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Citizens' Mail

Animal farm

Lionel Wijesiri writing in the Daily News of April 9 (pg 9), has produced an informative and researched article on the subject of ‘Animal Welfare’. On reading it, George Orwell’s satirical novel on political manipulation, comes to mind - It is from this novel that the famous phrase is coined - “All men are equal, but some are more equal than others”.

Unfortunately, much of what Wijesiri writes is self contradictory.

He quotes King Devanampiyatissa who after his conversion to Buddhism, outlawed hunting - all well and good - but I wonder whether this medieval king, making laws on a whim, considered how his subjects would find their food (let alone a balanced diet), under such arbitrary rules, which no doubt never affected the King personally. (Another case of un-analytical subservience to handed-down misinformation).

Mr. Wijesiri is 100% right when he condemns the extremely cruel captive exhibition of caged animals in places such as the Dehiwela Zoo!

Allowing your children to watch the animals in captivity at the Zoo, worse still, watch them perform unnatural acts such as Elephant ‘dances’, for ‘entertainment’, is based on thoughtless ignorance and cruelty. One must also condemn this Government, whose Minister, soon after coming to power, in a fit of Euphoria, declared almightily that the Dehiwela Zoo would be closed down! Dammed also are those who hide behind religious immunity as an excuse to keep Elephants in chains as a ‘status symbol’, another example of vacuous subservience to ‘traditions’. Wild animals should only be in the Wild.

Mr. Wijesiri Is also correct when he advocates for the need to control ‘pet shops’, springing up all over Colombo like mushrooms after a storm. Not only bogus pet shops but the sale of captive parrots and sparrows in Colombo’s precincts such as Rajagiriya - birds who will be destined a life sentence of imprisonment, should also be severely punished. It is self contradictory to, in the same article, lament the ‘poisoning of stray cats and dogs’.

Stray cats and savage dogs are poisoned because the authorities still carry on a certain opportunist politico’s so called ‘no kill’ policy, designed to sanctimoniously mislead the vacuous un-critical masses.

He is wrong when he talks of an imaginary ‘animal friendly culture which began 2300 years ago’, a claim without evidence, no sign of which can be seen today either. What we do have, for sure, are opportunists (lay persons, politicians and clergyman- politicians) who bandy such claims for their own deceitful reasons.

Mr. Wijesiri asks in his closing sentence - that “the Animal Welfare Bill can be easily passed with the support of all right thinking leaders” – where does he expect to find such people among the present lot of “Leaders”?

Jayanta Kurukulasuriya

Wolves in sheep’s clothing

While I was at the World Bank, Washington DC, I travelled by shuttle to New York on St Patrick's day to attend Mass at the Cathedral. It would have been no different if I had attended say a Mass celebrated in Timbuktu. So it was decades later in the tiny Catholic church in Rangoon, Burma, a 99% Buddhist country, whilst I was there as an ADB consultant. The celebrant was a young Burmese priest and the language of the Mass was Latin as it was in New York and Timbuktu, attesting to the unity of the Catholic Church.

Like the way a train is guided by the discipline of the rails, the Mass was then guided by the discipline of rubrics. It did not depend on the whim, fancy or taste of the priest, like way it was witnessed recently at St Anthony's Church, Kachativu where the celebrant, a bishop to boot, was holding the host in one hand and the chalice in the other during the consecration and moving or was it dancing like a kaveddi dancer. The Eucharist was distributed to the massive throng by priests some on to their hands, others on to their tongues. The Eucharist should be taken kneeling, untouched by the unconsecrated hand and in the tongue and the Latin phrase, divine non sum dignus (I am not worthy) should be on the lips and hearts of those who receive them.

Recently Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments lamented now the Mass is unrecognizable, differing from Church to Church and recommended the Bishop's Conferences which he characterized as wolfs in sheep's clothing be abolished and Bishops be made answerable direct to Rome. It is not inappropriate here to remind that Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith often walked out of Bishop's Conferences when he was Bishop of Ratnapura.

The bugbear of Bishop's Conferences is Modernism. To tell me Modernism in religion is necessary for me to become a better man is a piece of unscientific nonsense. The dreadful thing about Modernism is it puts tragedy which in essence is the Mass in the clothes of comedy, turning the real, grotesque and commonplace. Everything about Modernism is mean, repellant and lacking in style. The very dress of Modernism is designed to appeal to the sense of humour. When people see Modernism in a religious dress they laugh. Nothing could exceed their amusement. That is of course before they know who the Modernist is inside the dress. As soon as they are informed they laugh some more.

My copious writing, for decades, lambasting the smell of Modernism that reeks within Bishop's Conferences is history. Modernism’s trivial love for change is a matter of the legend. Here is a glaring example. The weekly Catholic Messenger was launched in 1869.

The linguistic root of the word Catholic is the Greek word katholikos meaning universal. In short, the message the weekly carried was not parochial but universal. We waited with great expectations its arrival because it was adorned with great lay writers like Janz, de Fonseka, Delikan and Editors like Fathers Justin Perera and Peter Pillai. Today the Modernists have dropped the word Catholic. It is no more. The weekly is simply called the Messenger. Its message no longer universal.

What more profitable way to conclude this essay other than referring to an excerpt from a recent interview Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments gave to a French journal. “Each priest does whatever he likes during Mass. No two Masses are alike. Christ founded one Church. Its mode of government is hierarchical. The first responsible for the Church is the Pope. The first person responsible for the local church is the Bishop in his diocese and not the Bishop's Conference. A Bishop's Conference has no canonical authority and no competence in the area of doctrine”.

Ephrem Fernando


Try to be a spiritual person

Spirituality is the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.

In general, spirituality includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves and typically involves a search for meaning in life.

Being a spiritual person is synonymous with being a person whose highest priority is to be loving to yourself and others. A spiritual person cares about people, animals and planet, as a spiritual person knows that we are all one, and consciously attempt to honour this oneness.

Spirituality includes your spiritual practices or spiritual disciplines, which may include prayer, meditation, chanting, breathing exercises and ceremonies or rituals.

We should not confuse spirituality with religion. We can be both religious and spiritual or religious without spiritual or spiritual without being religious.

A spiritual person may be defined as a person who feels fulfilled in inner happiness rather than in fulfilment of material desires.

Spiritual people flourish. Spiritual people have positive relationships, high self-esteem, are optimistic and have meaning in life.

What are the health benefits associated with spirituality? Spiritual people have better health, less hypertension, less stress, more positive feelings, less depression and greater psychological well-being.

D. Weeratunga

Some thoughts on Christchurch

The terrible massacre of innocent people in a mosque in Christchurch is more than heart-rending. First, it was in a church in the USA and then in a mosque in the Philippines and now it is in a mosque in Christchurch. Of course, Buddhists will accept it as an uncompromising viciousness of Karmic Retribution which shows no mercy, reiterating the danger of Samsara, a warning by the Buddha which has mostly gone unheeded.

It is only a matter of time before another massacre will take place as a retaliation for what happened at Christchurch or as a continuation of what happened at Christchurch. Will the next place be chosen to be a small island in the Indian Ocean? Impossible? I hope so.

Could the disaster at Christchurch have been prevented? I believe yes, at least it could have been made more difficult to execute. The mistake was that the New Zealand government and the people of New Zealand did not recognize that such a thing could happen in their country. To show solidarity and concern and protectiveness is well and good. But it should have been done before this incident by anticipating such an outcome.

In Sri Lanka, like in New Zealand, different communities exist without any effort to understand each other and the inevitable disaster must surely happen, if not externally (like in New Zealand) internally as it happened on a small scale (comparatively speaking) in Sri Lanka.

Because nobody realized the danger of not understanding and not working together between the two main nationalities (races) in Sri Lanka, a 30-year war was fought with indescribable damage. The effects of that war are still with us. A similar war based on different religions is too horrendous even to think of.

May I suggest to the relevant authorities to think about this issue and act before it is too late and Sri Lanka will become the next Christchurch.

A suggestion would be, say for Buddhists (I am not sure how practical it is) to invite people of other religions to participate at least as observers and try to understand each other during these meetings. The other religions can reciprocate and hopefully, an atmosphere of friendship (or at least of tolerance) will develop between different communities.

Maybe (I know I am asking for trouble here) we can tone down the ever-present loudspeakers in regular public demonstrations of Buddhist events so that other communities will not feel too alienated.

For me, it is the ultimate irony (I nearly said the ultimate tragedy) that when the ultimate goal of Buddhism is the ending of Samsara here and now which can only be achieved in meditation undertaken in isolation in your home (yes, I am doing it full time. Is there a choice when it is only a matter of time before we face the inevitable Karmic Retribution as happened in Christchurch) the emphasis in society is to do everything other than that.

Dr. Asoka Thenuwara

A colossal dairy project gone awry

These days everybody is talking about a project that has gone tragically awry. The most tragic thing is that everybody, including the professionals of the Department of Animal Production Health, who were involved in the project right from the beginning, is now worried over the failure of the Australia- funded project. Nobody is willing to discuss what actually went wrong. This project involves importing Australian - New Zealand high-yielding cows under Australia - Sri Lanka export deal backed by the former.

Does Sri Lanka have a permanent policy regarding the import of live animals for various purposes? No. Sri Lanka never adhered to a constant policy in this respect. A high- yielding live animal cannot be the sole criteria, as has been the case in the particular project.

Auditor General has been absolutely correct when he claimed that the cattle breeds imported are not suitable for Sri Lanka’s climatic conditions, but his comment came only after everything had gone awry.

In the 1980s the Government conducted various researches on importing cattle that suited local climatic conditions, through Veterinary Research Institute (VRI), Gannoruwa. In one of those projects, the Ministry of Rural Industrial Development then identified Australian Milking Zebu (AMZ) cattle from Australian dry zones as a suitable breed, imported about 400 AMZ cattle and were placed at Nikeweratiya Government Livestock Farm (now NLDB farm) for further feasibility studies.

The attempt was a total failure. Illnesses ranging from contagious diseases to immunization breakdowns were reported almost every day and I was the area Veterinary Surgeon covering these farms. All 400 died over a period of three to four years. Finally, the conclusion has arrived: even the best cattle of Australian Dry Zone are not suitable for Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone dairy purposes.

Based on these research findings it was decided that only crossbreeds of Jersey of western countries, and Indian Pakistani breeds such as Sindhi and Sahiwal are suitable for our Dry Zone dairy upgrading projects; whereas the upcountry climate is suitable for European breeds that are also well acclimatised in Australia and New Zealand. These facts should be the basic knowledge of an area Veterinary Surgeon under whose purview the implementation of all Dairy projects finally comes.

As such what is the high yielding Australian Breed imported for this particular project? Was it the same AMZ breed - that was imported in the 1980s, under any other name? If so I pity the Government of Sri Lanka, and the Department of Animal Production Health - for committing such a massive blunder – having ignored the scientific findings. All pictures circulating on social media depicting the suffering of the animals of this latest project remind me of the plight of AMZ cattle of the 1980 study. The present case bears a striking similarity to what happened in the 1980s.

If it was any other breed that is well adapted to Australia and New Zealand conditions, again Sri Lankan authorities are at fault for ignoring acclimatization criteria for Sri Lankan conditions.

Surprisingly Australia does not have a policy of Dairy Cattle export, whereas it has a rigid policy for Beef - Cattle export. That means any crook can approach the exporter, sell any cattle as high- yielding dairy cattle.

Dr. S Mahadev


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