10 December 2016
Borders of our Heritage
I was on my way to Sri Lankan Airlines to boost the morale of my heirs there. I stopped a tuk-tuk. I observed that the guy did not have a meter. I said words to the effect ‘Oh – you do not have a meter!’. The young guy asked in a humble tone - as to where I wanted to go? I said Fort – Kottuwa in Sinhalese and asked him what the charge would be? I was staying with my friend Pushpa Muthumala at Borella-Rajagiriya junction. The tuk-tuk guy said Rs.400 in Sinhalese. I said it was way too high. Then he said to state my fare. Without thinking I said Rs.200/-. He said in English – catch the Bus! I walked away and got into the next tuk-tuk which did have a meter. Soon the first tuk-tuk caught up with us and that driver said to this driver to beware of me – that I would not pay. I said to the one who was driving me that the other guy did not have a meter. These are matters that are important to me in terms of law and order.
How do we develop common order when there is little respect for the law? Having the meter is important in a multicultural society where lack trust in each other is established. The lack of trust happens when we neither relate to nor take the other as an equal. As per my observation – the ‘foreigner’ in Colombo today is not the Tamil or the Muslim but the Westerner. That was confirmed also by the first tuk-tuk guy who said to me in English to catch the bus. This would not have happened 30 before the latest war. The tuk-tuk driver switching to English reminded me of a cousin of mine who once said that she and her husband switched to English when they disagreed. I guess English helps us elevate our status.
The Sri Lankan Government may celebrate its win over the LTTE as victory over Terrorism. By accepting that LTTE was seen as Terrorists by the Sri Lankan Government, Tamils confirmed their Equal status in Sri Lanka. When identical looking Twin-acts are labeled differently by the same person such sight confirms cultural diversity which entitles one to Equal status in Democracy. Hence, those who call LTTE ‘Terrorists’ but JVP rebels – are confirming diversity and equal status to Tamils in Sri Lanka. This group is led by Politicians, including current parliamentarians.
Muthumala who was known to be an LSSP supporter – came to our home during 1977 riots to assure us of support and protection from violent Sinhalese. 39 years later when I met Muthu this time in Colombo – he confirmed that to him JVP leader and LTTE leader were of the same womb. Muthu is now a patient and hence did not talk much. But I believe that he is a facility and those of us with deep understanding in a common issue would identify with his true feelings. Feelings reside as the consolidated value of our experiences. Even during his student days – Muthu was known as Consols king amongst fellow students at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka. It was therefore little surprise that Muthu consolidated his political values too. The message below is an excerpt confirming the then LSSP Leadership’s mind, published at http://www.uthr.org/Book/CHA01.htm:
"You are fanning the worst of sentimental flames. We can fight on political ideologies, on economic principles, but when it comes to rousing people to a state of mass hysteria on issues like language, religion and race, there is no knowing where it will end. If Honourable Members had seen the spectacle I witnessed on Sunday at the Town Hall grounds, they would have been ashamed of themselves. They would have felt sorry for the future of this country... it is not enough for us merely to mouth phrases and say that the minority communities have nothing to fear from the majority community; that in the past we have got on well, and that we will get on in the same old way. That is not enough today... Today we have to do something positive to allay those fears that are increasing.. . if we do not take a positive stand, we will continue to give room for Sinhalese chauvinists to do what damage they can". -Dr. N. M. Perera, LSSP leader, in the Ceylon House of Representatives on 19th October 1955. The reference is to a meeting of the Tri Sinhala Peramuna.
When the Political mind is not capable of fighting on the common basis of political ideologies or on economic principles it breeds fear – based on the seen and the heard. Common belief – develops an automatic and natural relationship. Without either – separation is essential for harmony.
Those Politicians may or may not have seen the carnage. They tend to go into ‘hiding’ under the cloak of victory and they become blind to the carnage. This happens when one does not have an immediate Equal Opposition to show the ‘other side’. In Sri Lanka / Ceylon, until so called Independence – the Common opposition was the Colonial Leader. After declaration of independence – Tamils became the opposition to Sinhalese and v.v. Now, after threat of war-crimes against the Government – preceded by Terrorism charges by the Government – Westerners have become the opposition once again to the less educated Sinhalese whose mind is taken-over by the ambitious politician. If the politicians do not takeover, the armed forces would be rulers in Sri Lanka – as happened in Tamil areas when Tamil Politicians went beyond their true status in relation to self-governance within Sri Lanka with the stated official policy of using the system of Democracy to govern itself.
As per the system of Truth – anyone who genuinely practices Democracy has the power to invoke the other side of their investment in Democracy, at the level of their consolidated value. When they do – the system of Truth responds. In Sri Lanka, in 1977 such manifestation were limited to political level. But in 2005 – the level of manifestation went down to armed level. If we Sri Lankans leave it to the politicians – it would be worse – the next time around. We need to identify with the net consolidated value of our investment in Independence/Self-governance and raise our participation to the higher intellectual level. Towards this we need to find our Equal other side to complete the picture at the primary level and/or be driven by our Truth. We may never see victory nor even be recognized as active participants. But we would confirm our Sovereignty to the next generation through such consolidated value of our investment which to my mind is the heritage that each of our heirs is entitled to.
At Sri Lankan Airlines – Mrs. Yasmin Majeed – a Muslim introduced me – a Hindu - to some in the new team, as her first boss. In turn I confirmed that Yasmin was the best heir of my investment in Airlanka/Sri Lankan Airlines. This naturally contributes to developing Common Sri Lanka – much more than celebrating the passing away of Madam Jayalalitha – as if the lady was our Prime Minister – as many Tamil groups are doing.
In Democracy – Land determines the borders through which we present our Sovereignty. Those of us who define ourselves as Sri Lankan Tamils but celebrate the leadership of Madam Jayalalitha above other Sri Lankan women carrying forward the Tamil heritage of Independence – have already lost their entitlement to their own space in Sri Lanka and hence devolution of power within Sri Lanka. We are not part of Tamil Nadu. We need to seek and find our own leaders and celebrating them needs to happen regularly as per our own experiences. All other similarities strongly indicate plagiarism which will match Sinhala only by Indian invasion certified by such celebrations to show that which is absent within us.
A friend of mine, of Sinhalese origin said to me that she was intending to read LTTE Women leader - Thamilini’s book even though she confesses to not having read my book ‘Naan Australian’. To me Sri Lankans celebrating Madam Jayalalitha’s life are doing the parallel of my Sinhalese friend reading Thamilini’s book before reading mine which is also about my struggles to preserve my Sovereignty as an Australian of Equal status as Majority race. They are all parallels of Sinhala only and Eelam only by Sinhalese and Tamils respectively.
Sri Lankans copy each other and express their dissatisfaction as likes and dislikes but use the language of theory. In contrast – today I learnt from our daughter, about Common Australians celebrating the life of a young 31 year old colleague who died of cancer. It was heart wrenching and yet so very honorable to listen to such courage of a Great soul in a little body. That is the Australian spirit. I do not know of any Sri Lankan parallel to this lovely lady. That is an example of the message of Buddha who showed the way to Nirvana by conquering the lower mind driven by the physical. Sri Lankan Buddhists are in learning position relative to this Australian whose religion is not known to me. I don’t need to, now that we are Common Australians and even though older – I am now this lady’s Australian heir.