The Message of Moderation
There is some
food for thought in the proposition that Sri Lanka must adopt
the policy of moderation in the conduct of its affairs. We live
in a culture that is quite familiar with this concept on account
of the deeply- ingrained nature of the Buddhistic Middle Path,
which is a way of life among many in this country. But this
principle needs to be unambiguously acclaimed as a policy
principle in the conduct of matters relating to our polity.
As our front page news story from Malaysia reveals, Sri
Lanka's High Commissioner to Malaysia Nanda Godage is making a
strong case for the adoption of the policy of moderation in the
conduct of Sri Lankan affairs and we believe this is a timely
input from him which must be strongly considered by our policy
and decision-makers. As the High Commissioner discloses,
multiethnic Malaysia has already gone some distance in the
acceptance and adoption of moderation under the guidance of
Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is an
ardent advocate of the concept and it seems to be proving an
effective first principle in state policy.
The majority of the people of this country could be
considered as moderates in a political sense and would not need
to be persuaded too much to advocate and adopt this
all-important principle which makes for peace and social
stability. As alluded to earlier, moderation is central to the
value structure of the majority of our citizenry and it is all
too evident that this ideal derives from the hallowed Middle
Path of Buddhism which exhorts the practitioner of the religion
to avoid all extremes but traverse a middle course in the
conduct of one's affairs, whether personal or public.
Accordingly, the moderates among us would avoid being seen as
Right-inclined or Left-inclined in political ideology but would
opt for political centrism which translates into a fine
combination of doctrinal elements from both the political Right
as well as the political Left. In fact, Non-alignment is based
on this concept of the Middle Path in politics and this feature
accounts for the enduring appeal of Non-alignment as an
ideology. Needless to say, this ideology remains valid to date
and is the ideal doctrinal foundation for the conduct of
international relations. Sri Lanka, of course, has always been
inclined to base its foreign policy practice on this timeless
Moderation in the conduct of a polity's internal affairs is
as vital as the principle's applicability in the wider world of
international relations. At this level too, Sri Lanka's record
could not be considered as flawed because political centricism
is at the heart of the SLFP's ideological orientation. The fact
that SLFP-led coalitions have been in power since 1994,
testifies to the hold the Middle Path or political moderation is
having on the average voter.
But political moderation has some deeper layers of meaning
which need to be explored too because they touch very intimately
on the meaning of moderation as outlined by our High
Commissioner in Malaysia. What is also meant by moderation in
this context is the avoidance of violent extremisms of any kind.
For instance, the ideology of ethnic hatred which is propagated
in some quarters in our country is the very anti-thesis of
political moderation. Religious intolerance too is a form of
extremism which flies in the face of moderation, which is the
preferred ideology of the majority of our citizens.
We could be stating the obvious by upholding the view that it
is the Middle Path or political moderation that should be the
cornerstone of our convictions in this context. We have seen how
violent political extremisms have all but destroyed this
country. The LTTE ideology of race hate was instrumental in
bringing this about but corresponding hate ideologies sprouted
in other parts of the country too.
All such extremist ideologies must be shown door. Currently
there is a need to eschew and denounce religious extremism too.
Therefore, the ideology of moderation which is close to our
hearts and minds must be enthusiastically inculcated and
practised, for this is the pathway to enduring peace.