So, what now?

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - W JUNE - TEXT CHANDI PER­ERA

WE ARE MUCH SMARTER THAN THE POLITI­CIANS THINK WE ARE. WE ARE FAR MORE DIS­CI­PLINED NOW THAN W WERE IN THE EIGHT­IES. DIYAWANNA MAY LACK IN THAT AREA BUT WE, THE VOTER, WE’VE GROWN THROUGH THE THIRTY SOME­THING YEARS OF TUR­MOIL AND WE MAN­AGED OUR LIVES

One and a half months have gone by and the tragedy is qui­etly mov­ing to the back seats of memories of those who were not directly af­fected by it. For those who lost a family, a loved one or maimed for life, the memory will be etched for­ever in their minds, through their life time. Un­less a great deal of sup­port and where nec­es­sary ther­apy and coun­selling is done, I can­not imag­ine, how cop­ing will take place.

We are a na­tion that lived through over thirty years of war. The dif­fer­ence I see is, then, we knew our enemy. Fight­ing a force that is iden­ti­fied, in my hum­ble opin­ion is far eas­ier than fight­ing an ide­o­log­i­cal enemy that has taken root in the hearts and minds of a set of peo­ple, who we call ex­trem­ists. Who can know the hearts and mind but God Almighty?

As an or­di­nary mem­ber of the gen­eral pop­u­lace of Sri Lanka, I do have an opin­ion, which I am not shy to ex­press.

Car­nage was cre­ated by a small segment of an eth­nic group that had gone south of the border, with their ide­ol­ogy. We heard the larger pop­u­lace of that eth­nic group con­demn­ing the heinous act in one ac­cord and with one voice. Right think­ing mem­bers of the larger eth­nic group in Sri Lanka should con­tinue to think right, and set that de­mar­ca­tion right, be­tween the ex­trem­ists and the gen­eral pop­u­lace of that eth­nic group. The en­tire Mus­lim com­mu­nity should not be cat­e­gorised as ex­trem­ists, just be­cause a few of them turned tur­tle in their be­liefs. The com­mu­nity, how­ever, has a re­spon­si­bil­ity on their hands and heads to en­sure that when we set that de­mar­ca­tion of in­no­cence, that the in­no­cent Mus­lims do stay in­no­cent and help­ful, through the process now tak­ing place. To the ex­tent our Mus­lim brothers and sis­ters stay au­then­tic in their in­ten­tions to­wards peace and rout­ing out ex­trem­ism, to­gether we will flour­ish. We are not against you but against an ex­trem­ist ide­ol­ogy that will first, im­pact and ad­versely af­fect you, dear Mus­lim brothers and sis­ters.

Then, I would like to place be­fore the reader the var­i­ous ver­bose bar­rage that seems to ooze out of some nit-wit­ted politi­cians. As the same right think­ing larger eth­nic group, it will be well with all our souls if the Sin­hala Bud­dhist ma­jor­ity cast away such ill-timed com­ments and do not di­gress from the is­sue at hand. Namely, fight­ing a com­mon enemy called ex­trem­ism. We are much smarter than the politi­cians think we are. We are far more dis­ci­plined now than we were in the eight­ies. Diyawanna may lack in that area but we, the voter – whether it is Sin­hala Bud­dhist, Sin­hala Chris­tian or Sin­hala Mus­lim or Tamil Catholic, Hindu, Malay or Burgher, we’ve grown through the thirty some­thing years of tur­moil and we man­aged our lives. Didn’t we? So, let the ill-timed, ill-worded po­lit­i­cal com­ments go where they be­long where all ‘kunu’is sup­posed to go. Lets’ stay firmly rooted in peace among our­selves, whatever re­li­gion or eth­nic­ity we be­long to, and fight this com­mon enemy – let me repeat re­li­gious ex­trem­ism.

I am a Sin­hala Chris­tian by con­vic­tion. I have many Sin­hala Bud­dhist friends that some­times put me to

shame, with their deco­rum, pa­tience and quiet sup­port in any sit­u­a­tion. My good friend Sathy, is a clear ex­am­ple of this kind of Sin­hala Bud­dhist. I would re­spect­fully place be­fore the Sin­hala Bud­dhist ma­jor­ity, that we too, are Sri Lankans. We too, be­long in this coun­try and Sri Lanka IS our MOTH­ER­LAND too. So when your re­li­gious lead­ers go on a ver­bose ram­page, please ask them to en­sure that it is against this com­mon enemy called ex­trem­ism and not against the rest of us, who love peace and quiet liv­ing in our moth­er­land. We have no quar­rel with you. Don’t let any politi­cian take you down the wrong path of re­li­gious an­i­mos­ity ei­ther.

Fi­nally, I’d like to salute our Tri­forces and the po­lice. They re­stored a sem­blance of nor­malcy but they will also know that much more needs to be done, to en­sure the enemy is fully routed out. Re­it­er­at­ing my con­fi­dence in them to do their job on Sri Lankan soil, I trust God, for an ul­ti­mate so­lu­tion of a last­ing peace that He alone can bring. Af­ter all, the enemy we fight now is pri­mar­ily in the hearts and minds of a set of peo­ple. Who can deal with the work­ing of the inner-man but God?

Stay open minded, stay vig­i­lant and stay re­spon­si­ble.

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