Mother Lanka has no doubt had to shed copious tears for 30 long years during which period the ethnic conflict raged in all its fury between the minority Tamil community and the majority Sinhala community due to the former’s demand for a separate state.
Apparently now the militants of the minority community, who master-minded the conflict have been militarily destroyed but not silenced, and there is an uneasy calm prevailing in the battlegrounds, where the the worst of the violence took place and both the minority community and the majority community have had to pay an enormous price by way of human life and destruction of property.
I am sure the readers are well aware of the history relating to this conflict and the ultimate victim was Mother Lanka whose agony and anguish has moved her to the shedding of much tears just as it happened
Be that as it may, today the reason for Mother Lanka’s tears is something altogether different. Mother Lanka as we all are aware is a multi ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious nation which is politically a multi-party democracy. In such an environment conflicts are bound to arise.
Notwithstanding this fact, I wish to state at the outset in this first segment that religion and spiritual development of an individual or rather the lack of it as the main reason for much heart-aches which has caused immense sorrow for Mother Lanka for the reason that without a firm spiritual foundation the moral values of a nation would be undermined.
Therefore I wish to pose the question as to how far the major religions have contributed towards ensuring that people of all communities and religions live amicably with each other as sons and daughters of Mother Lanka up-holding moral and ethical values,? Is the weeping of Mother Lanka caused due to her dissatisfaction and disappointment as a result of the failure on the part of the major religions to bring about this situation?
If so why have they failed? Was it due to the fact that they have been merely paying lip service to the tenets of their faith and confining the practice of their religion to the observance of rituals while giving scant regard to the importance of living according to the teaching of its founders. ?
We have to seek honest answers to these questions deeply exploring the underlying reasons as to why the religious leaders have allowed religion to be exploited and misused by politicians to create division among the communities that exist in this nation and thereby achieve their ulterior motives?
Since Buddhism is given priority and pride of place in the Constitution of Sri Lanka, it is pertinent to ask those who are supposed to be repositories of Buddha’s teachings and preachers of Buddhist Philosophy, who are expected to exemplify the teachings of the noble Gautama the Buddha in their manner of living, whether they are really fulfilling this obligation or acting in violation by being all too eager to encourage followers to go the way of politics and politicians who hanker after power and cheap popularity and thirst for monetary benefits whose conduct is anything but moral and is the antithesis of the doctrines of Buddhism which emphasizes the practice of dhana, sila and bahavana and admonishes to observe moral conduct.
In this second segment of causes, I wish to touch on a matter, which is as important to the public life of the citizens of Mother Lanka as religion, which is politics the playing field of many who aspire to easy money. It is in this arena of politics over which the sons and daughters have to engage in much soul searching introspection, in order to create a disciplined and morally upright society and stem the bitter tears of Mother Lanka.
The fact that Sri Lanka is a multi-party democracy is in itself detrimental to the efficient functioning of the democratic process for the reason that, when there are an unlimited number of minor parties contesting an election the two major parties (UNP & SLFP) which have been alternatively ruling the country have to seek their assistance to form a stable government, as a result of which a power struggle takes place with the bargaining power of the minor parties becoming stronger.
If at all one of the major ruling parties forms a government in a coalition with the support of the minor parties, whose agenda may not altogether be compatible with those of the majority party, thereby the stability of the government is threatened. It is the nature of Sri Lankan politics to put the interest of the party before those of the country which is very unfortunate consequent to which, the politicians in power will not think twice about plundering the country for their own benefit due to this mentality of putting the cart before the horse and having no sense of accountability. The representatives elected to Parliament to serve the people have been very often been found to be serving themselves instead, being induced to subvert the process of good governance through corrupt practices with the acceptance of bribes, and betraying the trust the people have reposed in them.
Politicians who claim to be Catholic though few in number, are ever more confident in declaring their Catholicism, but when it comes to the crunch, they are not exactly St. Thomas More.
The massive financial frauds, money laundering and the criminal breach of trust, that have rocked the economy of the nation to its chief financial foundations by defrauding an Institution such as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, is a fact that is all too well known and the Central Bank Bonds investigation Commission and the outcome, about which it has been extensively reported by the secular media consequent to the perpetration of which, heavy financial burdens have been placed on the people and making the nation to be ridden with an insurmountable debt burden.
When Parliament meets, much of its member’s time is taken up in disparaging accusation being levelled by the opposition against the government and vice versa, thus wasting precious time and the tax payer’s money in a futile exercise without utilization of it gainfully for discussing policy matters that affect the development of the country.
How many out of the 225 members in Parliament, who claim to hold high moral ground can truthfully say according to the dictates of their conscience, that their political career is pure white as the garment they are attired in when they critically point fingers at each other and indulge in such fruitless and wasteful behavior, when the country is already having a massive debt burden on her shoulders? Is this the reason for which they were sent to Parliament? Is this not a good enough reason for Mother Lanka to weep?
The third segment which has caused Mother Lanka to weep in anguish is over the degradation of the environment and the extensive and wanton destruction of its fauna and flora. An incident which I would like to highlight is the killing of protected species of mammal according to Section 30(2) of the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, where a leopard which is a protected species was brutally killed in cold blood, an act that was most disgusting and morally reprehensible and should be condemned in no uncertain terms.
As it is all too evident that if we harm the environment it would consequently impact unfavourably and disastrously on the living conditions of the people which situation was faced by the nation due to the recent upheavals and havoc caused by cyclonic winds, torrential rains, floods and landslides as a result of which many people were rendered homeless and their livelihoods destroyed due to lack of proper planning by the powers that be, not forgetting the prolonged periods of droughts causing depletion of water resources.
Encroachment of forest reserves by human settlements, paving the way for human –elephant conflicts about which wide and regular coverage and publicity was given in the daily news reports telecast by the electronic and print media. Destruction of elephant habitations due to the opening up of forest lands for chena cultivation thus depriving the elephant population of their natural habitats and elephant corridors resulting in human and elephant casualties giving further reason for Mother Lanka to voice her loud and long lamentations.
When writing about the environment there is an important aspect which is peculiar to Sri Lanka is the manner of garbage disposal which has a serious impact on the environment.
Neither the present government nor any of its predecessors had attempted at making a sincere and concerted effort to work out and implement a technically viable plan of action for the disposal of garbage, as a result of which there has been large scale pollution of the environment. In this context, I quote from the Encyclical letter “Laudato Si” No.139 “care of our common home” of His Holiness Pope Francis, wherein he speaks saying “when we speak of the “environment” what we really mean is a relationship that exists between nature and society which lives in it. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves, or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it”
Fourth and final segment about which Mother Lanka moans and groans is the breakdown of the law and order situation and the escalation of violence perpetrated against society individually and by way of organized crime and related to it is the ever increasing infiltration of a large quantity of contraband drugs into the country insidiously targeting the school going population, which are being detected on a daily basis by the Police Narcotics Bureau and reported in the secular news media. The situation seems to be so alarming and appears to be getting out of control, so much so that the President has deemed fit to implement the death penalty selectively on those convicted to death by the courts for trafficking in drugs and still persisted in masterminding the drug cartels, while languishing behind bars in the Welikada prison, for the express purpose of eradicating the drug menace. In this context it is pertinent to ask, are those who are responsible for enforcing law and order failing to carry out their responsibilities? Is there a lapse on the part of Prison officials in strictly enforcing Prison regulations? Is there a break-down of law and order? Why is there an escalation of crime be it organized or otherwise? Why is there so much disrespect for law and order and for those entrusted with the task of enforcing it? Are the lawmakers protecting encouraging and giving refuge to the lawbreakers for political or personal gain or making use of those so called under-world gangs to carry out attacks against their political opponents?
Mother Lanka will continue to weep until she gets satisfactory answers to these questions and crime is totally eradicated from this Island nation which may be a Utopian dream – let us dream the impossible dream, let us do what is possible and leave the impossible in the hands of God, for nothing is impossible for God and in He will make this nation assured of a safe dwelling place for His sons and daughters to live in peace and harmony making Mother Lanka smile again.
- Ridley Casie Chitty
(A concerned citizen of Sri Lanka)