31 October, 2020

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Our Moment Of Destiny

By David Blacker –

David Blacker

I think every generation faces its own particular challenges; but the greatest and most defining ones are those of morality and courage. That moment, if missed, condemns that generation — and often many that follow — to a world far more unpleasant and evil than we would wish it to be. For many in the free world of the late 1930s, that moment came with the invasion of Poland and the bombing of Pearl Harbour. It was a moment when my grandfather’s generation had to decide if they would simply stand on the sidelines or go out and fight someone else’s cause. Fortunately for them, the choice was easy; their respective governments took the right fork, and millions of young men — my grandfather included — went out into the deserts, the jungles, and across the seas to ensure that tyranny and racism would not shape our world. For 1960s America, the moment of destiny was in fact a place — Vietnam — and a moral choice. America made its decision, albeit a little late for millions of Vietnamese.

But when that hour of destiny arrived thirty years ago in Sri Lanka, our parents’ generation failed us. For decades, they had watched as extremist rhetoric leveled at the Tamil community gave way to physical violence. They stood by as our constitution was changed to remove any protection the minorities had a right to under law. They were silent when the nation’s leadership was silent on the racism and hatred that was all around them. They did nothing when their elected politicians in fact helped instigate the violence that climaxed in the orgy of assault, murder, rape, and destruction now known as Black July. For thirty years we have wondered how our parents could have been so docile, so shortsighted, so wrong in their choices. We have watched our country torn apart by suicide bombers and child soldiers, by tanks and artillery. We have watched a hundred thousand die, because our parents didn’t say “stop!”

Thirty years later, the clock is back at five minutes to midnight; racists are calling for violence, for this country to be only for Sinhalese Buddhists. They are calling for a tiny minority to change their lifestyles or leave; they are calling for their right to worship to be curbed. And they are threatening violence if their demands are not met. Our government is at best silent; at worst in collusion. Our police force is standing by while Muslims are attacked. There are no arrests. There is no condemnation. There is no justice.

The last time this happened, I was eleven years old; an uncomprehending child. I grew up to wonder why my father who could ride a motorcycle through a wall of fire to get me home that July, hadn’t been able to stop what was done to the Tamils and to my country. Was he scared? Didn’t he care? I ask the same questions from myself today. Why am I doing nothing as my country heads towards the flames again. I ask it of my friends — especially the Buddhists — my colleagues, my girlfriend. None of you are racists, I think. None of you believe that Muslims must be persecuted and harassed. Why are you not speaking out? Why are you not protesting? What will it take? Or is there nothing that will drive us out of our homes and on to the streets to brave the thugs and the tear gas, the water cannon and the bullets? Have we no fucking shame?

I feel ashamed right now; ashamed of my government; ashamed of my friends; ashamed of my country. More than anything, I am ashamed of myself. I have never felt this way about my country, and I never thought I would, but I feel it now. And I hate feeling this way. In the worst of the war, I told myself that it wasn’t my fault; that I hadn’t chosen this war to fight. But this is now. This is me. This is us. This is our country and our moment of destiny is here. Why are we doing nothing?

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Latest comments

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    My memory fails me, Which community was it that machine-gunned hundreds of Muslims in a mosque while they were at prayer?

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      Andromeida

      Was it LTTE? Was LTTE amounted to a community?

      Come to think of it my memory does not fail to remember Puttalam Mosque and 1915.

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      Singholies hand in hand with Tameills.

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    Excellent and accurate thinking David, but I must say as a sri lankan tamil living inside the shore has given me a glimpse of reality that no wards or logic can explain….. offshore we can think liberal but the need of the hour is not rightful thinking rather the best solution by any mean before something new starts to fill up the empty glass. sinhalese/tamils/muslims/burgers individually might have different stories and grievance but as one Sri lankan community we need PEACE to cohabitate AS one . how we got it might be painful but PLEASE DON’T BREAK IT AGAIN to PIECES is my Humble PLEA …….

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    All Buddhists are not BBS or Ravana force and all Muslims are not Wahhabis or Jihadists. So Generalising as Singhalese Buddhists are all as racists is not fair. Does the moderate Muslims oppose what the extreme mulims does? no. Likewise majority moderate Buddhists are watching what is happening and you and I know very well that there is lot more than just racism is going on.
    I think,I also some times feel the same kind of frustration David Blacker feels when Ven.Gnanasara thero speaks in Mervyn Silvas tone. There is really no need for that and they know that will only discredit the Buddhists as a whole. May be it is their goal. It is a bit too early to identify the real agendas behind these activites but one thing is for sure that they are not doing a service to the religion or the country.

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    ‘CHICKEN LITTLE’ Blacker now claims the Sky is falling down in Sri Lanka. Oh yes folks…there you have it! With only a couple of incidents by this fringe extremist group called BBS… our celebrated ‘War-Hero’ makes the dubious comparison to BLACK JULY… only this time its going to be for Muslims. As if now all of a sudden the Buddhist Majority are all going to rise up in anger and organize to systematically attack Muslims over the issue of Halal Certification. LOL! I can’t help but laugh at the sheer absurdity of Blacker’s implications and the utterly whiny tone of his article. Maybe if he could actually stop behaving like a sissy girl and hold of from throwing a tantrum and actually demonstrate using real evidence as to how this situation is going to realistically escalate to some sort of alarming proportions then fine… sure I’ll buy that? Otherwise this guy is now starting to sound like all those Crowing NGOs who made so much unnecessary noise slandering the Buddhist Majority every time a Tamil broke a toenail during the war…

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      Devinda,you donkey,what blacker is telling is to nip these things in the bud without just watching like bystanders.In 1956 when the TULF was having a peaceful satyagraha in the galle face,banda let loose the goons on them and was laughing when he was driving past to see them running and getting hammered.Since then so many soldiers have died,been maimed for life and the country ruined all because the sinhalese were just watching from the sidelines in 1956,and then in 58,77,81,83.See how it escalated.If you try the same stunt with the muslims,that means you have still not learnt from past mistakes.Everything starts in a small and then escalates out of control.That is why these sinhala bhuddhist extremists should be tied up like dogs.When banda was shot by one sir,John kotalawela visited him in hospital and said why he had untied the dogs he had tied up.

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        Sure Shanker…because the Ethnic agitations by Tamils and the Sinhalese Nationalist movement responses are the EXACT SAME as a lone Fringe Buddhist group challenging Halal Butchery of Animals in Sri Lanka… lol! Keep Drinking the KOOL AID my CONSPIRACY NUT Friend.

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          Sure,it started with halal,then went onto stoning and damaging muslim businesses,and pulling out the veils of muslim women and mosques are now under threat with claims they are on sacred bhuddhist areas.Can’t you see a pattern emerging or you don’t want to because you yourself must be a sinhala bhuddhist racist.You sound like one anyway,though I may be mistaken.

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          The point of this article, as was explained to you on Facebook, Devinda, and after which you ran away to resurface here, is about the morality of standing up to racism and ethnic persecution on behalf of those who are fewer and weaker. Even if there is NEVER a Black July again, even if THERE is never another ethnic war, even if there is NOT A SINGLE Muslim killed, it is still WRONG — and that is why we must speak out about it — not because there is something to be gained, or because we need to keep the peace, or anything like that — we must do it because it is the right thing to do.

          Such thinking requires a moral compass; a knowledge of right and wrong.

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