Forgiving and forgetting is it the solution? – A reply
Posted on July 8th, 2012

By Mario Perera, Kadawata

I refer to the article by Sara De Silva which appeared in InfoLanka a few days ago. Words such as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”reconciliationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ are now very much in vogue and have become yet other instruments of domination of the self-assumed ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”blameless white societiesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and their brown and black lackeys the world over. The article presents a different post-war scenario than ideas commonly meted out on that subject. If I have any hesitation regarding the writerƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s view point it concerns what I consider a deviation from the initial rational trend of thought the writer espouses. This deviation occurs by her being eventually led to found her article on Christian ideology.

The so-called ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”civil warƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ (once again a western media invention at the behest of its masters) naturally provoked the concoction by the same ideologists, of a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”usƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ (Sinhalese) versus ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”themƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ (Tamils) framework as its background. But who were this ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”themƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢? What contradicts the word ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”themƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ meaning the Tamils as a whole is the fact that while the war unfolded, not a single act of terror, thuggery, vandalism or vendetta was perpetrated against the Tamil community safely niched among the majority population, whatever the suspicions that people may have entertained in their regard (for who could distinguish the innocent from the guilty among them?). The ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”themƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ were thus only and solely the perpetrators of terror and their allies (the present TNA and the Catholic Church fall into that category). While the TNA was always ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”one and unholyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ as an LTTE ally, the Catholic Church presented a schizophrenic front and was at no time ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”one and holyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ as it holds itself out to be.

Some of SaraƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s statements are difficult to reconcile. First we encounter the general declaration: Forgiveness has always been a sine qua non for reconciliation in every post-war setting….. The act of forgiving can take place at different levels…. Further on in her article she modifies her statement: It is one thing for the government to forgive the main perpetrators of terrorism and bloodshed in the country. But to extend and direct this gesture to a segment of the population would only further alienate a particular community, and hinder genuine social integration…At the state level, rebuilding the lives of every Sri Lankan should never be driven by a sense of forgiveness, but rather by obligation.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ Her article is focused on the theme of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”rebuilding the lives of every Sri LankanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. In the process she has recourse to three concepts being forgiveness, reconciliation and obligation, all directed at the government. Sara, makes subtle differences between ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”forgiveness and reconciliationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ which to my mind do not need much hair splitting. Indeed once the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”usƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”themƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ are identified, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”forgivenessƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”reconciliationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ lose every iota of importance, becoming totally superfluous. To my mind the only valid concept of the triad concerns the obligation of the State as regards the entirety of its citizens.

Sara differentiates between the terrorists and the Tamil community. She suggests that the government: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”forgive the main perpetrators of terrorism and bloodshed in the countryƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ but that this gesture should not be directed to a segment of the population which the Tamil community forms. I find this statement quite perplexing. Why should the government forgive the main perpetrators of terrorism and bloodshed in the country? A thirty year war was fought to the bitter end. Many terrorists died. Others were captured or surrendered. Many have been rehabilitated and set free. Others are still undergoing the process. That is it. Why this bewildering irrational suggestion that the government forgive the terrorists especially with no precedent in history to support it? It is true that Jesus Christ asked forgiveness from his father for those who cricified him, but Jesus Christ was not the head of a sovereign and independent nation. His kingdom ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”was not of this worldƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢.

Sara also draws a distinctive line between forgiveness and reconciliation. I repeat that once the issue of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”forgivenessƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ is taken out of the equation, the need for reconciliation ceases to be. This brings me to the main thrust of my article, which is a reaction to the blatant ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”christianisationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ of the whole issue of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”reconciliationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. It is treated by the western christianised nations as something akin to what transpires at the Catholic rite of confession. While Sara wants the government to forgive the terrorists and not the Tamil community, making a clear distinction between them, the American-European Union demands that Sri Lanka crave forgiveness from the Tamil community. A good confession and a firm purpose of amendment, and lo and behold the sinner is once again made white as snow (wash me and I will be made whiter than snow, says the scriptures). Sinner and God are thus reconciled. Here the nexus between forgiveness and reconciliation is all the more clear. They are inseparable. SaraƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s viewpoint is different. She says: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”no individuals should hinder the reconciliation process through the association of the government as being forgiving….. Those who prefer to emphasize that the bright future of Sri Lanka lies in forgiving and forgetting the past is dangerously mistakenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. Here Sara appears rather confused. Now she associates ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”forgivingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ with ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”forgettingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. The two concepts are as distinct as the sky is from the earth. Her Christian sentiments come to the forefront when she adopts a quote from Sr.Canice Fernando. She says: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”In the words of Sister Canice Fernando of the Holy Family Convent, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-reconciliation does not mean forgetting and forgiving but rather remembering and transformingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚…ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Indeed, it is high time for both the people and the state of Sri Lanka to remember the past, recognize the dignity and the diversity of every community, and to transform and revive the nation so that it can rise from the ashes of the Phoenix.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢

The comparison with the phoenix is misleading. It means being brought to nothingness and rising up again. This nation was never reduced to nothingness. Its ultra long history was always one of survival as a nation. Furthermore this nation always recognized the dignity and diversity of every community. If exceptions there were, they only proved the rule. Though ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”rubbings and frictionsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ inherent in national life there were, the nation never lost sight of those values. The call therefore ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”to transform and revive the nation so that it can rise from the ashes of the PhoenixƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ is a gross exaggeration and very much suggestive of the Christian concept of the resurrection after being reduced to dust. If it is high time for anything it is to stop harping on irrelevancies.

ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Remembering and transformingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. Here Sara takes us deep into Catholic ideology. The Catholic religion is entirely about ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”transformingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ nature. Catholic theology is built on the foundation of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”indelible marksƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ in the very core of the human being and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”ontological changesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢. In doing so Sara deviates from her earlier line of rational thinking. Recapitulating the governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s reconstruction of the war torn north, she says: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”While these achievements are indeed commendable and deserve utmost recognition, the question arises: is it truly conducive for certain individuals representing the state to unnecessarily project the forgiving posture of the government, in the process of rebuilding trust with the Tamils of Sri Lanka? Who exactly is it that the government has forgiven?ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ In her own words: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”Every segment of the Sri Lankan society experienced and suffered from the bloody conflict, which lasted more than two decades. Though the magnitude may vary, each and every Sri Lankan fell victim to the war in one way or the other.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ What she implies in this phrase is that there is no forgiveness to be asked from a sector of the nation when all underwent the same sufferings. In this she is absolutely right. Forgiveness implies fault and reconciliation implies the firm intention not to commit that fault. Sara admits that there was no specific fault on the part of the State against a sector of the national community. As such there was no need for forgiveness. As a logical corollary, it is redundant therefore to stress the need for reconciliation.

All these confusions in terminology were inducted by christian western super powers to affirm their moral superiority over those whom they once physically ruled in a master-knave relationship. What they demand is that this nation go on its knees before them, confess its sins, receive their absolution and then be reconciled with an imaginary singled out victim, all in order to satisfy their bloated egos. Such imbroglios place beams in the spokes of the wheels of national progress. I think our nation has to adopt a saner point of view and not take experimental medicines from unqualified physicians who are also non practicing Christians. We have to get on with our day to day lives without pride or prejudice…in other words as before, nay as always. It is idiotic to teach a nation with a 2600 year old history not to forget! Not forgetting precisely means remembering. As for ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”transformationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ (which also means ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”¹…”transfigurationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” one would remember the biblical scene of Christ being transformed or transfigured before his disciples in a display of his divinity), there is no need for such Christian idealism. The religion that formed and sustained our culture and civilization has all the spiritual answers to our problems. The opposition between Catholicism (Christianity) and Buddhism as path indicators was never better brought to light than in the exchange between Pope John Paul 11 and the Ven.Walpola Rahula. When the former, in his derogatory book on Buddhism asked: How can it (Buddhism) lead one to God? the latter answered: Buddhism has no such pretension.

All races and religions have co-existed in this blessed land since countless generations in friendship and brotherhood. For that no need for dictates from others imbibed in foreign ideologies. Let us just move on as we always did. If there is anything strained or even ruptured, the normal day to day rubbing of shoulders of the ones with the others will set them aright. Ideas will continue to travel in palanquins blurring the blue sky with their murky clouds, but the journey will always be on hard solid ground. This is the only realistic appraisal of the post-war situation in Sri Lanka. This nation is up to the task.



3 Responses to “Forgiving and forgetting is it the solution? – A reply”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    She has replaced the word EXTORTION with the fancy word SELECTIVE FORGIVENESS!!

    War winners should live like winners and war losers should live like losers. Problem solved. When winners try to live like losers and when losers try to live like winners, problems come.

    Germany reconcilised with USA (and joined NATO) when it was divided for 45 years.

  2. AnuD Says:

    Even though LTTE is annihilated I don’t think the war had been finished from their side. They are still fighting it and what do they mean reconciliation is something else. At present, though the Sri Lankan govt is trying to accommodate these western concerns it will lead no where. What do they want is completely a weak govt which allows changes to the governing system so that they can achieve what they want. Besides reconciliation, they are talking about words like good accountability, good governance like words. All those are meant to achieve their objectives.

    Every one of them, irrespective of their educational level and the experience or maturity, gets confused when they talk about reconciliation, Tamil – national question, Tamil – grievances, war crimes and what the Sri Lankan govt should do to make Tamils happy. There is a whole set of specific terminology.

    On the other hand, Sri Lankan govt is confused and they don’t know what they are doing. That is what I think.

    For tamils reconciliation means a federal state at which stage they will abandon even the screams about war crimes.
    On the other hand, church is asking all the rights to convert. That is what they describe as “democracy”. Probably, EU’s objectives are those of the Church. I think, USA has another set of objectives.

    On the other hand, I, sinhala buddhist, am worried about the day by day going down percentage numbers of the Sinhala – buddhists and the ultimate demise of the Sinhala – buddhist civilization. I have heard, In South Korea, now a majority christian country, Christians destroy buddhist shrines saying they did it in a trance because of the SATAN.

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Strong Laws to safeguard the Nation must be adhered to. That is the only way to go. Preventive Care through strong Laws including the actual Death Penalty for proven high crime, (not commuted to life imprisonment), to safeguard this Nation of 20 Million people IS Compassionate Rule. Separatism is considered high crime in the west.

    The Law and Religion should be kept apart.

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