CLASSIFIED | POLITICS | TERRORISM | OPINION | VIEWS





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Racism against the Sinhala could be weeded out through understanding, and terrorism through Communal Unity.

By Charles.S.Perera

After being in the hot winds of racist harangue blowing from Frankfurt, Toronto and London, it was refreshing and encouraging to read some seniors from the Tamil diaspora coming forward to explain what it had been living in Sri Lanka , and how they see the ethnic problem from their past experience of having had lived in a mixed communal environment in Sri Lanka.

It was inspiring, to read Dr.Noel Nadesan, Editor of the Uthayam , Mr.Sebastian Rasalingam, Mr.Selva Gnama, and Mr.Thomas Johnpulle, in the Lanka Guardian Website. It would be useful for the younger generation of the Sri Lanka Tamil diaspora, to read those articles by their elders.
They are much more instructive than those distorted views of Narapalasingam, quoting Mahavansa to ridicule, belittle, and insult the Sinhala, their culture and history, written to satisfy his ego. Satchi Sithanandan who writes of the excellence of Sebastian Rasalingam's article, "How "first-class" Tamils promoted the genocide of the less-fortunate Tamils of Sri Lanka. " , has difficulty getting over his own paranoia of Sinhala racism.
They cannot understand half of what is in the Mahavansa, because their understanding is what they see through their dark veils of prejudice, and hatred. A tourist guide once explained that a Hindu God represented with several heads and hands does not depict the actual number of hands and heads , but was an artistic expression of great wisdom, and energy. That is how one has to understand the lion depicted as the ancestral forefather of the Sinhala, not as a legendary lion in a cavern

It would not be too late, even for the UNP leadership to read these articles of those wise men, to learn how not to be blinded by political jealousy, and learn to accept terrorism as a debilitating national calamity, and be appreciative of the Government's handling of the situation.

I have learnt by experience that it is a vain attempt to explain, to those who have decided to be anti Sinhala, that the Sinhala have no racial bias against the Tamils, and that the Sinhala people genuinely desire peace and share it with all Communities. A Sinhala expresses his Sinhalaness as much as a Tamil expresses his Tamilness, that is the sentimental attachment to the Community to which one belongs.

The ethnicity of belonging to a community, and being Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim as a reason of that belonging is a concept that allows each one of us to escape from the greater reality of "oneness" of humanity.

The Sinhala mind is imbibed with its cultural identity that has a nexus in its belief system- the Buddhism. It is this cultural affinity with its religious philosophy, that keeps the Sinhala from being non racist. Yet attachment, aversion and delusion are human failings that in the moments of their presence blinds one to reality, and the mind gets infused with base animal instincts of aggression and revulsion, which are then transferred into bodily and verbal action. But basically the Buddhist Sinhala mind is divest of hatred, or dislike resulting from the ethnic difference.

The Sinhala have this belief in "oneness" of humanity. If we concentrate on our communal differences, they become more accentuated, such that those things that bind us such as our humanness, sharing of the environment, our inane gentleness, and our friendly acceptance of strangers recede in to the back ground and then to oblivion. Hence more we concentrate on our communal differences that separate us, more real they become.

It is the fear of isolation, and the sense of insecurity that make us identify ourselves with groups having sameness of racial, religious or linguistic identity-the Community. These communal interests then exaggerate into religious, and political differences, giving rise to ethnic conflicts.

Therefore, speaking earnestly of where one belongs, is not being racial, because it is the attachment to a group that one appropriates from the time one begins to suck the milk from the mothers breasts. It is as one grows up, with the education one receives, and the awakening of wisdom, that one begins to appreciate that belonging to a group is also belonging to a community, within a territory –a territory which does not belong to a specific community, but to all those who share it.

We do not give ourselves the trouble to understand the sameness of our selves as human beings living in however different ways, in our small Island home, with a distinctively small number of communities, three spoken languages and three religious belief systems.

It is this exaggerated acceptance of our communal belonging that has caused us all the trouble. Therefore, a way out of it is to unite ourselves into a nation without loosing our communal identity, living together sharing the same territory without trying to see only the differences that separate us from each other, but seeing all those common human traits that bind us together.

This will of course not be understood by the terrorists, who as one would say have a one track mind, therefore it would be throwing pearls before swine to speak of unity without barriers to terrorists.

However, the racism is not a problem with the ordinary people of all communities in Sri Lanka. Both the Sinhala and Tamils carry scars of those sad events of the past. But the ordinary people of all communities who had been affected by them do not hold a grudge for those sad events of the past, of which the terrorists have made a "religion". But it is the politicians who continue to keep alive racism against the Sinhala by whipping up these memories. Mano Ganesan and Chandrasekaran should forget their political future and work to bring communal unity, that is one way for them to forget that which separates usn to help build a united Nation..

The worst case of racism exist among a large number of the Sri Lanka Tamils of the diaspora. They are educated and intelligent, therefore it is they who should try to understand the Sinhala community, throwing away their coloured glasses of prejudice. Some of them are young and had never lived in Sri Lanka to understand the Sinhala people. Others have learnt about the Sinhala people from their fathers who had migrated from Jaffna after racial riots and what they say to their children about the Sinhala are from what they have heard and not what they have experiences living with the Sinhala people. More than 50 percent of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka, live in the South with the Sinhala and Muslim people. And they live in peace and amity. Even the Tamil politicians despite their verbal tirades against the Sinhala find a safe haven in the South.

Once terrorism is removed from Sri Lanka, it is important to bring the communities together by introducing programmes of understanding the culture and belief systems of one another, without inventing history theorising on our differences, but by advancing issues that bind us to one another, highlighting our common interests.

There is far too much of pent up hatred (among the Sri Lanka Tamil diaspora , local politicians of the ilk of Mano Ganeshan, Chandrasekaran and the whole lot of TNA MPs) being spread, that makes any reasonable understanding of the need for tolerance to extend the hand of friendship to the Sinhala community seems impossible. In that situation no devolution of political power will help to build unity among the communities.

Therefore, every effort has to be made to bring the Communities together without magnifying the issue of majority and Minority communities. There should be an ethnic mixture in the North as it is in the South. Once we are really united without discrimination of any sort, any remaining roots of terrorism could easily be weeded out.



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