A violent confrontation occurred between students of two groups at the University of Jaffna, with six students being hospitalized. This was a distressing event for all Sri Lankans since it reminded us of the agonizing history of the motherland. The brawl between our university students gave us a ghastly glimpse of the elusive future which seems very probable.
Reports even claimed that shouts saying “This is a sinhala state. You can’t do whatever you want” was heard. My goal is to not question if the pro Sinhala group or the pro tamil group was right, rather to ask how did we end up in ‘another’ situation like this? The simple answer: racist propaganda.
I woke up in a melancholic state, which soon escalated to a momentary anger after reading articles from perverted websites which referred to our country as ‘genocidal SriLanka’.
I personally hold these racist groups accountable for sparking tension between races. I believe the objective of using such terminology was for the purpose of unprincipled commercial gain to attract viewers. However naive minds forget (or maybe ignore) the atrocious result of fallacious reporting. No! our country is not genocidal! Yes, some people may have cruel intentions but the majority of us are morally reasonable humanists. My anger was only temporary as I understood that fuming over an isolated incident results simply makes the situation worse.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” ― Mark Twain
The Root Cause
Instead of damaging our vessel Sri Lanka, I decided to ask myself the question how? The fight may have been a result of anger but in reality anger was only the spark to the dynamite. The dynamite has been implanted in our youth by a misapprehended ideology of the previous generations. Groups but an unanticipated fallacy is a great danger to Sri Lanka. The harsh truth is that we are all engineered to become racists. During our childhood we were taught of the different races of Sri Lanka and the dignified cultures that enriched our esteemed history. But as we grew up a sudden calamity of misinterpreted-reality struck and intimidated us to look at our differences. Then it began, the dynamite creeped into the innocence of childhood, which outgrew our natural humanity.
We were told that people of different races or religions are a potential danger to us. Racist extremist groups from either side that classifies either the ‘sinhala’ group as villains or the ‘tamil’ group as the villains are amongst this. Instead of embracing our differences, we were even told (by groups like jool) that we have to fight to protect our race or religion even at the expense of human life, resulting in a mentality of segregation. Selfish political and economic agendas manipulated the youth into believing in a segregative ideology resulting in a war against terrorism. Society accepts that after 26 years of traumatizing bloodshed “We won the war”. However…
“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”— Plato
Sri Lanka will have great scientific, economic or social success but never can we call war a success. The government may have won the war against the LTTE but as a country we lost a lot more in value than any victory could ever give back to us. The first step in solving this problem is to accept the existing one.
Ignorant denial is of great jeopardy for our nation, so let us accept that racism is a problem that Sri Lanka faces. Racists do not just appear on stages barking restlessly advocating hate against minorities but, It contains individuals with PhD’s and individuals who may have never gone to a school. My example demonstrates that morality is not defined by a one’s education. I will pay you the compliment of assuming that you are not a racist bigot, but let us communally create awareness within the ignorant people. Not by formidable intimidation but by rational debate and exemplification of the recent history.
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”— Maya Angelou
Let us detach ourselves from conservative dogma and liberalize our nation with a progressive society which will work towards a common goal for the improvement of Sri Lanka. We are fortunate to be born into the generation of the internet; obviously making our intellectual world view grow exponentially, but approximately 70% of Sri Lankans do not have this facility. Which means 70% by default do not have access to progressive articles like this. Which in turn results in their manipulation by the existing racist culture. Therefore you have the responsibility to educate your citizens.
I have an eccentric habit to speak about ‘sensitive’ topics with strangers I meet in public. Despite being advised not to (due to potential physical harm) by my parents if I see individuals having a racist mindset, I try to diplomatically educate them on the negative effect of such radical ideologies.
Jaffna University was considered the best up and coming state university in Sri Lanka. Since it’s reopening they didn’t seem to get involved with any of the useless drama that “Anthare” seem to get involved in. However, this situation makes me think: can the University of Jaffna become the linchpin to a dark future? Frankly, I would hate to see that happen. This university and her students were possibly one which I and many others looked up to and respected.
Don’t be afraid to become an outspoken humanist. I believe respectably voicing your opinions for the greater good of Sri Lanka against racism is our duty. We have to collectively work towards a reasonable and humane society. We will always have a difference of opinion, that is a sign of a democratic progressive society. Learn to debate and respect the views of another. Do not let a simple argument escalate to a physical confrontation or even worse.
I hope that our youth will not repeat the mistakes of our predecessor’s rather love our motherland with genuine patriotism. Simply, don’t become a racist!