11 July, 2020

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Unchecked Fundamentalism: Killer Of Social Progress

By W A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Don’t kill critics but respond intelligently

In the previous two parts of this series (available here and here), we argued that the ominous rise in religious and cultural fundamentalism in Sri Lanka during this election season does not augur well for the future of the country. Though human beings share a common DNA, they are today divided into groups of people on ethnic, religious, language, location or cultural grounds. These groups have been invaded by fundamentalists who believe that the groups to which they belong are the supreme, all others are inferior and therefore they do not deserve to share this planet. Thus, they are not open to opposite views and ready to destroy anyone who comes up with such contrary views. This is against the fundamental tenets of civilisation, where people have to collaborate and cooperate with each other in order to progress as well as for ensuring survival.

We argued that in Sri Lanka, where the majority follows the Dhamma preached by the Buddha, this need not be the case. The Buddha was a rebel in the contemporary Indian society and challenged the existing order and the belief system. His advice to Bhikkhus and followers was that they should respond intelligently to criticism by apprising the critics of the right path, and not by resorting to violence. We noted that nearly three hundred years after the Buddha, Emperor Ashoka, a monarch who propagated the message of the Buddha in other parts of Asia, had through his rock inscriptions emphasised on the need for the tolerance of opposing views. Taking a liberal view, in Rock Edict 12, he proclaimed that all religions have ethical essentials which are good and therefore, people should learn of such ethics contained in all religions.

While the Buddha and Ashoka are proponents of human liberty, the fundamentalists who take charge of societies through political power have suppressed liberty. They have therefore removed an essential prerequisite for social progress, the aspiration of all human societies today, by seeking to engineer human thought and behaviour. In this last part of the series, we look at how it kills social progress.

Social progress is a wider concept than the most often quoted goals of societies, namely, economic growth, economic development or simply, development.

Economic growth: More is always better

Economic growth denotes the availability of a bigger basket of material goods and services for use by the members of a society. If people have more goods and services for their use, it is considered an amelioration of their living conditions. Here, the accepted notion is that ‘more is always better’. Accordingly, societies seek to increase the rate of the production of goods and services, known as economic growth. Thus, if a country has recorded a high economic growth year after year, it is considered a beneficial development. In the opposite, if a country’s growth rate has faltered or fallen into the negative region, it is considered a failure.

This common yardstick is an important measure of the progress of a country, but it hides so many qualitative factors that actually affect the wellbeing of the people in society.

Economic development: Fruits should be shared inclusively

In view of the observed defects of economic growth as a measure of human welfare, a broader concept in the form of economic development has been proposed. It encompasses, in addition to economic growth, the ability of a society to sustain its growth over the years by providing its members quality goods, quality life and quality social relations.

This ‘quality’ can be attained by seeking after two sub-goals. One is the ability of a society to produce quality goods today without compromising its ability to do so in the future as well. The other is the ability of a society to distribute the quality goods equitably, not equally, among all members in society. The first sub-goal relates to the maintenance of environmental quality, while the other sub-goal tries to ensure a fair distribution of wealth among society’s members. This is known as inclusive development where the fruits of the advancement of society is shared by all, irrespective of sex, religion, ethnicity, language or the place of living. It is the type of society which fundamentalists abhor, because they want preferential treatment to their own members at the expense of all others.

Development: Provide facilities for self-perfection

The goal of development is inclusive of both economic progress and economic development, but it constitutes a concept wider than both of them. It calls for ensuring facilities for all members of society to attain ‘self-perfection’, the ultimate aim of living by a human being. Since it is a societal goal, I call it social progress, the advancement not as an individual per se, but as members of a society as a whole.

It therefore encompasses all living beings who have to exist in collaboration with each other, on one side, and getting enriched from each other, on the other. This is what the Buddha meant when he called his followers to extend compassion (Maithree), sympathetic consideration (Karuna), empathy (Muditha) and equanimity (Upeksha) to all beings in the whole universe.

Social progress: Advancement through collaboration and cooperation with all others

Social progress therefore requires two prerequisites if it is to be attained by a society. First, people should collaborate and cooperate with each other at the individual, family, country, and global levels.

It requires them to appreciate and understand what other people do, believe and practice and tolerate them. As I have presented in Part I of this series, humans today, though divided in terms of language, culture, ethnicity or place of living, have evolved from a common DNA that has been responsible for their physical and mental build-up and a common sound system that has led to the formation of different languages. The appreciation of this diversity is simply going back to the common root of humans.

Then, we have the diversity of the eco-system which has been there for the system to exist, survive and prosper as a whole. The non-recognition of this diversity at the level of humans or at the level of the whole eco-system will be fatal for social progress. In the second place, it is necessary to allow freedom of thought and freedom of expression by people, as long as they do not compromise with the freedoms of others. This is necessary to establish a society of inventions and innovations, an essential feature for it to move forward.

Margaret Mead: Caring for others make a man fully human

About the collaboration and cooperation of the members of society and then, among the nations, social anthropologist Margaret Mead in a conversation with other social anthropologists elaborated the following. “An infant whose parents have not prepared some way to care for it and shelter it will die. But this is true of birds who need nests. However, to be a full human being, a person has to grow up in a society with more than one family to care for him, to learn relationships to old and young, to both sexes, to people that are close and to people that are far away. It’s only by growing up in such a society that we become fully human.”

But today’s societies have grown into nation states, and the perceived nationhood has elevated people living in them to a false sense of supremacy. This is being echoed by local leaders from time to time, not necessarily because they believe in it, but because they want to harness the support of the people. It is pretty much obvious during election seasons.

Margaret Mead: Nation states should also care for each other

Margaret Mead in her conversations has clarified this also. Says Mead: “When we used to think of nations and talk about nationalism, we spoke of nationalism as an almost unmitigated evil. It was opposed to internationalism and it was spoken of as something that was wrong and inevitably brought conflict and war. But today we have a new phrase, and that is the phrase nationhood, which means that each nation has a part in a whole. Instead of each nation working for self-advantages, instead of each nation seeking to aggrandise itself at the expense of all other nations, today each nation is part of a whole. Each nation has an investment in maintaining the safety and welfare of each other nation. We do not dare to let any other nation sink below a certain level of health, of order, because this threatens the whole of the world.”

What is needed today is, therefore, nations to work together, cooperate and collaborate with each other, and pass the benefits of their civilisational achievements to other nations, as a good gesture rather than a way to establish political dominance over them.

Inventions and innovations, a must for social progress

Human society progresses only if its members become inventive and innovative. Recognising this important requirement, the Sinhala writer Kumaratunga Munidasa, as far back as 1945, proclaimed in Virith Vekiya that a nation that does not make new inventions does not arise in the world. He further said that such failing nations have no choice but to go before the rest of the nations with a begging bowl and get heavily indebted. Hence, according to him, the way to keep a nation free from indebtedness is to invent and innovate, so that it is ahead of other nations and does not need to borrow from others.

This piece of wisdom is highly relevant to Sri Lanka today. But as Margaret Mead has elaborated, what is being invented by one nation should be made available to other nations too, because every nation should consider itself as a part of a whole. This was also emphasised by the President of the European Union when the USA sought to buy the patent rights for a vaccine being currently developed in Germany against the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19. She said that, once developed, that particular vaccine belongs to the whole world, and therefore cannot be assigned to only a single country.

Challenge the existing order

Inventions involve creating new things and innovations, making them available to members. Both require one to challenge the existing order – social, technical, political, economic, religious and cultural. If Copernicus and Galileo did not challenge the existing wisdom of the Christian church, the world would still have believed that the earth was flat, and the sun was revolving around the earth.

The founding Vice Chancellor of the Vidyodaya University, the predecessor to the present University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Rev Welivitiye Sri Sorata, is reported to have advised the undergraduates that they should be challenging, probing and critical. This wisdom has been incorporated into the lyrics of the University anthem.

Inventions and innovations thrive when people enjoy self-esteem and freedom to choose

The forced allocation of resources through central leadership could deliver higher economic growth to a society. But such economic growth becomes short-lived, since long-term sustenance of growth depends on continued supply of inventions and innovations to the system. Inventions and innovations thrive when human beings enjoy self-esteem and are free to choose, two important core values which are necessary for sustained social progress.

This was evident in the old Soviet Union. In the absence of liberty, the Soviet Union failed to replicate inventions and innovations, and as a result could not continue with the high economic growth it generated in 1930s and 1940s. As Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have noted in their 2019 book The Narrow Corridor, “One can pour resources into patents, universities, new technologies and even create huge rewards for success (for some Soviet scientists, the reward was to stay alive). But it is not enough if you cannot replicate the rambunctious, disorderly and disobedient nature of true experimentation.”

This clarifies the issue which some harbour in them that liberty is the by-product of growth and for growth to take place, some sort of dictatorial regime that should suppress liberty should be there. However, for social progress, liberty should be first ensured because no one can attain self-perfection, without the freedom of thought and freedom of expression.

Thus, no society has been able to sustain its social progress, unless liberty is enshrined into the system. What it means is that for long-term sustained social progress, inputs should come from both the top-down and bottom-up systems equally. Human liberty is a sine qua non for proliferating bottom-up views in the form of inventions and innovations.

Fundamentalists have taken liberty away from people

Religious and cultural fundamentalism has taken liberty away from people. When cultures and societies continuously advance forward, evolving into new shapes in the process, fundamentalists seek to take them backward and imprison the members in old systems. They deny the freedom of choice to members, and in the process impede the drive for inventions and innovations. Social progress is the casualty, and when society does not progress, the corollary is intra-society as well as inter-society conflicts.

Sri Lankans should be alert to the emerging ominous rise of fundamentalist ideas

Homo sapiens became the masters of the globe after this species developed cognitive skills some 70,000 years ago. It facilitated this group of animals to spread out to the rest of the globe from its ancestral seat in East Africa, create language, domesticate both plants and animals, settle down in specific places and build kingdoms and empires. Throughout the subsequent millennia, they underwent considerable evolution, not only in their genetic build-up, but also in the way they behave, known as culture. They are still evolving, and one cannot predict into what form these animals would evolve in the future.

However, the groups that have not been able to experience this evolutionary process safely have converted themselves to fundamentalists, seeking to stop the evolutionary process and turn it backward. The corollary has been the denial of liberty to people and generation of intra-society and inter-society conflicts among human beings.

The denial of human freedom has impeded the process of inventions and innovations, a must for continued social progress. This is the most serious social problem faced by societies today. Sri Lanka is too much involved in this ominous development during this election season. It behoves on Sri Lanka’s voters to select their leaders at the election as men of wisdom and not as men of insanity.

*The writer, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at waw1949@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 12
    3

    A brilliant piece of writing that differentiate Buddhist teaching from fundamentalist perception of religions. Well written in analytical way to convince the readers.

    • 6
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      Dr W A Wijewardena

      “While the Buddha and Ashoka are proponents of human liberty, the fundamentalists who take charge of societies through political power have suppressed liberty.”

      However Emperor Ashoka
      “created a large cadre of “dhamma mahamatas” who were supposed to ensure that all subjects adhered to a code of conduct, including several stipulations on what people should eat. We have a modern term for such officials – religious police”, excerpt from
      Ashoka, The Not So Great
      https://swarajyamag.com/culture/ashoka-the-not-so-great

      • 5
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        Native,
        If one goes on the strength of edicts written on walls, one might forget that the very individuals who commissioned these writings came to their positions by killing lots of people. Let alone Ashoka, there was Constantine in Rome…..
        Perhaps a guilty conscience has something to do with it? A holy ruler is a contradiction in terms.

      • 1
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      • 0
        0

        What a stupid and ignorant comment. Please, stop wasting your time, expertise and talent here. Step away from your keyboard and get on the phone to the Government to offer your expertise. 

    • 13
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      Fundamentalism thrives on ignorance. Sadly, in SriLanka, “free” education has produced students and teachers who only know what is in their textbooks. They congratulate themselves at being “educated” . But the clerks know nothing about ,say, Muslims, and are taken for a ride by social media. If it’s on FB it must be true, no? General knowledge is horribly limited. People who worship Jamaican Bob Marley cannot name three of the nearest cities in India
      Except of course, everyone knows there are no toilets there.
      Add to this a set of conniving clergy, whose main aim is to convince the peasants of their supernatural powers.
      The credulity and ignorance of Sri Lankans is amazing. From one set of relics in the Kelani river to another tooth which is said to bring rain , or even clay statues covered in golden chains, which nevertheless fell victim to bombs, will we never learn?
      Now we have a Cardinal, no less, accusing a certain rich country of designing the Covid-19 virus. Doesn’t this idiot realize that according to the faith he follows, only his God can create life?

      • 3
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        Old Codger, knowledge and wisdom are two different things you can learn all the books in the world but cannot have the wisdom isn’t that what is lacking in our universities

        • 0
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          Yes, Roman, you are on the dot.

  • 3
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    Don’t kill critics but respond intelligently: I do not agree with this subtitle. Need self-introspection. Understand how Brutal were brahimins when they criticised Buddha. For what reason, responses were cruel and brutal. I do not agree when said, that Buddha is a REBEL. Almighty Buddha explained the truth. Kalama sutta and many other places when talked with Brahmins allowed Teachings of Buddha. Probably, the problem is English does not have a proper word to explain it.
    I think you on purpose avoided the influence of international geo politics in Asian countries in your discussion. Secondly, it is not the devotees who are causing these. It is some of the politically motivated religious people, even though there are several books criticising Buddhism in Asia all written by western – Christians. No one has published profiles of Christianity, Catholics, and Islam in relation to Buddhists.
    Anyway, your argument is right. Many muslims are moving to western countries, when christianity is hostile to them. It is the good living conditions they are looking for.
    I think in the vaccine development, they inject the debilitated virus to the people who would get infected with the virus. But, they have to select the right piece of the virus protein or the RNA or DNA. RNA, even DNA, can be easily destroyed if not protected. So, they have to select the right piece. One one group identify it they can modify it to make it more resistant to the destruction or to be more effective.
    Almighty Buddha converted Brahmin dominated India to a mostly Buddhist India. That stayed as it is until muslims invaded, killed bhikkus and burned viharas. Some how, Sri lanka must follow the same way. but by Bhikkus and not politicized ones and no politicians should involve. I think politics destroyed Sri Lankan bhikkus, how ever or what ever way, they argue, to a greater extent.

  • 2
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    Don’t kill critics but respond intelligently: I get the message. I have read, in France, I suppose, that they do not allow bankrupt churches to be sold to muslims. I know even the Land registries allow free selling of Lands and even se;;ing is not a problem, muslims can not easily build a mosque in mostly the Christian countries. I think, it is because of Sri Lankan political system, there should be larger number of recent Christian and muslim churches built. The reason should be political influence more than the lack of legislation. Even though they do not admit, they would not allow their culture and society to be destroyed. But, Sri Lanka is not so. See, how rishad bathiuddin did his work. See how Zaharan and Wahabis behaved. But, Ranil and their govt had two different approaches towards buddhists, muslims and Christians. All previous govts have been the same even thoigh spme was hiding while others such as Yahapalanaya was openly worked against buddhists by making buddhists worried.

  • 2
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    Dr Wije implies that It is only the Sinhala Buddhists who practice this Fundamentalism..It that the real situation?.

    To me Fundamentalism is trying to enforce ones own beliefs, practices and even tribal Laws on the other communities with disregard to even common Laws in the Country.

    Sinhala Buddhists never go around trying to convert others to become Buddhists.
    Sinhala Buddhists are not asking to lower the marriage age of their children to 12 years.
    Sinhala Buddhists do not hold weekly public shows to cure sick Humans by praying to Gods.
    Sinhala Buddhists do not ask for separate Homelands with their own Religious Police and their own Caste members to administer Public Lands.
    Sinhala Buddhists do not run to the UN and Western Countries asking help to even when their previous Government was jailing their Monks on trumped up charges.’

    Sinhala Buddhists are the poorest sector among the great majority of the inhabitant population.
    Sinhala Buddhists do not get much from the Goodies in those Baskets.
    Sinhala Buddhists in fact can’t afford to go to those Shops where there are those Goody Good Baskets.

    It is true that if every inhabitant has a decent Basket of those Goody Goods to feed them and their Kiddies and the Missus they may act l and behave the way Dr Wije and his mates want them to do…

    They would even agree to give Homelands to other Ethnic groups although they do =not have any of their own-
    They even wouldn’t mind Same Sex marriages.

    But then when they have to depend solely on Dahll , Rice and Mackeral even in normal times, how can we expect them to be be sophisticated to read those literature on Human Behavior and Social Etiquette and abide by King Asoka’s Commandments inscribed on Hindian Rock Faces..

    • 3
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      KASmaalam K.A. Sumanasekera

      “Sinhala Buddhists never go around trying to convert others to become Buddhists.”

      Sadly it is true, however the Sinhala/Buddhists go around and convert Sinhalese and Buddhists into Sinhala/Buddhism. Now it appears they convert the Sinhala/Buddhists into Sinhala/Buddhist fascists.

    • 2
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      Then we must wonder, why the majority ethnic group is an insecure majority in this country.
      Then we must wonder how the Sinhala language only movement took shape and only in recent history the constitution was revised to add that Tamil is also an official language though in practice still lagging far behind and the ministry refuses to issue birth certificate in trilingual format in lieu of Sinhala only format.
      Then we must wonder why our constitution imposes religious paramount to Buddhism.

      That’s all just the tip of the iceberg.

      There’s an awful lot to wonder to qualify this nation as one not having Sinhala-Buddhist fundamentalism.

  • 4
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    I congratulate the author for the well rationalized essay explaining in lucid form how nativism, nationalism and fundamentalism have taken the centre stage to national economic policy and individual liberty in Sri Lanka politics.
    Political ignoramuses who are firmly settled in the seats of power have no concern of the rising cost of living, continuing trade imbalance, falling productivity and rising debt burden on the present generation and generations to come, but are engaged in whipping up tension through fundamentalism among the vulnerable population in order to catch their votes and take the shortest and easiest route to parliament.
    Politicians committed with strong desire for service, equipped with adequate knowledge in domestic & world affairs and those with implacable mental strength need to be chosen to pull out the country from the impasse.
    A perverse fundamentalism of a very venomous variety is taking its rounds under the patronage of the leaders in order to cover up the scandalous and corrosive corruption that took place in the country.

  • 1
    9

    The weak, effeminate philosophy of giving up and submitting to powers from outside just cannot be what the Buddha preached. Sinhalese should realize that these monsters who use such drivel are trying to make them look bad in the eyes of others, as if they are somehow doing damage to the teachings of the Buddha. That is all balderdash. The men who wiped out the Tamil Tigers did not follow orthodox, nonsensical, lay-down-and-submit crap that is called Buddhism. As the advanced on the enemy the words of the Mahavamsa and the legends of the warriors and king DutuGemunu were reverberating in their heads. Do not let retards like the author of this article and other Sinhalese cuckolds prevent you from dealing with the utmost venom against the barbaric ISIS Jihadi maniacs. Totally merciless, scorched earth, annihilating lethal firepower just like what was used against the Iranian general by President Trump, is the only way forward. Otherwise the barbaric, Jihadi hordes will overwhelm the Kaffir Sinhalese and Tamils and deal them a deadly blow, making the massacre of Easter Sunday look like a walk in the park. Send the author of this rag who is probably a senile cuckold to go preach his rubbish to old women who want to attain so called enlightenment. Give orthodox, weak, nonsense passing for Buddhism and take up the sword of DutuGemunu and wipe out the barbarians before they massacre you.

    • 6
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      Come, come Gay Chambers, why all this venom against Muslims? A little bird tells me that you were rebuffed in your amorous advances towards juveniles in the East. There are plenty of beach boys in the South. Do not carry grudges.

      • 1
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        • 3
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          Jay Chambers

          Brilliant
          Thanks for keeping it brief.
          Keep up your good work.
          Since things have become bit harder for people aren’t you going to self isolate?

  • 6
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    WAWijewardene. This is a progressive and welcome thought and let me add

    Development is usually associated with Economic Growth. No doubt, it is pivotal and necessary.
    But is it adequate and sufficient?

    Development should embody, in addition to Economic Growth education, health, poverty reduction, gender, human rights, civil and political rights, gender, environment, culture and sports.

    Does it includes religion?

    We should examine role of religion outside these elements. Because religions had historically played divisive roles.

    if not handled properly will lead to sectarian violence like nationalism.

    Fascism and fundamentalism should be avoided at all cost.

    Anyhow, Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and the so called intelligentsia and intellectuals in Sri Lanka need a lot of re-education and new thinking!

  • 2
    3

    It’s important for our President to keep a check on FUNDAMENTALISM from any religious groups. It’s time to form a National Government in SL, in order to PREVENT corruption/ Ethnic or Religious disturbances.
    We need to have some critera for the people who wants to contest the Parliamentary Elections. Reopen the applications for the Elections two months before the date of election. No need for Provincial Elections. Well qualified SLAS staff could do a much better job at a low cost to the country.

    • 2
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      Isn’t anybody tired of the old garbage being presented as brand new? So called national government was tried only a few years ago, did it prevent corruption? No. It flourished with no perceived opposition from outside. No country that’s not dealing with a war is taking this national government route as it is meant to be an EMERGENCY MEASURE not regular convenience method. The criteria is shown to be done, that depends on how certain paperwork would progress.

  • 5
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    Brilliant. Let us all practice maithri bhavana while the Tamil and Islamic terrorists take over the country. After that we can all sit and smile peacefully while the Christian evangelists baptise us.

    • 7
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      Adrian.

      you and monk Gnasara are in the same boat

      • 3
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        lankan

        “Adrian. you and monk Gnasara are in the same boat”

        Actually Adrian Aged 13 3/4 and the saffron clad thug are one and the same.

  • 4
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    That “FUNDAMENTALISM” has been “CHECKED” and “CLEARED” to enter the “National List” filed with the Election Commission by the “POHOTTUWA” party. Read the name in No. 2 of that list. That “Named” is from “UTHUKAMA”.

  • 5
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    Increase of Fundamentalism is primarily related to “Dirty Politics”. From the time Bandaranaike established SLFP, fundamentalism has increased step by step. If Bandaranaike did not add “Sanga” to the Pancha Maha Balavegaya concept, Sri Lanka would be a different country today. Once religion is given a “superior” status, then the other religions feel cornered. This paves way for the birth of fundamentalists in other religions. Politicians to date have used Religion, Race and Cast as a tool to attract votes. Under Rajapakse strategy this has grown to such an extent, today the Buddhist Monks and the Catholic Cardinal have become political animals. This has to change. Religion should be outside politics. Pancha Maha Balavegaya, has to become Sathara Maha Balavegaya – Veda, Guru, Govi and Kamkaru. May be its a good idea to bring a constitutional amendment to block religious leaders getting involved in anything related to politics including voting. They can still be advisers to State and voters on a one on one basis.

    • 0
      1

      What’s wrong with that? Problem is, some point at others as “reason of all evil” which provokes pushback from those pointed at. Scapegoating of certain social groups leads to resentment and this in turn caused the much lamented fundamentalism. In many countries, the religion that is prominent in the cultural sphere is called by name and as long as there is no imposition on the masses it causes no problem. Of course, clergy getting involved in politics is another matter since it would interfere in their credibility as religious scholars. As long as they’re helping their congregation there is nothing wrong with paying homage to clergy with other spheres of society.

  • 4
    0

    Oh geez…three articles? and counting about the topic of unchecked fundamentalism.
    So much about Hindutva and evolution, yet, not a single pronounciation of Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism in any of it.
    Says a lot about where the author stands.

  • 3
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    The only religious fundamentalists in Sri Lanka are some Muslims and some evangelical Christians. Even the LTTE were secular Marxists. In Buddhism, there is no proselytizing (forcing others to convert). On the other hand, Sinhalese nationalism is very real, but it has nothing to do with Buddhism. If you took away “Buddhism”, the nationalism would still remain. The “Buddhist” component is simply one way of promoting cultural and racial hegemony.

    • 2
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      Lester

      “Even the LTTE were secular Marxists. “

      If so why did the LTTE ethnically cleanse entire Muslim population out of northern Sri Lanka and went on a killing spree in the East?

      You have gone ga ga.
      You need a good night’s sleep.

  • 4
    0

    Thank you Dr. Wijeyawardene. A timely advice. I just read it. I like your quote from Margaret Mead.
    “… to be a full human being, a person has to grow up in a society with more than one family to care for him, to learn relationships to old and young, to both sexes, to people that are close and to people that are far away. It’s only by growing up in such a society that we become fully human.” Most of us attend our schools for 10 to 12 years. I attended two schools which was like a family of students and teachers. At 17 The Olympic Team in 1952 was also like my family – 1 Tamil, 3 Burghers and 4 Sinhalese. All of them have passed.
    I was fortunate to have lived in a village where aunts and uncles are within half-mile radius. Since childhood I was in and out of their houses as it was mine.
    In Colombo in the fifties I lived for 3 years at 137 Turret Road (Dharmapala MW now). A Sinhala family accommodated 10 of us – 4 Tamils, 1 Muslim and 5 Sinhalese students from schools and Colombo university. We had three meals and Tea together. What each of us gained is priceless.
    From 1956 I was part of two families in Los Angeles County till they passed away in late nineties.
    Your advice that we are all parts of a whole humanity. You know that the science of Chaos that state, “A whole is composed of parts. Parts are whole in itself.” Those who have seen the pictures of Fractals will understand.

    John Donne’s Meditation 17 (I think) that says, “Don’t send to ask for whom the Bell tolls. It Tolls for thee.” But will we ever learn, though Thiruvalluvar says, “Katka Kasadatha Kattapin, Nitka Athatkuthaha.” (Learn well all you can learn. After learning stand by it.) All Tamils memorise it in Primary School. But as is obvious we do not stand by what we have learnt.

    • 1
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      NE
      ‘Learn well all you can learn.After learning stand by it’.
      All Tamils memories it in Primary School.
      But they split up into various groups and create enemies of themselves
      for whose advantage?
      There were umpteen armed Tamil liberation organisations all vying against each other till they all became caput in 2009.
      Tamils have yet to learn the lessons of that fiasco.

  • 0
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  • 1
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    Welcome, Covid-19 or commonly known as Coronavirus. Your entry into a divided humanity is highly commendable. You beat the shit out of all religions and faiths who took shelter in their respective cocoons unable to conquer you through their Gods but bowed down to scientific innovations that have curtailed your advancement. Your entry is an eye-opener to humanity who stand divided by religious beliefs and your entry proved that religion is a lesson about the good and bad of life. However, unfortunate times have changed this to a scenario where every faith claims that theirs is a superior God whereas revered leaders like Siddhartha, David, Jesus, and Muhammed were human beings and had no superhuman powers but compassion and reason and a philosophy that many fellow human beings of that period did not understand. Religions and faith, over time, have become commercialized to such an extent they have become powerful monetary establishments with a blind following which, alarmingly is on the rise,

    I cannot speak for others but I welcome the deadly Covind-19 and any future viruses that appear from time to time to steamroll entire human communities impartially just to remind humans that religions and faiths are a guideline to a disciplined life without let or hindrance to the fellow human being.

    From birth to death it is the fellow human being who is at hand to give others a hand.
    However, religions and faiths, instead of uniting have only divided humanity.

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    Indeed all humans share DNA and we all evolved from the same primate ancestor. If all humans cooperated, we could end world suffering and poverty at once. Planet Earth is quite abundant. But humans will never cooperate for a common goal. Why? Because each group has a religion that tells them that they are special and everyone else is rubbish and deserves to burn in hell forever (or some similar misfortune). One needs only to think logically to realise what that arrogant belief system will do to the world. Imagine a father with 3 sons named Sine, Tame, and Muse. Sine wants all of his father’s wealth and he plots to kill Tame and Muse. Tame also want everything for him and he plots to kill Muse and Sine. Muse of course will never be happy until he killed Sine and Tame and kept all of his father’s wealth for himself. The end result is that Sine, Muse, and Tame killed each other and Donald usurped their father’s wealth.

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