By Vishwamithra1984 –
“Through me you go into a city of weeping; through me you go into eternal pain; through me you go amongst the lost people” ~Dante Alighieri, The Inferno
All indications of certain societal decay are present; the symptoms of a terminal sickness are frighteningly manifest in the body politic of the country. Yet no one, no physician, no surgeon, no psychiatrist or any other medical practitioner or a social scientist has diagnosed the illness. Every signal is pointing towards a cancerous malady in the making, the progressive indices of which have been evident for quite some time but has evaded studied investigations by any expert. I have been telling this for quite some time and written extensively on the subject but there does not seem to be any slowing down of the trend. While I am not pretending to be listened to or taken notice of, the natural progression of the process has been signifying every possible signal that the country is heading in the wrong direction, not only in the sphere of economics and politics but more so in the moral and societal degeneration aspects. Dante’s Inferno seems to have entrapped Sri Lanka as one whole entity, leaving the most gruesome punishments to politicians and those who consume national treasures and collective coffers of the country as if they are their personal bequest.
The evident acts of undiluted corruption, nepotism at every level of political administration and especially in spheres in which intelligence, brain power and education should supersede family connections, crime advancing at alarmingly exponential rates which seem to have broken every measurable scale, religious and racial hatred increasing between communities and religions with no conceivable check and balance neither on the part of the Government nor on any civil or legal organization, are all pointing towards a cliff of social disarray and moral chaos. To quote Dante Alighieri himself, “the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
That is precisely why I’m angry and intense in these writings. Anger is a human folly but I may be pardoned by the reader for such self-professed anger, for I have seen so much of cruelty on man against man, politician against politician and academic against academic firstly during the 1971 insurrection, then in the 1983 pogroms against Tamils, then in the ’87 – ’89 JVP massacres and lastly in the thirty-year war against the Northern terrorists. While there is no justification for any anger against any member of the human family, one invariably gets bogged down in a moral dilemma in which, as Dante said, one should not hesitate to take a side, whichever way, because being silent about what’s going on about you is a mortal sin.
The Aluthgama riots are the latest manifestation of the dark side of human quality that brings about all kinds of hallucinating emotions and in the process they have given birth to facilitators of sin and perpetrators of crime. To say it in any other conciliatory language is a bigger sin. To cover the sins, these merciless merchants of carnal injury have created their own whimsical slogans of patriotism and faith. The Land, the race and the faith have emerged as a macabre sketch of hypocrisy and insincerity.
Time after time it has been demonstrated beyond any doubt that what has been happening in the country, particularly in the field of religious and racial relations among the varied races and faith groups, is a bogus expression of false values and inflated tenets. In order to attach some importance and some kind of definite identity to an organized group of rootless individuals, the land, the race and the faith continue to render incalculable value that cannot be substituted and the susceptible masses continue to gulp down their greedy throats whatever is preached and pontificated from the top of political platforms. Some of those who profess the priceless values and eternal truths of the religion that has brought immense peace of mind and serenity of the sublime over the last two and a half thousands of years- the teachings of Buddha- it is alleged, are leading lives of disgusting tastes that include, among others, perverse and cruel treatment of spouses and deranged lifestyles. Yet these disturbing signals are continuing to be ignored, sometimes countenanced to an unpardonable degree by those who have the ability to think and take meaningful and drastic action upon that thinking.
Some savant has said somewhere that the concept of God is a commodity that is fairly easy to sell, provided that concept is held in a belief by the buyer as to be handled and shaped by experts who profess the pluses of believing it and minuses of disbelieving it. If on the other hand, it dawns on the consumer-public that the whole dance and drama of religious violence and racial bigotry was a product of some masterful orchestration by a set of diabolical individuals aimed at gaining political advantage over a weak Opposition, then the buyer might show some remorse and ask pertinent and penetrating questions which are essentially aimed at probing the sincerity of the seller and then eyes might open which have been shut for a long time.
When that day would dawn is the sixty four million-dollar question. Neither the leaders nor the followers seem to be ready for the occasion; neither party has realized the enormity of the problem and they have simply chosen to disdain and discount all the signals and premonitions either through sheer ignorance or uncanny callousness. They hurl themselves at the gods of impurity and Satans of hatred. But they still manage to convince the kind devotees that theirs is the purest form of faith and theirs is the shortest cut to Moksha. When immersed in this convoluted pool of murky beliefs and faint hopes, those who are inherently lazy and half-hearted in their approach to life in general and its circumstances in particular, tend to drift away with the general flow. In short, that is the painful saga of our beloved land.
A proud people who spent an unbelievable number of hours and years in sculpting the wonders of massive Stupas to quench their thirst for inner peace and immense reservoirs to water their starving fields are finding themselves entrapped and enslaved to a phony web of beliefs and dogmas whose appeal is yet very enchanting and magnetic. Bereft of informed data and intelligent analysis of that data, the followers have chosen a path of least resistance and most absurdity. In their own petty and puny minds, the preachers stand as giants of immense scale though the rhetoric and slogans ring a different bell, sometimes akin to a call to arms!
The absurdity of the situation is unprecedented. Its timing is immaculate and the levels are so shallow. If the great majority of our people are not convinced at a very early stage of this ridiculous drama, the merchants of religion and charlatans of faith would ultimately triumph; the will of the people will be interpreted as a belief emanating from the very bowels of man, unquestionable and undoubted. A weeping nation is sitting at the altar of religious faith and racial superiority like helpless children and a bundle of forlorn humanity. Leaders would not only look the other way, they will intentionally misguide them for their own use. A hapless caravan of human garbage will tread its weary way until the end comes and the end will be utterly destructive and the effects harsh.
Nepotism, corruption, incompetence and arrogance of power which constitute all the badges well earned by the current regime are there for everyone to behold. And the regime is very proudly displaying them. Yet we have chosen to look the other way.
None is so blind as those who refuse to see.
*The writer may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org