29 September, 2020

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Fleadom Of Explession

By Arjuna Seneviratne –

Arjuna Seneviratne

Everyone knows the story of little Johnny and the flea.

Regardless of what sort of essay the teacher tells the class to write, this formidable brat always finds a way to very quickly tie the assigned topic through some marginal link to the flea and then proceeds to blast out his spiel on that redoubtable species and its critical importance to every single reason behind every single reason that underscores every single reason why Johnny, his peers, his educators and his examiners, his family, his community, his town, his country and his planet should or shouldn’t live. The local equivalent of Little Johnny of course, as everyone knows, is Amden and the story is “makkage kathaava”.  In fact, when someone constantly harps on a single idea regardless of the idea he/she is responding to or its direction or its worth or its relevance, we, in Sri Lanka say “mekata one uge mekkage ellena” (He just wants to spin his flea) or PMS (“Predetermined Mekka Spinning” – yeah, it was not what you were thinking but it is similarly annoying).

I was recently reading an article on Colombo Telegraph by Vangisha Gunasekera on the global problem of climate instability (to which, by the way, Sri Lanka contributed almost nothing) and found, both to my astonishment and day-long amusement that one of the responses was on Weliweriya (you see, the pollution of water bodies in Weliweriya are just as important to planetary climate stability as Amden’s mekka is to a fish right?). Another was just classic “what we are doing to mother earth at Weliweriya and other places is slow murder and therefore Sri Lankan women are fleeing to the middle east”! What the….?!

Let me clarify that “what the…”  What the whole of Sri Lanka has done to mother earth over the last 100 years is not even a blip on the climate horizon in comparison to what China and the USA do to it in a day. LOL. A piece I wrote on the same subject at a global level had someone responding with uppercase statements about Sinhalese kicking out Tamils and Muslims and watch out… the Christians next.  Huh?  I didn’t even get what this guy’s breed of mekka is or what sort of fish he might want hosting it. It certainly was not the nature of things or the things of nature but I suppose that’s his nature.

Was this specific to environment issues I asked myself. Answer: NO! PMS was evident in responses to practically every post, every article, every response to news, every new Sri Lankan film, every new song, every new piece of art, every civil initiative; regardless of whether the subject was violence against women, pharmaceuticals, beverages, milk products, buildings, or food crops. Whatever the creative, academic, research or governance outcome, I saw broadly, three basic species of mekkas based on their longevity: a) the flavor of the last month mekka (Weliweriya), b) the flavor of the last decade mekka (the regime) and c) the flavor of the last half century mekka (racial and religious differentiation).  All of these pointed to a queen mekka: politics. It seems as if people are spinning off or spawning variations of these breeds at a rather dizzying pace – at least on the interactive components of communications instruments.

Was this really true? Was Sunil Perera’s classic “Uncle Johnson’s Jubilee” and its two lines about politics the actuality? Well, no. Not really. The political mekka is the outcome of a desperate search on the part of human beings to find a target for one of three questions: a) “Who is to blame?”, b) “Who can I say tricked me into doing this?”, c) Why can’t I indulge in the same nasty things that I hate to see others doing?”.

What people are doing is finger-pointing and politics is the best vehicle there is to engage in the age old trick of shouting “LOOK THERE, THAT MAN HAS A KNIFE” while he quietly slits the throat of the man standing next to him with his own knife. Regardless of the target, everyone seems hell bent on engaging in digit-stabs that are then countered by the target with similar digit-jabs. Be the perpetrators the people, the regime, foreign powers, weliweriya or Zoroastrianism.

At one level this is simply a mean way of externalizing issues but at another level who can really blame people for this? When people, in the main, indulge in the worst possible human failings as a matter of preference, one of the few ways of reducing internal frustration is to scream in the direction of the nearest external entity that can be hauled in by the scruff of its neck and scaped into the reason why they get our goat. Be that scaped goat a journalist, the USA, the regime or the pollution of water bodies in micro-geographies. Who cares that five decades of agrochemicals have baked our nation’s earth into toxic mudpack? More to the point, who, amongst us who use PMS as a way of life would even want to? One cannot really spin one’s mekka over dozens of regimes or 300 different bad policy modifications can one? One needs a temporally manageable window and an easily identified regimen of action for this and every “current regime” and the conflict between that regime and those that elected it is ideal for the purpose. For everyone. Not just the citizens or the politicians or other “concerned parties”. Not just in Sri Lanka. Across the world. Regardless of whether or not they have little or no role to play in the myriad different ideas that are aired in public forums from nature to notion to nation. Forget reason. It is of no moment to a circus where everyone indulges themselves in flea market entropy.

Take our current regime for example. The world and her husband are pointing accusatory fingers at it and it is reciprocating by pointing accusatory fingers at the world and his wife. People get on either one of these band wagons and fling their fingers all over the darned place and mostly, all they do is end up poking their own eyes out in the process. This is not a tragedy because one really doesn’t need “vision” to get one’s tickles via the biggest mekka of them all – the one that lives just a few miles away from the end of each extended index finger. The only negative upshot of PMS is that there will be a lot of bemused article writers wondering what sort of weird lens these people have fitted to the spectacle frames carefully straddling their non-existent visual organs.

Why do this? Well, we must go back to why Amden did it to find a reasonable answer. Amden knew nothing about most things that were going on in the class. Amden didn’t want to know. Amden didn’t think it is either sufficiently important or edifying to know. Amden didn’t believe for one moment that paying attention in class would help him in engaging in the “attara qualities” that gives him the most joy. What Amden knew very clearly was that he knew something about the mekka. Not a whole lot but just enough for him to make a case for “knowledge of the mekka”. That mekka empowered him. That mekka rationalized everything that ever needed rationalizing for him. Therefore, Amden would grab onto this micro-critter and belabor everyone with it with a tenacity that makes people fall all over the floor laughing their rear ends off. Well Amden doesn’t give a rat’s rear. All Amden is interested in is getting his flea to bite everyone else’s rear. Regardless of what sort of seat the owners of those rears have parked them on.

Backward.

*Other articles by the same author could be found at http://arjunareflections.blogspot.co.uk/

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Latest comments

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    Arjuna:

    You wrote this article in your mindset hoping that others would understand your way of reasoning.

    the way I understand it is, what you are talking is the problem here is.. human greed is dominating every where and screwing up everything. whether it is the global warming, weliweirya water problem is or egotistical and greedy politikas, one factor is common. That is the human greed. It is simply to earn a few dollars or rupees they sacrifice every thing. CORRECT ?

    the next point you say is we humans have to reflect ourselves and examine ourselves. Because, we all are used to EXTERNALIZE every thing and we don’t understand or we don’t want to understand it is the way we look at every thing that causes the problem. Am I correct ?

    IF I am right, for me all leads to Buddhism ?

    Anyway, global warming is true. It is partly, the earth cycle or the Planetary system cycle and partly human intervention or the human fault. what ever it is humans will suffer on that. Watch for it.

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      Jim, well, I agree, the teachings of the Buddha can be used to solve a lot of internal problems internally – sure. However, in this context, if everything is tied to Buddhism (as opposed to the teaching which can congruence in other similar teachings as well), then one is once more in the realm of the Mekka :).

      • 0
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        Arjuna:

        Middle Path in every thing.

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    Arjuna, when you said “What the whole of Sri Lanka has done to mother earth over the last 100 years is not even a blip on the climate horizon in comparison to what China and the USA do to it in a day”, was that just a metaphorical statement to say SL contribution is likely to be relatively very small, or was it based on factual data. I am presuming it was the first, but if I am mistaken, would you be able to share the source(s) of data on SL pollution, emissions etc. thanks!

  • 0
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    Fleadom Of Explession? Your slip is showing.

    • 0
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      The puns were intended *winks*

      • 0
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        You mean like:

        A flea and a fly in a flue,
        Who didn’t know what to do,
        Said the flea let us fly,
        Said the fly let us flee,
        So they flew thru a flaw in the flue

  • 0
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    ” What the whole of Sri Lanka has done to mother earth over the last 100 years is not even a blip on the climate horizon in comparison to what China and the USA do to it in a day. “

    This is probably true, but is irrelevant in terms of what is happening here with ‘Welieriya’ (as one example) and the poisoning on our groundwater in the North, North-Central and Uva regions. Our extremely fragile ‘Island Eco-system’ can only take so much and already evidence of this is manifest in the (ill)health and (un)wellbeing of folk in these areas – kidney malfunctions being just one of them. So let’s not take it lightly – as in comparison to the US and China.

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      Java, I am not saying that it is not either important or relevant. They most certainly are. However, the article where that comment was found was on global climate stress and the global thinking required to address it, not the highly localized issues that got spun off it :)

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        —global climate stress and global thinking…….

        global climate stress – that is only the peak of so many problems.

        Sink holes in Florida – because acidic water dissolving the calcium carbonate rocks underneath and excessive drawing of water from the water table.

        Acid rains – that damaged forests and water bodies

        invading countries destabilizing countries for cheaper resources and for commercial potential

        Only one percent of the world population hold over 43% of the $ 223 trillion total wealth. Richest two percent holds 50% of the total wealth. Richest 300 people has more than the poorest 3 billion people. Amidst foreign aids, $ 130 billion, by the developed countries to developing countries. But, the corporate culture, various trade related advantages gives away over two trillion dollars from developing countries to developed countries. Because of this the gap between poor people and the rich people has widened every before.

        We know communist theory failed. Now, it shows capitalism also has failed. IF above is the world’s condition if Europe, Britain and USA are bankrupt. Japan is not doing well too. So, what does it say about the present form of Capitalism. It had made 300 individuals who are filthy rich.

        Some whole continents, countries and billions of people are poor.

        What does it say ? Do we have to change the way the Capitalism operates.

        Watch this clip “http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uWSxzjyMNpU “

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          Jim, having battled global climate problems at the global level I know this: Any attempt to find solutions to them within the current socio-economic paradigms will fail because they caused the problems in the first place.

          I also battle aid and aid effectiveness at the same level and find that there is a natural congruence of the aid debate and the climate debate. No one has got either of those right and 2000+ debates and discussions per year at the global level simply proves that no one WANTS to get it right.

          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-politics-of-giving/

          You are right, the rich are super rich and the poor are terribly poor. Capitalism and communism have failed. So also other governance frameworks such as monarchism, socialism, conservatism, democracy, dictatorships etc.

          thanks for the video link, it brilliantly puts the “financial wealth” problem in perspective. Still, apart from the poorest of the poor (those who eat one meal every two days and who have less than 10 liters of the water per day) do live and their “life quality” does not stem from the acquisition of more material wealth but rather, through the accumulation of social wealth. This is no way means that wealth distribution (actually resource distribution) is not crucial for human survival but rather, that there are other systems that do ensure life on earth preserves despite of the hoarding of resources on the part of a few.

          One thing we can be sure of: sooner rather than later, all of this will explode in a cataclysmic disaster and those that survive will have the best shot at making the world work :)

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    Jim, there is a congruence on the part of the climate debate and the aid debate. Having engaged both at the global level, I know that these are defined by the fact that no one is serious about getting it right.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-politics-of-giving/

    Thanks for the youtube link. It brilliantly outlines the material wealth disparity. However, it is not the only measure of wealth. While not ignoring the fact that wealth distribution (indeed resource distribution as a whole) is critical, social wealth does allow the material poor to live quality lives and the biggest problem these days is that in many parts of the world, that social wealth is being compromised – by the materially wealthy and the politicians.

    As you point out, capitalism and communism have failed. So have many other “isms” and “acys”. One thing seems fairly certain:We are heading for a global cataclysm and those that survive it will probably have th best shot at making the world work for all beings.

  • 0
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    Thanks for the youtube link. It brilliantly outlines the material wealth disparity. However, it is not the only measure of wealth. While not ignoring the fact that wealth distribution (indeed resource distribution as a whole) is critical, social wealth does allow the material poor to live quality lives and the biggest problem these days is that in many parts of the world, that social wealth is being compromised – by the materially wealthy and the politicians.

    As you point out, capitalism and communism have failed. So have many other “isms” and “acys”. One thing seems fairly certain:We are heading for a global cataclysm and those that survive it will probably have th best shot at making the world work for all beings.

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