23 October, 2019

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Moving Away From War Mentality; What Can We Learn From Germany & World War II

By Kasun Kamaladasa

Kasun Kamaladasa

The reason I picked World War II to illustrate my message is because Sri Lankans did not experience the violence (directly) during the war and thus may not had formed extreme biases towards who or what was right and wrong. However, if you are a diehard Captain America fan, a Neo-Nazi or a Discovery Channel follower of the 90’s you most probably would have develop some biases.

“War does not determine who is right, only who is left”

It is impossible to say in any given situation who is indisputably right or wrong so it isn’t my intention to defend Hitler, endorse Stalin or excuse Winston Churchill. What I want is to discuss, our actions and policies of the past and present and how it could be manifesting as violence in society.

I used to be Discovery channel fanatic. I watched everything it had to offer history, science, travel, etc. Watching back to back episodes of World War II documentaries, I was convinced that the allies had single handedly, through vigor and cunning strategy defeated the “evil Germans”. Thinking back, I wonder if they even mentioned the Italians and Mussolini.

During my stay in Russia, I experienced seven celebrations of “День победы” (den pobedi) in five different cities in different parts of the country. It is the day Russia celebrates winning the World War II. There are dozens of songs, novels and cinema dedicated to remind what a glorious day it was but there is also a ceremony to morn all the soldiers that were killed. The celebrations included a military choir singing the National anthem of Russia (which is enthralling) and military parades that looked as they could hold an alien invasion at bay. I also heard the countless stories of the bravery that was told by drunk veterans, sober teachers, university friends and communist party activists. It never occurred to me to question whether the German invaders were also brave and righteous too.

Time passed by and in my final year, one of my friends introduced me to Russian Neo-Nazi (he was Aryan, not a Slavic). This person would insist that all the mistakes his Slavic friends did, are because of their inferiority as a race and if not for the American conspiracies and British invasion they would have taken over Russia. Later in life this encounter would help me realize Nazi-Germany and Neo-Nazi are two very different Ideologies made to seem like the same by pop-culture and probably KGB influence.

As years passed and I met more people away from the festivities that further clouded my judgment. I also found an interest in world history. I started realizing that there was much more to the victory of the war and even more to history.

So here is where things get little complicated.

History summary: I’m not a holocaust denier nor am I going to blindly believe in US/USSR propaganda that the world war was a fight between good and evil (and that the US or the USSR was the savior/s of the world). Some war crimes during the war are still under investigation and huge debates continue on to this day. World war II at the European front destroyed those countries. None of the countries that started the war ever benefited from it apart from the fact that they understood the price of hatred. If you look deep in to the history and circumstances Germany had plenty of good reasons for starting (or getting in to) the war, but the war didn’t do much for its salvation.

The war did however benefit the US and China to come to their current state of power. The US economy boomed due to the war and being US ally China got a seat at the Security council. Yet surprisingly enough even in the winning side there were some leaders who saw the problems of investing in war.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

For most part of my life I have without a doubt in my mind agreed with these words and have seen acts of violence and war as acts against humanity and its survival.

If you are a peaceful person you would probably agree with this too, if you are a radical/extremist then you might disagree pointing out it is not thieving if you are giving something that the world/ country/ majority/ spirituality/ your god (or whatever group you belong to) requires.

Reality: Societies, Cities and Civilizations grow and progress because of conflict1, so conflict in societies are not only inevitable but a necessity. The good thing is we do have the power to determine if we are going to build “missiles and tanks” or create “laws and means of communication” to resolve them. Conflict need not be violence, but violence is the most primal forms of conflict, requiring no intellect, very little creativity and costs us our lives.

Good vs Evil: From a very small age we are taught and conditioned to see two extremes and come to a judgment of who is wrong and who is right. Ask any small kid who the good person is in a picture and they will show a white person in a white dress who is smiling.

This has made it very easy for people to manipulate us and lie to us. Businesses, politicians, religions use this to deceive us or themselves. With time we come to a misconception that all “bad” entities should be harmed and destroyed.

That is why even years after the war, there are still people who try to say that it was OK to drop not one but two nuclear bombs on Japan or why people justify many crimes that proceeded the war in Germany during Allied and Soviet occupation.

Ending Hatred: Germany forgave the countless injustices that was done against It. Likewise many European countries forgave Germany for its aggressions…. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to ask ourselves how did these countries that had wars and misunderstandings for centuries, come together and build the world’s most peaceful nations?

Present day Germany: Is home to one of the most progressive and liberal societies world has ever seen. Considering the loss of 10% of their population, complete destruction of industries, loss of institutions and brain drain from some of the world’s top scientists just 75 years ago, this country has come a very long way. (Note: Reunification of East and West Germany happened a mere 30 years ago. It had half of the country stuck in poverty and soviet control)

After the war ended Germany worked really hard to build up alliances and breakdown it’s walls. Now it is without argument the most powerful country in the EU.

Germany has opened its doors to ~2 million refugees (and additional 200,000 each year) and most of them are Muslims (Those people every NEWS channel wants us to fear so they can bring in entertainment and suspense into our lives)

Being a country with 70% Christians, Germany does not force religion upon it’s children rather let them learn ethics in school instead, if they choose to do so.

Violence and Hate speech is considered illegal and uncivilized. Even Facebook and twitter is taxed for failing to censor hate speech (fines can go up to 50 million Euros).

Germany has a free education system for all higher studies and offers largest amount of research scholarships in the world. Having lots of different people with different cultures is a really good way to create understanding and harmony while building relationships with them.

Germany practices regulations rather than restrictions.

Autobahn (German Highway) has no speed limit but has all drivers following lanes properly. They have fewer accidents than in roads in our country and fever than in most developed countries.Prostitution is legal, allowing sex workers better access to education, health and safety. Patrons who might not otherwise have access to this basic need, gain a legal and safe way of fulfilment. (According to WHO reports German STD rates are lower than countries that have made prostitution illegal with the false pretest of controlling STDs)

German schools have no uniforms and has allowed freedom of expression for children (It also allows people to accept people who are different from them from childhood). They have not become disobedient nor have they started to wear golden dresses to school and made poor people shy away from school.

Abortion in Germany is legal yet it is less prevalent than in Sri Lanka and since it is legal it is much safer and results in proper usage of contraception amongst women4.

Instead of having central authorities, power is distributed throughout the country so that all states may have a say in what kind of development they need and are there for more responsible to the people. It also makes it harder for a single corrupt entity to bring in regulations to favor personal interests or interest of big companies.

Of cause there are much more we can learn and take example from Germany but for the sake of making this article shorter I will stop for now. 

Present day Sri Lanka: Being a country with 65% Buddhist (supposedly the most liberal and intellectual religion…) we try to force religion upon our children and others. Trying to impose rules even outside temples to suit our own twisted beliefs.

We haven’t lost anything significant from great wars (other than a few gems and gold that was owned mostly by kings and queens) and we have had freedom for 70 years, yet instead of unification of the country we keep fighting to see who has the rights to barren lands and jungles, who has the right to stand up head straight and who has the right to walkover other people.

Instead of searching for friends and allies we see non-existing enemies all around us.

Instead of building Industry and freedom we dwell in making politicians and professionals rich and powerful and argue who should rule us and why we should be their slaves. Many people live in the myth that they need a dictator to solve problems (A dictator who has no personal interest, who does not abuse his power, who does not steal from the people nor gives his friends and relatives undue privileges…. People who have never read or learnt proper history of any country, I suppose)

Violence and hate speech is considered part of our culture.

Fighting in schools are interpreted as fun. Fighting in Parliament considered entertainment by uneducated and fighting in Medical Council considered entertainment by educated. But somehow fighting between thugs is considered bad and require punishment.

Burning down a house of a family whose father died of HIV is somehow rationalized and ignored

We have also come to an era of Facebook social justice. Where the judges and juries are people who have no idea to look at facts. Punishment can vary from trolling, shaming, social Isolation, physical attacks and destruction of property2.

Schools, temples, workplaces and even bus drivers have uniforms and instead of making people equal it has managed to make people ignorant and intolerant to differences in society. Instead of making people spend less time deciding what to wear it has made people waste countless hours debating on what kind of bra a woman should wear or what kind of trousers a man should. It has no doubt, added to people being obedient, but obedient people can be easily obedient to any master (Hence we come back to our slave mentality of searching for a master)

Hanging banners in Hospitals, by doctors, stating “Your lives are in danger; you will die soon” is considered freedom of speech. Who cares about patients who come to the hospital to avoid death.

Nuisance made by university students disrupting day to day lives of people who work to fund them is seen as exercising freedom of protest.

When a mere 35 refugees were granted temporary stay people consider it OK to jump in to their camp and attack them. As if attacking 35 people are going to stop the unseen and unproven mystical Islamic invasion.

Sri Lankan free education has become a breeding ground and cesspool of political parasites and sociopaths who believe that ragging is their right. Innovation limited to a few faculties and private education is surpassing government establishments (which should theoretically be near impossible since they would naturally lack all the advantages a government higher education institute has)

All regulation authorities in Sri Lanka have been centralized (TRC, SLMC, Medicines Regulatory Authority, even the police to an extent), giving them total power and zero responsibilities. Instead of identifying needs of different communities they cater to the people in power. (for example – SLMC trying to cover-up flaws and maintain monopolies in medical sector, TRC supporting inefficient oligopolies in telecommunications sector and so on)

Tying up loose ends: People seem to rely too much on “common sense” which to be honest is neither common nor sensible, so some of the above might seem unconnected to war (since no one has put it up in mainstream media or spoon fed in school as a fact.

I have tried to decrypt World war II in a tiresome graph that might give a glimpse of how philosophy, economy, history, technology, politics, tyranny, fear, nationalism, racism, intolerance, corruption, injustice, limiting freedoms and lot of more things led to the start of the World War as well as Sri Lankan conflict.

Aftermath of World War II and what we could learn: War is a strange thing… It requires us to disassociate human beings and look at them as cruel abominations. It requires obedient slaves to fight and kill. Silent communities to ignore violence. It requires masters whose commands should not be questioned.

War changes people and brings out the worst in them; hatred, fear and helplessness. With time it shapes not only the landscape of the country but the minds of the people who reside in it.

Post-war phycology of a considerable amount of Sri Lankans have become that it is OK to kill and silence people who oppose or do not live like they do. Many of them believe that they will never become victims to their own way of thinking. Because they are within the safe majority, that will not be touched (But the sad truth is everyone belongs to a minority in some way…  Today someone else is dying for your ignorance and tomorrow it could be you)

During the war governments and others who benefit from war shape our minds to appreciate vengeance and revenge. Our heroes are murderers in a way (There are no medals for soldiers who convince people to live happily helping each other, even when they do it amidst threats; There are no medals for soldiers who try to stop his comrades from raping a prisoner or pillaging a village). Years of war makes us think it is normal. Many even start to argue with a logic, that if a dog bites you, you should bite the dog.

World War II was a turning point for the EU. They realized that violent conflicts are born when you ignore oppression, corruption, injustice, violation of equal rights and ethical education. They realized alliances and trade is far more efficient than showing off and holding power.

Much of the political struggle that preceded the War, transformed countries in the EU and they were able to move forward. They required letting go of past aggressions and embraced patience, ethical education, practicing freedoms and liberties, distributing power and separating religion from governance to achieve this.

The countries that chose to dwell in the war, like North Korea has turned out to be problematic not just to its citizens but to the whole world.

Our “World War” could be the north-eastern conflict that ended few years ago… It is for us to decide which path to take. Would we rather have a country similar to Germany “Industrious and happy with all its allies and able to help millions of people” or a country like North Korea “Hungry and afraid, with no friends, looking at every dark corner for enemies, waiting for the next monster to appear and make us afraid”

For further reading and reference for those who require:

1. http://molleindustria.org/GamesForCities/ (this is one of the most creative presentations I’ve seen, that shows how conflicts shape our cities.)

2. There is a book that discusses why this kind of pattern can lead to insane amount of social damage and how and why lot of countries took away social shaming from punishments in their legal systems. “So you have been shamed” by Jon Ronson. If you are not into books there is a short TV episode “Orville: Majority rules” That could give an easy understanding of situation

3. How abortions reduce crime – “Legalized Abortion and Crime,” by Professors John Donohue of the Stanford University Law School. In brief It shows relationship of how legalized abortion reduced violent crime after ~18 years, argument being that children who would not be well cared-for or abused by parents would not be born. Although there are arguments against it, same results were shown in 4 more countries.

4. WHO statistics on abortion and SL Health Ministry Press releases 2015-16

*Kasun Kamaladasa physician graduated from Stavropol State Medical University, Russia

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Latest comments

  • 1
    2

    Kasun ,

    I think you are not one of the guys proud of our History , Culture , Civilization
    and currently the power of 95% literacy that has elevated us to the LEVEL of
    US , FRANCE ,UK and GERMANY ? ? What a shame ! Not in touch with the
    latest ?

    • 2
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      Whywhy,
      95% literacy is not a guarantee of anything. Some illiterates are much wiser than the “educated”.
      What “culture” are you expecting Kasun to be proud of? He has quite correctly pointed out:
      When a mere 35 refugees were granted temporary stay people consider it OK to jump in to their camp and attack them.
      Violence and hate speech is considered part of our culture.
      Being a country with 65% Buddhist (supposedly the most liberal and intellectual religion…) we try to force religion upon our children and others.
      Anyone who cannot understand the validity of the above and still calls himself literate is an educated idiot.

      • 3
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        old codger ,

        You didn’t get my point mate ! Why not take a look at the question
        marks ? What I’m saying indirectly is that some of our men are
        too busy shouting at those countries mentioned as if they can EVEN
        TEACH THOSE COUNTRIES A LESSON ! Got it now ?

        • 1
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          Whywhy,
          Sorry , I missed the sarcasm. I took you for one of those culture vultures.

          • 1
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            old codger

            Never mind mate .

      • 1
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        You are very right.

        Just interview all walks of the people covering cross section of lanken society.

        How many of them would go after Astrologers or socrdery if they would promise you about getting fortune if Gomaguliya or Hakkgediya would do the magic.

        No doubt over 90% :That says everything about our people. They just make big sounds on broad day light, but end of the day, they just behave like the other… no matter even Prof title yo would hold. That is why Kovur from india repeated, our folks are so stupid.
        They would even eat ASUCHI on one go, if they are lied about getting things for free.

    • 0
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      Whywhy: what are you talking about Tamil cultue or Sinhala buddhist culture ?. You people are shamless.

      • 1
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        Jim ,

        As usual ,waking up from the wrong end of the bed ? I talk about “our”
        culture my friend ! You feel ashamed ? Oh dear !

    • 0
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      Even if Germans fought a war, they are a civlized folk.

      They would respect law and order above anything else. But ours have been ones that would run after any rascal leaders for pitty gains.

      Like for example the manner, even if Rascals looted it to core, but last election proved people have no idea about anything but pave the way those rascals to get back.
      It is wrong to compare europeans with asians.

      I really dont think srilankens will never sense it that we have to maintain proper disipline, and respect to law and order if our future generations should not face it the way we did it.

      Just to get passed few law reforms Germans would take a week oor less than that, but our people would take months to years.
      Now with 3 years gone, nothing like proper reforms got done in the line of abusive LAW AND ORDER systems in the country.

      Who to be blamed if not for the folks … folks support those law professionals to abuse them further. Our folks would nto even respect harder laws.
      They would only focus on their bits but attack the state. That is how the average feel.

      God bless to srilankens. Nothing else, can help but god.

  • 0
    1

    Kamaladasa: YOu are young and naive. You explain very well the Evangelical christianity mentality for Sri lanka. Just thunk their own society and how broken it is. Unlike theirs, Sri lanka had a 2600 year or more old culture. but, European colonials, there after their jesiuit, catholic missionaries wrecked sri lanka. FYI: In the ancient Sinhale, A woman with body coveres with jewellery could walk from Rjarata to Magampura without any probmes. SO, learn more.

    • 0
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      JIMMY,
      If western society is so bad, why are you living there?

    • 1
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      Jim,

      You are so desperate to defend a non-existing culture. Which Sri lankan women had money to cover their bodies in jewels?

      What would a simple farmer do robbing a queen? your made up information makes no sense.

      Whas it so bad to build rail roads, brides and cities? Give us tea, rubber and coffee. that is still our biggest exports other than human slaves. Our kings killed and raped enough of our own people. we didn’t need outsiders to do that for us.

      Instead of repeating retarded politicians or your parents who taught you bullshit history go read a book or visit a museum.

  • 2
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    Kasun puthe I am very old and may not be there for 2020 presidential election. I strongly urge you to consider running as the common candidate. Budu saranai. Dulsi aachchi

  • 0
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    “Germany practices regulations rather than restrictions.”

    This is not true. Germany is highly restricted. You cannot homeschool your children, denying the Holocaust is a crime, as is any public display of the swastika or public admiration for the Nazis. If you are a foreigner visiting Germany, you better carry your papers with you at all times, because the police will be sure to enquire. Benefits (healthcare & education) are abundant, but taxes are very high. For anyone moving to the country, the paperwork can take a long time, even once they are there. Germany is not an easy country to live in.

    • 0
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      Unless you are prepared to wash toilets.

  • 0
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    My only advice to Kasun is “a little learning is a dangerous thing”! It is the height of stupidity for you to imagine that you could even understand the trends of social and political change that created today’s Sri Lanka. My recommendation to Kasun
    “Aney puthe thava tikak kasanna”

  • 1
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    Lester,

    It seems you don’t understand the difference between restrictions and regulations. They might are similar but not the same.

    of cause it’s Ok to make homeschooling illegal if you have one of the worlds best and flexible education systems. (Although in Sri Lanka it is illegal to do this too, but in schools children are abused, yelled and humiliated by teachers who are suppose to help them… so situation is rather different)

    Making it illegal to deny the Holocaust allowed them to make allies and put the war behind them. That was the main step of making peace with others. Asking others for forgiveness requires that you accepting your mistakes (Regardless whether you did it or not).

  • 3
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    Dear Kasun, a great analytical approach to problem solving indeed……you select a time and “era” where war and colonisation has savaged people localy and globally………..then you look at how a particular nation picks herself up for the liberation of her people from the “ashes”………then you looked at the causes not only limited to the “narrated brain washing versions” by the “winers” and “losers” but more imporatntly looked beyond (causes and effects in your chart/tool supported by available sources)…….then looked at how the subject country get through her journey collectively (in parallel dealing with whatever was thrown at her) to stay on course to get here as a “nation”. Not only she can take care of her subjects but “others in need” too. The “spirit and the spirituality” she has shown through her journey you have captured for a very novel purpose to share knowledge. She has set president in “science and technology” as a way to keep herself relevant to the changing world too……… Then you you set out to “Bench mark” this observations to see how we can liberate our people too…….an amazing take/approach for a “winning formula” indeed. Thank you for sharing with us all and being a true patriot. We should in fact do much better and have a more robust system/development model in place given we can apply lessons learned from “everyone” and from our past mistakes too. The worlds is a very rich place not because of the wealth she posses but she has a wealth of knowledge for us all to learn from for a better tomorrow. Thank you Kasun.

  • 0
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    Kasun, your dad Dr Kamaladasa (Skin dr) is my good friend, I believe you are on his foot steps. Go puthey and do as Daisy aachchi has advised.

  • 0
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    Kasun puthe, If you become the next common candidate (podu apekshaka) you have my vote

  • 0
    0

    Asoka Kamaladasa’s son Kasun Kamaladasa has written an article that is too long and lots of stuff are irrelavant to Sri Lanka. Try to improve always.

    There is nothing for Sri Lanka to learn from world war 2 as we did not fight it. It happenned more than 80 years ago!

    What we can learn is the elam wars, please be practical and write about them.

    I’m sure you have seen articles about world war 2 and not elam war. If you research ct archives you will find plenty about elam war.

  • 0
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    Dear All,

    I am not Dr.Ashoka Kamaladasa’s son. Nor should you accept what I say because of my relations or my education or my experiences.

    I did not write about our conflict because people are biased and emotional about it (Even I am biased to an extent. no matter how much I try not to be) and we are incapable (Unless we put great effort to reduce our biases) of listening to arguments or facts that we do not already acknowledge.

    If i did draw a chart of our own War. People will start crying and tell all kind of made-up stories to suite their own agendas or start trolling because that’s all they are capable of doing.

    If you cannot make a valid argument against my facts. it’s fine I understand Sri Lankan education system has failed to give many people the tools of critical thinking, understanding facts and communicating.

    All those people who cry about our 2600 great History please, please for the sake of your own sanity…. Explore the world and learn what it has to offer. Don’t live in a hole all your life.
    First known Human cities where created more than 10,000 years ago, Humans have been in the world for about even 200,000 years ago… It’s just stupid to argue who is the oldest and thus with no other valid reason allowed to be ignorant and refuse to change.

    I’m sorry, I do agree the article is too long… Thank you for the critical comments and encouragements.

    P.S. – No President, King, Politician or GOD will save us. Stop waiting for a higher power to pick us up and guide us. Change comes from ordinary people.

  • 0
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    Puthe Kasun (hope you are not angry as I am too old like your own aachchi)
    Puthe you are wrong to say one cannot write local war ‘cos he/she could be biased. What a foolish arguement son?
    You say humans existed more than 200000 years so our 2500 year history is not a big do. this shows you are not a patriot.
    You say it is stupid to talk who is oldest, why don’t you say this to tamil elamists?
    Sorry puthe my vote will not go to you if you become the common candidate 2020.
    You need to grow up and become patriotic puthe.
    Budu sarani

    • 3
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      Puthe, is used by many to belittle the other. It implies the person who addresses is mature and the other person is not. These third grade tactics are usual in Sri Lanka, especially used by those who do not have any counter arguments to make against some thing they don’t agree with. It is sad that we are unable to start a sensible discussion over matters of significant to the country.

  • 1
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    Dear Fellow Citizens

    What has been written is to give us a feel of how to think “out of the box” for a better tomorrow…….it is not to say one think better and the other etc……but it is to make a case to see all of us can be pursuaded by similar example that exist in “ample amounts”in our fellow human journeys in our planet… If we analyse these “human journeys” for what they are ie “failures” and “successes” that can yield the valuable information for us to use in our “journey” for “human rights/dignity” which we all want correct?. We have to let go of the past and apply only the valuable lessons learned is what made Germany/Japan successful stories tell us correct??….. is what being presented for us here by the Author……reminding us… why are we not making those leaps seventy years on since independence instead pondering/dwelling on “menial conflicts most of it are all exaggerated beyond comprehension for a reasoning mind” resulted in the loss of life/arms and limbs of few hundred thousand of our children belongs to mother Lanka is what basically laying foundation to the writeup……but is done in such a “smart” way to avoid refreshing bad memories…will be counterproductive..respect. . so we stay focused on the objective….a better tomorrow.

    Cabinet nod for bill to curb hate speech and cyber bullying
    http://www.ft.lk/front-page/Cabinet-nod-for-bill-to-curb-hate-speech-and-cyber-bullying/44-652298

  • 2
    0

    Good article by Kasun.Lot of points to ponder. But we are not ready to learn because we think of our great civilization and we are second to non.
    I almost lost hope in this country. Politics cheating us everyday.

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