By Pabasari Ginige –
I have been attending to all sorts of casualties since the April 21st bomb blasts. Some were children, some, women and some, men. Some were de novo anxious and fearful of their lives and those of the loved ones. Some have got their mental health conditions worsened. There is no difference in the suffering of them, despite the fact they belong to all affected races and religions. Even when it is covered by shawl or osari pota depression is depression to me. I too with my colleagues share the shock and national grief following these incidents which shook the foundations of our beautiful island nation. Months are passing since the tragic events and different politically driven “dramas are staged” with no assurance of stability for the peace loving Sri Lankan to settle his or her mind. As a citizen and also as a professional who is attending to the affected people now and will be attending to them unfortunately in years to come in the form of delayed post traumatic stress disorder etc. I believe it is my civic duty to speak up and contribute at least in a small way to make a positive change.
First I condemn my government of Sri Lanka for its gross inefficiency and negligence that cost the lives of its people. It is even more condemnable the way the government behaved in the aftermath not taking responsibility and lying shamelessly blaming each other. I hold the opposition also responsible for not warning the people of the imminent threat despite the fact the VIPs were adequately warned about their safety.
People have lost faith in law and flaccid authorities to curtail the situation. In this context an atmosphere of mass hysteria where hatred, fear and paranoia are being perpetuated by various politically motivated fractions with ulterior motives. The best example is the attacks in the North Western Province. Certain groups of people are being ostracized and discriminated without adequate evidence based on race and religion. The social media and other propaganda are too quick to pass judgment on certain alleged incidents and a large number of people are rushing to endorse and spread these stories without verifying them. I urge we must curb such temptation to believe whatever we hear or read based on our racial and political affiliations. It should be left for the investigators to look into the truthfulness of the allegations though I too share the sentiments of those who believe the law can be bent and investigations will not be proper under any government present or past for that matter. Yet I like to remind taking law into our hands will only worsen the situation and we will be unknowingly played into the opportunistic politicians from any party. It is a situation fraught with much danger. It is common knowledge that in mass hysteria, only mob mentality and ‘groupthink’ can thrive, leading to mob violence. Many scholars including Sigmund Freud have written about this herd behaviour. We must not let the present governments repeat what the 1983 government did to our country. Further, our behavior now will resonate for generations to come. Do we want our children to feed on fear and racism and perpetuate the cycle of violence for posterity and destroy our nation? We need to make wise choices now. Particularly when the people can not rely on at least a proper investigation against the accused extremists with high power it is easy for this herd mentality to take over our best reasoning and judgment.
While congratulating the majority of Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka for their patience shown despite being lured to be otherwise, I like to remind my fellow Sinhalese Buddhists that this is the time we should practice our meththa muditha karuna. The catholic community lead by their religious leader has been tremendously patient and showed the true meaning of love and forgiveness taught in their religion. I thank all those Muslim fellow citizens for trying to alert authorities for some time about Islam extremism in Sri Lanka to which a deaf and blind approach was shown and the peace loving Muslims who have paid with their safety for opposing the extremists.
As a nation, we need to be strong and rational in the face of adversity. Thinking critically and not being pawns of opportunistic and chauvinistic politicians is the need of the hour. My dear fellow Sri Lankans, It is when the going is tough that we need to tap our humanity most.
*Dr. Pabasari Ginige – Consultant Psychiatrist