering tyranny often becomes an acquired habit. That is what happened to Sri Lanka until we ran out of dollars. When deprived of essentials needed to survive people were driven mad. The infuriated populace demanded an end to tyranny. They chant “The Tyrant Must Go.”
Now the Tyrant has demonstrated that he is no hurry to go.
The tyrant doesn’t hear the voice of the people. The tyrant lives in a fantasy world of his own creation. It is this fantasy that make tyrants finally fall.
Fantasy compels tyrants build ports that ships do not call on. Tyrants build stadiums in desolate places where no one visits. Tyrants build towers that cry out to the world of irrational absurdity that only warped minds could conceive.
With these insanely preposterous fantasies the tyrant or the tyrannical family has built a Shangri-La that solid earth cannot hold in place. The Tyrant and the Tyrant family will finally perish when the edifice of the make-believe Shangri-La will collapse on them.
What unfolds now in our streets is a simple truth that both Sajith Premadasa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake must pay heed to.
In politics leadership matters. It is the most consequential attribute for the success of a political movement or a party. It is only a demonstrated united leadership that will convince the tyrant that the merry go round is slowly grinding to a halt.
Leadership is not preaching high morals. Leadership is about realization of objectives that the citizenry demands as urgent and immediate, It is a collective leadership that determines where to go and how fast we should go.
There is a tide in the country. It is an impersonal force. It has no patience to appease the ambitions of politicians. The urgent imperative is to remove the tyrant. It does not require political calculation. It only needs the unselfish commitment to swim with the popular tide that has been building steadily for the last six weeks or more.
Those who resist tyranny must decide which side of the barricade they must stand in.
‘GotaGoGama’ to my mind is the post-independence constituent assembly that we never had. ‘GotaGoGama’ tells us something. When people wakeup, when they begin to exercise judgement, political manipulation ends.
The Rajapaksa family has been manipulating our public psyche with the active collusion of a saffron soldiery. This Saffron Soldiery has been effectively obliterated by the young generation with a demonstrated disdain for voodoo beliefs and an equally passionate commitment to science and reason.
Many decent, well meaning, intelligent, educated people voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa and then for his brother Gotabaya. It seems that while running out of dollars we have now arrived at the distilled truth of the Rajapaksa kleptocracy.
Yes. Sixty-nine lakhs wanted a strong leader. They were not stupid or uneducated. Most of them were not corrupt either.
If they were reasonably informed at the time they would have voted differently.
But a majority of them were mesmerized into the belief that a Cobra surfaced from the nether world bearing a message that a redeemer would soon arrive. The prelate who proposed that preposterous proposition was rewarded with the chancellorship of a national university.
There is no doubt that we are in turbulent times. In these uncertain times, human relations must be carefully nurtured. We have no precise road map to determine the best course of action.
That does not suggest that there is no such thing as right or wrong. There is the moral option as opposed to the immoral in which we are currently immersed in.
The young people in GotaGoGama believe that science and technology will lead us to sanity.
While most people are generally decent, there are, unfortunately, some nasty people around, including some who are cruel, greedy, selfish and dishonest.
Mahinda Rajapaksa demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that he is in command of a political machine made up of a large number of political operatives who are power hungry, greedy, dishonest, and as Monday’s events conclusively demonstrated absolutely gutless.
It is time for the opposition to distinguish between disagreements over principles and political goals. Dislodging the Rajapaksa family calls for a unified strategy. A willingness to compromise and patience to arrive at the best tactic is not a luxury but a necessity.