NATION-BUILDING THROUGH RECONCILIATION | Daily News

NATION-BUILDING THROUGH RECONCILIATION

National Reconciliation is again a matter of concern to those of the international community who sincerely wish to see Sri Lanka progress in unity and harmony so that we become adult partner in bringing about a new world into being.

Our birth into this world initiates us to see, hear, touch, judge, understand, know and encounter the material world and of human beings and live. Some are also inspired, by a vision of life beyond this world, to live a life dedicated to the common good and to a mission of human spiritual union.

All of us look for coherence, meaning and rationality in life and believe what we are told. As Julius Caesar said, ‘Homines quod volunt credunt’, Men believe what they want to believe. What human beings choose to believe may be rational or irrational, mythical, biased or even superstitious hearsay. But we human by nature, meant to be truthful and rational are driven to decipher the meaning and purpose of life in community and in relationship with others. These relationships intended to be life enhancing for all are naturally grounded on equality of human dignity, mutual understanding and love.

Mature minds and hearts

Reconciliation is a process that continually upkeeps and resolves all that needs mending and renewing in human affairs. Today it should embrace all the ethnic, religious and language communities of people of this country who have in her a historical and cultural identity to call their own. Each community is appreciative of the elements that have built up their identity which have also enriched them.

If those treasures of thought and assets of knowledge, culture, art, music, crafts and the various scientific achievements and economic gains could be shared justly with others, all would get mutually enriched and progress towards a comprehension of one another’s heritage. It could lead to a sober way of resolving conflicts and reaching out to a humane level of caring fellowship and spiritual refinement. In keeping with our human nature, to live humanly, all of us together need to deepen our understanding and mature the capacities of our minds and hearts, considering every human life very precious and ignoring no one.

Rivalries that have led to conflicts and bloodshed, war, conquest and despotic rule have been there over the centuries. Yet the identities and differences among people have not been erased but remained long-lasting with also actual patterns and ways of life, culture and traditions particular to human communities enduring over centuries.

Conflicts that dehumanize

Today, communities of human beings find it highly unacceptable and unsatisfactory for any identifiable cohesive group of human beings or any nation to be subject to the arbitrary will, conquest and domination of another. Production of armaments intended to be used against others, turn out to be heinous crimes against humanity.

Human communities are realizing that with right communication, constructive cooperation and collaboration in all spheres of useful human activity, all stand to gain. Constructive cooperation in a spirit of reconciliation is a far better and nobler substitute to destructive rivalry, contentious clashes and annihilating war. The varied energies and powers of individual human beings as well as that of whole communities and nations engaging in all manner of productive work when channeled to objectives beneficial to human beings could raise all to uplifting levels of humanness and forge healthy relationships.

Wherever throughout history, one community has overpowered another, there has almost always occurred deception, cheating, stealing, looting, and outmaneuvering, injury, killing and murder, rape and fornication, drunkenness, licentiousness, paedophilia and all manner of vice, crime and immorality. They dehumanize human beings and leave whole nations in despair and devastation. Internecine destruction and dehumanizing warring among nations of the world have been going on for far too long.

Human nature rises to relate

Sri Lanka has been tarnished and degraded on and off since Independence. Thousands of men, women and children have suffered in racial violence and conflagrations of guerilla warfare. They continue to bear the agony of their unhealed physical wounds and suffer intense anguish in their hearts and minds.

Our society today is a plural one with a pronounced presence of different communities. The home upbringing of the young needs to take into account this plurality so that all, while growing to be themselves, will also blend adequately with others. The education system’s flawed aspects of intellectual, social, ethical, moral and spiritual development too should be set right to harmonize with and contribute to enrich a multi-cultural world. Consequently, no one will get withdrawn, isolated on single issues and cocooned in separate existences. Moral and spiritual values in students will not stagnate introverted in their diverse communities. Those affected with estranged, suspicious and distrustful attitudes towards fellow citizens should be helped to outgrow them.

The passage to reconciliation is a progressive challenging journey through a narrow gate on a craggy, difficult trail paved with sharp rocks of long absorbed prejudice, bigotry, fanaticism and misguided extremism. Many have inherited this distorted legacy of toxic links associated with race, religion, language, culture and social interaction to such an extent that they cannot tolerate and coexist with those who are not of their tribe and tradition.

While sharing a common homeland they continue to remain alienated from the genuine dignity and honour of their race, religion, language, culture and tradition. Although physically occupying the same land and living near one another individually and as communities, they remain distant in mind and spirit from their fellow citizens. It is a sad state of affairs perpetuated by ignorance, irrationality and inhumanity. It is evidently incongruous for a people, who have attained a high rate of literacy and progressed through religion, science and socio-political progress, to lack a levelheaded and sensible vision.

When social and moral values are not upheld together, human beings could be driven by excessive emotions as well as unjust intentions that make human behavior malicious, irrational, intemperate and even violent. Exacerbated, dangerous patterns of conduct, unfair public administration, violent invasion and irrational intimidation and overawing of others cause disorientation and estrangement in relationships, social disruption and even social anarchy. The ways revenues are collected - are they just and fair by the ordinary citizens? - and how wisely the peoples’ taxes are spent could affect social order and relationships. It is the Government’s responsibility to plan the social order equitably as the imbalances in various sectors and spheres of life could adversely affect interactions, justice, fairness and reconciliation.

Spiritually stronger, wiser

Human nature inclines to what matters most in life and that is the will to live and to relate to fellow human beings. Everyone should have the opportunity to live, to humanly grow and mature on the level ground of equal human dignity, autonomy, freedom, justice, honour and mutual respect. Society should be organised to accord such opportunity to all.

The time has come for us all to completely abandon violence, fighting, aggression and warring and change over to a more civilized, new and humane way of life worthy of human beings. We should strive to accept as well as go above our various differences; we should begin to meet with and speak with, relate and understand one another and become friends and neighbours who feel for one another. Cultivating harmonious fraternal feelings and attitudes of solidarity should become a shared spiritual adventure, now.

We should pass on this precious heritage to our younger generations and teach them how to value and appreciate our particular identities and yet transcend them for a higher good and be united with others in order to build our Nation together as members of one national family.

Just to live in tolerance and peace, all of us will need to cultivate a robust resilience and a new capacity to bear a diversity of minor burdens and even submit to a common discipline for the sake of the country as a whole to elevate her rather than cause pain and misery to some of our fellow countrymen.

All of us need to learn lessons of firm non-violence and patient forbearance. We need to grow to be more compassionate, forgiving, loving, spiritually stronger and wiser, aware that promoting reconciliation is indeed building the nation. All of us Sri Lankans individually and collectively should recover anew a genuine sense of humanness and fraternity. By a New Constitution we could lay the bases to regain it. Revival of genuine religion could promote it. Then a new and socially integrated society will begin to emerge in our lifetime.

Government’s high responsibility

The mission of reconciliation cannot be confined to a single ministry with that designation. Every minister and ministry will have its particular impact on serving all the people and therefore on some aspect of the process of reconciliation and its creative evolution.

Therefore, a serious cognizance of all the ministers and deputy ministers and chief administrators of the ministries is called for so that without any default on their part they may attend to their due obligations to the citizens and consolidate solidarity among the people.

The Ministries of Education and Public Administration should be directly influencing the thinking and the attitudes of students, teachers, government servants and the general public; they could mould the ways of harmonious relationships that build reconciliation and understanding among the younger generation and among the people and give vibrant purpose and meaning to peoples’ lives. However widespread bribery and corruption in the public service remains a destructive evil that undermines reconciliation. It has to be noted that many from peons, drivers, accountants, transport officers to holders of very high responsibility in government service are bribe takers; their pervasive corruption impedes service to the people and impairs justice and reconciliation among them.

Those who are not sympathetic towards reconciliation also need to be contacted, patiently persuaded and sensibly converted to reconciliation. In a situation where, irresponsibility, prejudice, suspicion, jealousy and partiality prevails social confusion continues. All fair minded people stand to lose not knowing where they are in their relations with others. A change of heart for life-saving self-preservation, to the advantage and benefit of all would be effected only by a pure spiritual impulse. Leaders, led by religious leaders need to focus the people and guide them towards achievable relationships and standards of social conduct to create a revitalized national community buoyant with abundant and unblemished human coexistence.

Faithful to reconciliation

The members of the Government and all Parliamentarians as civic leaders should personally commit themselves unambiguously to the mission of reconciliation and uphold social justice, law and order without prioritizing ‘vote catching schemes’. Making speeches to impress the people and issuing statements contradicting one another are evasive of decisive just action. Refraining from divisive actions, they should faithfully implement policies and projects relevant to reconciliation, prevent the people being set against one another, protect the people from every corrupt individual in the government services, state corporations and armed forces who abuse their power and authority, remove structures of injustice and liberate the country, now, to shield Sri Lanka from sliding from one national calamity to another.

While striving to create a united interconnected Nation let us by example, bring genuine humanness, inspiration and the light of the divine into the lives of other peoples in horizons beyond our shores. Thus when an ongoing process of reconciliation becomes an elan vital of our national life, we shall make our valid contribution to transform the world into a better habitation for all.


 

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