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The pronouncements have been coming in thick and fast, so much so that Java has been muttering under his breath about George Orwell getting his dates wrong by about twenty-five years.

We’re not exactly sure of the order of the pronouncements, but the ones to catch our attention were the ones about banning ‘adults only’ films, taking off the porn sites (again, not sure of the extent of this exercise) that could be accessed by Sri Lankans at home, banning school children from having mobile phones in school, getting heavy on the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs and generally creating an atmosphere that seems (to freedom loving folks anyway) to be very ‘Talibanish’, or repressive. And if this is only the beginning, God (for want of a more suitable term) help us!

Just what the hell is going on with the mindsets of those in power? The recent victory over the enemy created a sense of relief and hope in most of us – hope of ‘reconciliation’ and ‘rehabilitation’, not to mention hope to have the freedom to move around without restraint and paranoia. However, it doesn’t appear that much has changed, particularly considering the fact that efforts are underway to increase the number of soldiers by many thousands. Does any of this make sense to anyone other than those who are making these decisions?

‘Freedom’ is loosely defined as ‘the ability to act freely – a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions’. Obviously there is a whole lot more that is encompassed by the term and there are many different types of ‘freedom’. For instance, the section on ‘political freedom’ in Wikpedia, states: “Political freedom can be described as the absence of interference with the sovereignty of an individual by the use of coercion or aggression, a definition which is also known as negative liberty. Political freedom can also be described as having the power and resources to act to fulfill one’s own potential, as in the definition of positive liberty. Presumably within both definitions, the members of a free society have full dominion over their public and private lives but positive liberty addresses the notion of human agency, whereas, the definition attributed to negative liberty addresses only an individual’s actions and not his/her social circumstances.

The opposite of a free society would be a totalitarian state, which highly restricts political freedom in order to regulate almost every aspect of behavior. In this sense ‘freedom’ refers solely to the relation of humans to other humans, and the only infringement on it is coercion by humans[1], as suggested within the definition of negative liberty.

Milton Friedman, another classical liberal, strongly incorporated the absence from coercion into his description of political freedom: The essence of political freedom is the absence of coercion of one man by his fellow men. The fundamental danger to political freedom is the concentration of power. The existence of a large measure of power in the hands of a relatively few individuals enables them to use it to coerce their fellow men. Preservation of freedom requires either the elimination of power where that is possible or its dispersal where it cannot be eliminated.

Here in Sri Lanka we have already been subjected to a number of ‘laws’, one of which tell us what not to eat and drink on specific days – it doesn’t matter that this ‘law’ is based on one of the  religions practiced in the country, but must apply to even those who do not practice the particular religion. What is even more absurd with this ‘law’ is that even tourists and other non-nationals are forced to comply.

Just what is wrong with adults watching ‘adults only’ films? Is this a new kind of morality being foisted on Sri Lankans? Will they ban books that have any sexually explicit content in them next? And just how far will they go to control the freedom we have been used to for so long? Is there a ‘process’ that is used to come up with these decisions or are these the ideas of one man or perhaps a group of men in power? Don’t the citizens have any say in the matters at all? Is this democratic? And are these pronouncements made in the best interests of the citizens of this country in this day and age?

What do you think?

And please don’t tell us that to question all this will make us ‘traitors’.

Chitrasena, doyen of Sri Lankan traditional dance and its evolution, died four years ago today (July 18, 2005). His accomplishments have been well documented and its results are manifest in his productions – not only in the theatrical masterpieces he was responsible for, but also in the production of Vajira, Sri Lanka’s first prima ballerina, their daughter Upeka, who succeeded her mother in this role, countless numbers of students that include Ravibandu, Channa, and now Thaji (Chitrasena’s grand-daughter), who is succeeding her aunt Upeka as principal dancer of the Chitrasena Dance Company. The Chitrasena Kalayathanya , now in its sixty-fifth year, is also a monument to Chitrasena’s accomplishments and continues to provide the facilities for young students of Sri Lankan dance forms to learn and further their studies in this endemic art-form.

The Chitrasena Kalayathanaya, however, still struggles to establish itself as a well equipped institution due to the lack of funds and continues only due to the dedication and commitment of the Chitrasena family. Having finally been granted the space to establish a permanent location by HE Chandrika Bandaranaike in 1998, the family managed to raise sufficient funds to construct a temporary facility to serve as the Dance School at Elvitigala Mawatha, where classes, rehearsals and workshops are conducted regularly. It is still very much a ‘family affair’, with Vajira (who still teaches) as Principal of the school, Upeka as Director and guiding force, Heshma (another grand-daughter) as chief administrator, choreographer and production manager, Umi (also a grand-daughter) who attends to the day-to–day administration, Thaji, principal dancer in waiting and teacher, and Anjalika (daughter) also conducts classes and produces children’s ballets.

The most recent production by the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya was Kumbi Kathawa, a children’s ballet produced by Anjalika in 2007, that received rave reviews is being re-staged on August 28, 29 and 30, at the Bishop’s College auditorium. This production exemplifies the quality that Chitrasena stressed, in terms of creativity, choreography, theatre arts and the evolution of the traditional dance into an eminent theatrical production. As usual, the Kalayathanaya is yet in search of sponsors and donors for this production, but are determined to go ahead come what may, as a commemoration of Chitrasena’s fourth death anniversary.

No doubt the maestro would have been proud of his family’s dedication towards keeping his tradition alive. It would be fitting if the country recognized Chitrasena’s inestimable contribution to the history of its art and culture by assisting in the establishment of a permanent institution to replace the temporary one to provide the facilities required of an institution of value – both in terms of its historical perspective and the quality that it has sustained in its productions and students.

So if you haven’t already caught Kumbi Kathawa and you are keen on good theatre, don’t miss the production.

It has been touted as a successful treatment for everything from insomnia and depression to Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Now supporters of legalized marijuana are making perhaps their most extravagant claim yet: that the drug can solve California’s spiraling financial crisis. A series of television ads was launched yesterday…”. This extract from The Independent concurs with what Java and I have been on about all these many years – most recently in the post on whether the war on drugs makes any sense at all.

The State of California was perhaps one of the leaders in decriminalizing Cannabis if used for medical reasons under prescription. The following extract from Wikipedia spells it out:
California passed Proposition 215 in 1996, later renamed the Compassionate Use Act, which would protect anyone from criminal prosecution if recommended by a doctor to use marijuana for relief from some serious illnesses such as cancer, anorexia, AIDS, and glaucoma. In early 2009, California state representative Tom Ammiano introduced a bill, titled Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education Act, to legalize, regulate, and tax the recreational use of cannabis in California.[5] The bill remains pending. The legalization of Marijuana is said to have the potential to generate over one billion dollars of state revenue per year. Marijuana would have the same regulations that alcohol has. With every ounce of marijuana sold, there would be a 50-dollar tax. The State of California has a 26 billion dollar budget deficit right now. Placing a tax on marijuana would definitely be beneficial in helping the state get out of this deficit. California alone is estimated to produce about 14 billion dollars worth of marijuana per year.

Let’s hope that California will be successful in its endeavour to be sensible about this matter which will result in cutting the massive costs that result from the criminalizing of this herb that has been used for centuries by a variety of cultures for medicinal and other purposes. I’ve spelled out some of the benefits of decriminalization in my post referred to earlier and the savings to the tax-payer, as well as income to the coffers of the countries – not to mention the reduction of criminal activities caused by criminalization. And perhaps if California does succeed in this effort, and the results prove the point with regard to solving its “spiraling financial crisis”, it just may pave the way for other states and countries to follow suit.

Jus don make any sense at all, maan…

Java doesn’t have much hope in Establishment policies – never has, really – so he’s already rolling a joint of some sweet smelling sinsemilla and has got The Stones on the machine doing “You can’t always get what you want

July 2009
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Ephemeral Ruminations by Java Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.
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