So Henry and I have called it quits! We have both attempted to realize that good friends could have intensely divergent views – albeit with shades of common understanding – which need not get in the way of the relationship. The reasons for the current state of the tragedy is undoubtedly the consistent denial of ‘equality’ to Sri Lankan Tamils by successive governments (as this was denied to the other minority races in the country, which hastened the departure of entire communities as well as individuals of all ethnic groups). This was followed on several occasions by pogroms targetting Tamils, the most recent being the hideous display of carnage in 1983, which made Sri Lanka a pariah in the eyes of the international community and made all decent, civilized Sinhalese ashamed of their race. And of course, this hastened and intensified the conflict – with awesomely terrible consequences.
In Henry’s view, children of any community do have the right to fight for their rights, whether the ‘fighting’ be with a weapon or in any other way. I share this view, but only on condition that the child is ‘informed’ of all aspects of what he or she is getting in to and that he or she could decide to leave if the experience is found to be not to his or her liking. I believe that children have the right to decide – either way. The great tragedy here is, as Henry so succinctly puts it, is that the Tamil child has been subjected to a lifetime of the most horrendous experiences that include being brutalized, raped and seeing their loved ones killed in the most horrible ways. And this is one of the main reasons for them having no compunction with regard to picking up the gun. However, I also strongly believe that it is wrong to force children to kill and maim – whatever the cause.
The result of our frequently contentious ‘discussions’ is that Henry and I have reached common consensus with regard to a deeper understanding and that is, we must all realize that until and unless we deal with the real causes of the disease, the symptoms will persist and the disease will never be cured. If we really, genuinely desire an end to war, with all its attendant horrors, then we must persuade as many of those around us that it is time we put aside racism, majoritarianism, religious fundamentalism and a militaristic approach to solving our ethnic issue.
We wonder, will the idea of pushing for the confinement to barracks of all fighting forces of the GOSL and the LTTE for a given period of time during which genuine, comprehensive and intense negotiations are undertaken to reach a just and durable peace based on the agreements reached during the six rounds of peace talks, and, in particular, the Oslo declaration, be feasible or even possible? What do you think? Do you think the LTTE would be agreeable? Do you think the GOSL would? I guess the answer to this will only be found if the attempt is made – and so we must all endeavour to make it – for ourselves, for our children and for our children’s children and the successive generations to follow. So now, in spite of the different views on one aspect of the conflict, Henry and I have a greater cause to persist in – and that is to try to find a way to shift the collective consciousness in order to bring about a true understanding of the problem and to find the solution to ending this pointless and destructive conflict. In the end, equality must prevail – regardless of race, religion, caste or any other reason that promotes prejudice and discrimination – so that harmony and justice will rule, rather than hatred, bigotry and violence.
What do you think? And will you join us in the effort? Haven’t we had enough of this bullshit???
Note: One more time! Before friends and acquaintances get to guessing who ‘Henry’ really is, let me ease your apprehensions. ‘Henry’ is a composite of a variety of individuals with whom I have discussed various aspects of the conflict, its causes and effects and ‘his’ views expressed by me in this piece do not reflect directly on any one individual. It is, however, an expression of views that do exist.