By SV/ DailyFT-Harmony Page
Colombo, July 9: As per the news in the past week irate Sri Lankans are once again expected today to engage in a mass protest against the current hardships forced upon them. Indeed such a reaction is a democratic right and in a reality where people die in their vehicles daily in queues and where families have reduced their food to one or even half a meal a day and people desperately try to flee the country, such a reaction to wake up a seemingly sleeping government hierarchy seems necessary.
Yet, we must be aware of the gross anarchy that occurred the last time the nation saw such a protest which did nothing to help this sinking economy. Instead it plunged further into the depths of despair and distanced the chances of investment the people of Sri Lanka solely needed, especially for projects on renewable energy.
Forcing people to close their shops is reminiscent of the destructive insurgencies of 1971 and 1989 and is lethal in the bleak economic condition that we have today.
Today as we read this, it is possible that Sri Lanka will see a repetition of what we saw some weeks ago. It is to be reiterated that in the name of democracy, we cannot allow our minds to be transformed into a wild animal and that democracy does not give any of us a right to take the law into our hands. Even the worst criminal has to be judged according to the law of the land.
We saw how the ostentatious (unaccountable wealth and luxury) of some of our politicians were torched. The irony is that our own money (of us the taxpayers) will be used to renovate these houses, probably without us even knowing it. The multiple cars and bicycles that were torched will be enabled to be converted into cash through insurance.
If this mob violence did not happen and if we had legal experts educating people on how they could take alternative legally sound moves through mechanisms such as the Right to Information Act and other such routes to question how the purported servants of the people allocated a moderate income became millionaires with fancy lifestyles in a short span on time.
Having said the above, if we give the due chance for our mind to think, we will acknowledge that in the fiasco that took place this year following the first phase of the ‘Aragalaya’ that even one or two politicians known for their stringent honesty and simplicity had their houses destroyed. There is one politician who was possibly the only one of his tribe in this country to submit his finances yearly for audit who is reportedly still living in his ancestral house without doors and windows after they were torn down and looted. According to information verified with the relevant area sources he had mortgaged his house to get into politics, he does not have any robbed money to restore his family inherited home.
This above case cited will help us to ensure that we do not try to rectify a deplorable wrong by an equally deplorable wrong and attribute that to democracy. What we should do instead is to think. To think calmly even in a seeming situation where doing such would seem impossible.
Let us not forget what the Buddha taught us. That violence does not reap anything but violence and that if ever a time calm thinking is needed is when it looks impossible to achieve.
Thinking calmly does not mean docile inaction. It could mean;
Understanding that if we are talking about a system change we must understand that it is us the voters who have encouraged this blind worship of politicians.
Understand that we are the real owners of this country and given that those who we vote come to serve us only for a short time (five years) that there is much we – each of us could do – to restore our country even from this worst pit. A genuine aragalaya should actually mean that we assert our right as leaders of the nation and force solutions on our people – not chaos and destruction.
Understand that demanding one leader to leave in an impassioned anger without knowing who will replace such a vacuum only makes us short sighted pawns in a macro setting of intrigue.
Understand that mob violence and protests have been cited by several foreign countries this week to advice their nationals not to visit Sri Lanka and that this further endangers the slightest of chances of the economy benefiting even from a trickle of tourism.
Understand that according to our Constitution that the current Government could be voted out in about two more years and that in reality, the word government encompasses the people which in turn means that we should and could assert ourselves to figure out what we would do as the leaders of this country – yes we are the leaders of this country – the people – us – and to start at least now to assert that fact. Not in throngs that merely demand our basic needs but where we become leaders who learn to bring solutions without hate but with sure justice.
To reiterate: As leaders of our country we do not just wait for solutions to be given to us – we become a part of it and learn to take responsibility for ourselves.
Our university system is ruined in Sri Lanka because of the protest mania that engulfs the minds of student unions which propels our youth not towards education but to the main roads where they at most times do not even know what they are protesting about. We therefore have created protesting job dependents and not creatively and independently thinking job creators. If we are genuinely thinking about system change and economic development, then this is a key aspect of what we must be thinking about.
Thus, it is time we free ourselves from the herd mentality and learn to govern our minds towards dispassionate and unemotional thinking. For example if ‘Worst leader X’ goes home tomorrow rushed out by mobs, outside of the democratic framework, what is the chance that ‘Worse leader Y’ will not come tomorrow, rushed in thoughtlessly and without any mandate by the people.
Let us carefully study the situations of countries such as Iraq and Syria to understand that these nations notable for the protests carried out with seeming international support are today seemingly beyond redemption and neglected by the world.
Hence let us unite as a nation where our heritage specialists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, intellectuals, artists, inventors, and academics protest with their mind by careful planning to rescue Sri Lanka. We have to keep in mind that it is not just the politicians who are to blame for the current status we are in but all of us who have only thought of our own comfort zones and not that of our country.
It will be interesting to do a research on top businessmen of this country who by hook or by crook try to evade taxes while we the common people are increasingly taxed. Hence, let us look at the bigger picture and try to avoid plunging Sri Lanka into total chaos. This of course does not mean we defend regime/s that have seemingly wronged the country but rather to identify how we could hold persons within such a regime accountable without worsening the situation for the rest of us. As some immediate measure of relief for our own survival let us learn from the ‘developed’ countries where we take loans from, where the heads of states and top personalities cycle, walk or take the metro to work.
At this time it makes no sense for us to die in fuel queues inside our cars – we could shift to public transport, cycling and walking. This page has repeatedly highlighted the traditional food and medicine sufficiency we should resort to individually and learn that even in the worst of problems there is always a holistic solution.