By Sharmini Serasinghe –
These is always a reason why people do the things they do or don’t do!
It is indeed a strange and ironic phenomenon in the system of governance of Sri Lanka that when it comes to sound policies to solve issues of a national nature, those in power appear to be at a loss, while those in the opposition seem to have all the best policies to solve the country’s ills.
In Sri Lanka today, there is much written and talked about the perceived inaction of a certain Opposing individual who is looked upon by many especially his loyal following, as one who is able to salvage our country from the social and political quagmire it is sinking into. Because traditionally as mentioned above, those not in power are expected to have all the right solutions.
The perceived ‘silence’ of this Opposing individual has bewildered many, mostly amongst his loyal supporters giving rise to much personal attacks, ridicule and criticism.
However I see it differently. Some may regard it as a figment of my over-dramatic imagination while some may not. But in a democracy and as a citizen of this country I believe I’m permitted the freedom of looking at things my way, therefore “outside the Box”.
The following is an Allegorical Narration of the Status Quo
“Once upon a time there was a Fox and a Bull in a land comprising mainly of Cattle, Leopards, Reptiles, Owls and Others. The Cattle were in the majority, followed by Leopards. The Bull was the ruler of the Land, for reasons best known to those who elected him.
The fox was a descendent of a family that had ruled the Land before and was not new to the game. However he unlike his predecessors never quite got to rule the Land except for a very limited period. During this short space of time the Fox together with his following of some wise Owls and Reptiles ruled the Land according to some, like a CEO of a massive efficiently run enterprise.
The Fox’s method of governance was far too sophisticated for the Cattle majority to comprehend and appreciate. Therefore the Fox came across more like a Lamb than a Fox and lacked mass appeal amongst the simple minded majority of the Land made up of Cattle.
The Bull on the other hand quite unlike those of his fraternity was a shrewd and charismatic one. Being a talented actor the Bull came across as more Cattle-friendly than the Fox. He knew exactly how to play his cards with the masses made up of Cattle known for their limited intelligence.
The Bull’s less sophisticated home-grown methods of governance therefore appealed to the masses which obviously valued populism over efficiency and thus ensured the Bull’s victory at every subsequent election.
This was a time when all was not well in the Land. Leopards were creating a ruckus disturbing the peace in the Land.
This came about due to a mess created by the predecessors of both the Bull and the Fox resulting in the Leopards being marginalized over the years. The unresolved mess which was not nipped in the bud snowballed into the Leopards wanting to carve out their own niche in the land. The majority would not hear of it, for they regarded the Land as their sole property.
The Leopards got mad and killed off all the great wise Owls who might one day rule the Land, leaving only the Bull and the Fox for the majority Cattle population to choose from. Therefore it became a Hobson’s choice situation in the Land.
Meanwhile the Land was going up in flames with the Leopards intensifying their wrath. The economy of the Land was down to a dribble and the rulers of the Land were caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
The Fox being a moderate intervened and wanted to settle the issue through dialogue and other diplomatic means. And so the Fox with great difficulty managed to get the intransigent Leopard chief to agree to sit down and talk, instead of burning up the Land.
The Leopard chief was a tough nut to deal with and continued to insist on the niche for his Leopards. The Fox and the Bull were for once united and said “Nothing doing”.
All hell broke out in the Land with the chief Leopard unleashing his fury on the majority Cattle and others. The Bull decided that the Fox’s method was not the way to go and unleashed his armies to finish off the Leopard chief and his comparatively small army of Leopards once and for all.
The methods used were questionable because many other innocent Animals in the Land were killed in the crossfire on the battlefield but the Bull couldn’t care less because he “Won the War”. This was to become the Bull’s main weapon to win over the majority Cattle vote base at every election thereafter.
Animal rights activists from far and wide started to voice their concerns over what was happening in the Land, but the Bull couldn’t give a damn for he was now riding high on the hysteria “We won the War”. In the typical ‘bull-in-a-china-shop’ manner the Bull carried on doing things his way. His arrogance knew no bounds, so was his stupidity. The Bull appeared to interpret good governance as pure and simple poppycock.
Meanwhile, the Fox was becoming increasingly unpopular in the eyes of the majority in the Land. His CEO method of governance had lost out to the Bull’s street-wise methods. He had lost his status as a potential ruler of the Land and became the object of much scorn and criticism.
Many regarded the Fox as a fool and some of the Reptiles in his camp decided to dump the sinking ship and crossed over to join the ruling Bull’s camp comprising a large Herd of well pampered Cattle which offered a rosier future for them personally and to hell with the Land.
In addition to these problems the Fox had to deal with, there started some rattling and rumblings within the Fox’s camp. Moves were under way to oust their leader the Fox. But before long the ruckus ceased as his challengers realised that the Fox was no fool.
By now the Fox had come to be regarded as the Bull’s coziest asset, for never did he raise a hue and cry over the way the Bull and his Herd of Cattle were bulldozing around as rulers/ruiners of the land. And on the Bull’s part he made sure that the Fox had all the comforts he required and was protected from perceived enemies from within his camp. For the gullible Bull regarded the Fox as his greatest ally. It appeared to be a win-win situation for both the Bull and the Fox! Or so it seemed!
Few realised that the Fox was no Simple Simon. This was none other but the 21st Century Fox himself!
The fox having lost out to the Bull at a record number of elections in the past realised that he needed to take a short cut to get to his destination and therefore decided to sit back and wait for his day he was sure would eventually dawn.
Somewhere down the line the Fox had acquired a spiritual need shared by the Bull to seek the divine intervention of Gods who could be consulted only at certain holy shrines in the big Land next door. Both the Fox and the Bull took turns at visiting these shrines to seek whatever they were seeking, causing much confusion to the Gods and putting them in an unenviable situation.
The Bull and his Herd of Cattle meanwhile were running amok with their self-destructive political gymnastics with the cunning Fox stealthily egging them on giving them all the rope to hang themselves with. The Bull was now increasingly becoming like the Emperor with new clothes, with the majority Cattle population admiring all his new outfits and failing to see his obvious nakedness.
To make his master plan not too obvious and being the tactician he is, the Fox every once in a while would make wise utterances at the regular congregations at the Zoo critically analyzing the problems facing the Land and urging the ruling Herd of Cattle not to incite religious and communal passions, which once embroiled the Land in war.
This cunning 21st Century Fox was only too aware that all his utterances were falling on the Bull’s deaf ears, but nevertheless he made them anyway, if only for the record. The Cattle were now starting to wonder why the Bull could not come up with such sensible solutions himself.
Meanwhile, the Cats and Vultures from far off well-to-do Lands were starting to take note of what was happening in this small but strategically located Land in the Indian Ocean. Their concerns and reprimands fell on the deaf ears of the Bull and his Herd of Cattle. They were still riding high on the hysteria “We Won the War”.
Given the characteristics of the species, the Bull and his Herd of Cattle little realised that in the eyes of the rest of the world the Bull had unleashed his armies only to squash a battle amongst the citizens of the Land he ruled and not against a foreign invader.
Serious concerns started to be raised by the Cats and Vultures in the international arena regarding Animal Rights being violated in the Land. They were being goaded into action mostly by Leopards of the Land who had fled during the war and become citizens of foreign Lands.
The Bull and his Herd of Cattle taking umbrage at this treated these concerns with scorn and ridicule, little realising the long term consequences of their actions and inactions. They stubbornly stuck to their policy that Good Governance is Good Poppycock. Not for a moment did they stop to think that if all from these foreign Lands collectively spat on this tiny Land ruled by the Bull, his kingdom would vanish beneath the Indian Ocean within moments.
Meanwhile, the 21st Century Fox is lying low marking time for his final leap, making periodic wise utterances at the Zoo congregations, while the Bull and his Herd continue to wind the rope around their necks.
Will the Bull eventually meet his Waterloo in the now seemingly sleeping 21st Century Fox?”
The above is a work of fiction based on the writer’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, beings, living or dead is purely coincidental. Any humiliation caused to animals is deeply regretted.
*Sharmini Serasinghe was Director Communications of the former Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) under Secretary Generals Jayantha Dhanapala and Dr. John Gooneratne. She counts over thirty years in journalism in both the print and electronic media.