Patriotism, Nationalism and Sri Lanka today
Posted on September 27th, 2012

By Mario Perera, Kadawata

 There exists a big gap, a wide gaping, even abysmal hole, between concepts and realities, between ideas and life as it is lived. Such values as patriotism and nationalism are deep seated attitudes to be expected in ordinary citizens of a country. They are considered as being normal, so much so that their absence in some elicits damning condemnations from poets and writers of all times. The English poet predicted that such persons would “ƒ”¹…”doubly dying go down to the vile dust from whence they sprang, unhonoured and unsung‘.

These virtues are brought to the forefront among those sharing ‘culture, language and heritage’ most especially at crucial times in a nation’s history. In Sri Lanka such a crucial time was the period of war. When such decisive periods recede from the conscious world of a people, so do also thoughts of patriotism and nationalism. In day to day living, such ideas and ideologies, existing submerged in the sub-conscious have a very limited field of play or no field of play at all. This makes such concepts barren for all purposes.  Laying emphasis on them is often akin to beating a dead horse. It is no secret that we live in times when the glimmer of gold, worthless titles and cheap popularity vastly outweighs all religious values leave alone the Spartan virtues of patriotism and nationalism.

In day to day life what should take precedence over such notions as patriotism, nationalism, and all other, is the concept of justice. Justice then becomes the embodiment of all national virtues, incorporating all of them. This is more than a concept. Just look at the countless thousands that flock to courts of law to have justice done. I think a true patriot and a true nationalist is one who is truly concerned with the administration of JUSTICE, as this the field in which all abstract concepts, even those that come to the fore only off and on, find a concrete and impartial application.

Justice, in more practical terms, law and order, becomes the level playing field in which the selected or elected players call them, democrats, patriots, nationalists, or any other, are called on to display and demonstrate their identities and content. Woefully, in our country, the players are a disgrace to the playing field. They are like hooligans left to run amok on a hallowed ground. We have reached the most disheartening, depressive and tragic situation where there are elections (apparent democracy in practice), law makers, law courts, upholders of the law of all sorts, BUT NO JUSTICE. The traditional image of justice as a blindfolded lady holding a balance impartially has no relevance to Sri Lanka. The blindfold of our lady justice has eye-holes, while the free hand holds prejudicial weights to tip the scales according to whims and fancies.

Today, in our country, the very playing field that is justice is in wrack and ruin being transformed into a garbage deposit, a veritable gutter. When the very play ground of Justice is so devastated, those who tread it are gutter snipe who love to wallow in the muck. To add insult to injury some such hoodlums brandish honorary doctorates like kitchen knives! What more can we say of our nation’s sense of values? When justice is in tatters, what does it serve to speak about patriotism and nationalism? When the reality of justice recedes from the public view, all other highly vaunted notions, including patriotism and nationalism, lose their bearings and their meanings. They are no longer worth the ink wasted on them.

Getting back to what the English poet, Sir Walter Scott said of patriotism, that was a time when “ƒ”¹…”honour’ was dearer than life, and its deprivation, worse than death. Going down to the vile dust unhonoured and unsung was the greatest humiliation that could beset a human being. In contrast, we live in times when those who have for all purposes sprung up from the “ƒ”¹…”vile dust’ are those most “ƒ”¹…”sung’ about, and the most “ƒ”¹…”honoured’. It is of them that the “Minstrels’ raptures swell”. How then can we speak of “ƒ”¹…”values’ when before our very eyes, “ƒ”¹…”judgment has gone to brutish beasts‘?

Being bereft of the reign of justice our nation has cut the ground from under its feet. It reminds me of the boy showing off his new bicycle and his cycling talent to his father, by letting go the handle and the pedals and even closing his eyes, crying out joyfully: See Papa, no hands, no feet, no eyes. With no justice to guide us we have indeed become a nation of free wheelers. Patriotism and nationalism, exalted personal virtues thought they are, do not nevertheless exist in a vacuum. They are related to the society we live in. The gum that binds a nation together is its rulers. It is around them the people group together seeking security and well-being. Yet that trust has been eroded, and with it the sense of patriotism and nationalism as well.  That the mighty and the wealthy live up to the adages: “ƒ”¹…”Newa gilunath ban choon’ and “ƒ”¹…”heta merunath hithata sepai ada joli karala’, is an obvious fact and an irrefutable conclusion, a bitter pill this trusting nation must swallow.

 In a country ruled by such epicurean, lawless State sponsored groups, the notions of patriotism and nationalism are too far fetched for the simple citizen to bank on. The endeavour to inculcate them with pep talks must end up eventually like water on ducks’ backs. Ruled by physicians who cannot cure themselves, the country will continue to be what is actually is: a seemingly robust body but afflicted by the cancer of lawlessness caused by the breakdown of the system of justice. With the death of justice (selective justice is on a caricature of justice), its immediate dependants, democracy, patriotism and nationalism cannot survive other than as a farce.

What this country is living through today is the phase of that farce


15 Responses to “Patriotism, Nationalism and Sri Lanka today”

  1. David Appuhami Says:

    Latest News- A news Report says Major assaulted by Malaka to be removed
    It was also reported that a dinner was held to celebrate Malaka’s release through state patronage. Malaka’s lawyers as well as those of the aggrieved party, in this instance the Major, have also attended the dinner. After the dinner, Malaka together with his friends and Iranian girl friend have gone to night clubs to continue the party.

    Meanwhile The President has decided to remove Major Chandana Pradeep Soorasena from the Army Intelligence Unit, who was assaulted by Minister Mervyn Silva’s son, Malaka and later came forward to save the ministerial son. The decision to remove has been made in order to cover the negative impact the incident has had on the government and the military.

    Presidential advisors have noted that some action had to be taken against the people’s rising objections against the fact that the Major had betrayed the Army. The Army Commander has appointed a three member committee to inquire into the incident and recommend the future course of action.

    It is learnt that these actions are aimed at misleading the public as usual. The Army Commander has taken this step on a Presidential directive following the public sentiment against the entire court drama between Malaka and the Major.

    Intelligence head of the Defence Ministry retired Major General Hendevitharana has assured the Major on a Presidential directive that he would be offered an overseas job after his removal from the force and that the future prospects of his family would be taken care of.
    The Report further says one of Mervyn Silva’ sponsors have already come forward to make an immediate payment of a sum of Rs. 1 million to the Major.

    Fort Magistrate Kanishka Wijeratane had also got involved in the court drama following and order from the Presidential Secretariat. He had continuously questioned the Major on the incident at the last court hearing according to the script of this political drama.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    “Malaka’s lawyers as well as those of the aggrieved party, in this instance the Major, have also attended the dinner.”

    What on earth!

    This is a joke. Looks like this Major also has things to hide. What are the chances Chandana and Malaka were BOTH in a racket, a disagreement happens (they OFTEN happen in this kind of business!!), Malaka’s crowd assaults him and they all patch up to save the BIG FISH?

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    31 congressmen have written to Hilary Clinton saying:

    “Thus far, there is no indication that the UNHRC resolution has had any significant impact on the Sri Lankan government’ response to the issue, and cautions that without strong oversight from the State Department, it will be easy for the Rajapaksa administration to make excuses for failing to adhere to its obligations [in the UNHRC resolution] during the March 2013 session.”

    This is a dangerous development.

    SL should take note of it and do something NOW to tell Blake not to interfere. Otherwise this will snowball into a bigger issue.


    31 US congressmen in TGTE payroll.

  4. Sunil Vijayapala Says:

    Now every Major or higher official in the Armed Forces will get involved in hammering sons of Ministers, as that will pave way to better their lives and their families. Undoubtedly the country has gone down the cesspit and it’s the laughing stock of the world, thanks to a leader who is incapable and reluctant to take on corruption head on.

  5. Sam Perera Says:

    It seems that President Rajapakse is oblivious to the sentiment of Sri Lankan masses in this case to allow Mervin to mock the entire nation. Regardless, the future for Mervin and his canine family may not be good.

  6. Dilrook Says:

    I agree with the writer. None of these can survive in the absence of justice.

    That’s not all. Patriots and nationalists who defend the nation against virulent attacks over alleged war crimes and excess of force are ashamed and without words. They fight a losing battle in apparent contradiction to what they know and feel.

    In short Sri Lanka is losing the battle against allegations of war crimes, human rights violations and a politicised legal system. Seeing this, the government sinks deeper into corruption allowing India and USA various benefits hoping their allegations will stop. But they don’t.

    These events give oxygen to now weak human rights activists.

    As a victim of government goons, thuggery and political victimisation for 20 years, the President must know what it is to be at the receiving end.

    MP Silva has created so many bad controversies that he is the single most destructive element in the government. Even he will cross the floor as he did when the ruling clan loses the next national election whereupon the ruling clan will face war crimes and human rights abuse charges.

    Patriots and nationalists must pursue human rights investigations and make use of war crimes allegations against the government to force it to toe the line. The fear of losing power and facing war crimes charges soon afterwards is a reality. It will happen as the entire opposition is united on that. The only way the ruling clan can avoid it is by upholding the law and bringing prosperity to voters that matter.

    Election results indicate people don’t support thuggery. Well known violent elements including Berty Premalal and Chandrakanthan lost their Chief Minister posts to more popular and less aggressive politicians.

    Loyalty to the nation is not loyalty to the ruling clan; especially today.

  7. nilwala Says:

    Good subject for contemplation as long as we remember that the history of patriotism itself is fraught with struggles for justice. Patriotism does not exist by itself without some just cause to make it manifest. In Sri Lanka, patriotism which lies dormant in the Sinhala people is aroused when injustices occur that bring into memory the injustices inflicted upon the Sinhala people over centuries of colonialism, and when the privileged groups that prospered under the colonials still try to assert their privileges using the support of the now ex-colonials. Justice for one group must always consider the injustices to the other in bringing about resolution/reconciliation to a problem. But if the claim of injustice is used as part of strategy and tactic to achieve some other agenda, then Justice is turned on its head. Let us not allow that to happen even as we are concerned about Justice and accept it to be the arbiter of modern society that ‘levels the playing field’ as the author notes.

  8. jayt Says:

    let see what happen. I urge all sl people try be friendly. mean stop attacking US secretary and or us or any western country as good will and SL have to see what their response.

    but if they chose hostile term, they know what is sl and ex pats rights.

    It is not a problem to go in front of the world.

    last one is court case and it will be a simple start in Canada and automatically move into us and Europe

  9. jayt Says:

    if things does not work, I will personally move a lawyer in national capital allowing ex pats and world support to flow in
    we will not lose but history is about to change

  10. jayt Says:

    who will be charge and what will be in court hearing list, they know it. this is a world matter not just sl

  11. Mihindukula Says:

    I have seen many intellectuals, professionals, patriots writing in this forum expressing their dissatisfaction with the deteriorating law and order situation in Srilanka where the government is keeping a blind eye. If the president is helpless in remaining in power without tolerating the nonsense as many have written in these columns let peace loving patriotic Srilankans, living in Srilanka and abroad who can afford to work for the country voluntarily for a few years at his own expense without earning a cent on a real patriotic way to form a forum to establish a shadow cabinet and a parliament in order to support the president at the next election provided he discards the unruly mobs surrounding him in the parliament and in the local government. Otherwise if things continue as it is, his downfall is imminent and winning the war will be only history.

  12. MuhammadFS Says:

    As a Muslim I’m appalled by the conduct of some Muslims including some Srilankan Muslims. This is not what Islam is.

    Islam is not about violence and intolerance. Islam is about peace.

    How many Muslims were killed by America and Zionist in the last month?
    Less than 100.

    How many Muslims were killed by Muslims in the last month?

    Open eyes and see what is going on before blaming.

    Syria, Iran, Eraq, Saudiarabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Yemen, Mali, Somalia, Sudan………

    We Muslims are killing our own Muslim brothers. What is the end result?

    May Allah (PBUH) make Muslims see they kill each other to extinction.

  13. Fran Diaz Says:

    What is Patriotism ? It is to Care for the country that feeds, shelters and protects us all. Care about its People.

    Patriotism begins in our Homes, Schools, Offices, and govt. & private institutions.

    It’s high time Sri Lanka introduced an Oath of Allegiance in schools, armed forces, Parliament, GoSL offices, and all other govt. and private institutions, to be taken at least once a week.

    The trouble in Sri Lanka, apart from being situated in the ‘new Silk Route’, is that various people bring in problems from all over the world to sort it out in Sri Lanka by bifurcating, or tri-furcating this small island Nation. At the end of the day, balkanizing Sri Lanka will gain nothing except lining the pockets of a few people !

    Drugs are being used to bring down the country. Drug lords must be dealt with in the toughest manner possible.

  14. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    I agree with Mihindukula
    “let peace loving patriotic Srilankans, living in Srilanka and abroad who can afford to work for the country voluntarily for a few years at his own expense without earning a cent on a real patriotic way to form a forum to establish a shadow cabinet and a parliament in order to support the president at the next election provided he discards the unruly mobs surrounding him in the parliament and in the local government. Otherwise if things continue as it is, his downfall is imminent and winning the war will be only history”.
    All retired expat academics and other professionals are willing to run Universities in Sri Lanka as voluntary workers.
    President should really consider this option

  15. Dilrook Says:

    Singaporean drug laws must be introduced in the island. These laws are considered draconian and that’s exactly what is needed.

    All those who possess, trade or otherwise deal in drugs must be executed upon a summary trial. An exemption (conversion to life imprisonment) may be awarded to those who co-operate to unearth drug dealerships.

    Drug exports from Afghanistan and Pakistan are expected to increase many folds after 2014 when coalition forces leave Afghanistan. Required legal, police and customs practices must be in place by now.

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