Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Racial" competition in Sri Lanka seems like a result of colonialism, so...

Now that the island is no longer a British colony, it would be wise for Sri Lankans to stop dividing themselves into Tamil or Sinhala "races" and to stop fighting each other for resources.

Let's back up. Let's review all of the ideas & new perspectives contained in the above sentence.

First, the majority of people in Sri Lanka at this point believe in the idea of race, or in race theory. What's race theory, & how does it play out in Sri Lanka? At some point along the way, the population of the island was convinced that if you spoke a different language, that meant you were a completely different kind of human being. So, if you spoke Tamil, you belong to the Tamil "race" & if you spoke Sinhala, you belong to the Sinhala "race". This is fiction, yet Sri Lankans bought it, & invested heavily into this idea, so much so that they were willing to harras the people of the other "race" - which is pretty much the main element in the entire history of post-colonial Sri Lanka - the Sinhalese & the Tamils refusing to acknowledge their common humanity, refusing to give up the British idea of race that they lived under for a couple of hundred years as a colony, refusing to move forward as a united island, & maintaining an antagonistic relationship with the other.

In the belief of race lies the seed for Black July, and the on-going, 20-plus year long war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

This could go on forever. No matter who wins the war this year, or next year, or in the next ten years, if Sri Lankans continue to believe in race theory, the war will be back.

The way out is to recognize that, most likely, for purposes of accumulating power, either the British or other elites - native elites - decided to sell the people on the idea that Tamil speakers and Sinhala speakers are two very different kinds of humans, and that the other is evil and whatever group one belonged to was good, and that victory over the other in all areas of life is a good thing. This is a receipe for eternal violence & destruction because, as humans, specially as humans who have lived in the same island for hundreds of years, there are no significant differences between the Sinhalese and the Tamils, and the violence and competition between the two will not end until Sri Lanka gives up the belief in race theory or belief in the concept of race.

If Sri Lankans give up their belief in race theory, what will we have there? We'll have humans, who belong to one country, who speak one or more languages, who believe in a couple of different religions or no religion at all. And, if a significant minority or the majority of these people decide that they want to create a corruption free, effective government, and want to develop the private sector in commerce, etc., they would be able to do so as dozens of other countries in this world have done & they will be able to transform the country from a place that people want to get out of to a place that the rest of the world looks forward to visiting.

In order for Sri Lanka to recover from the post-colonial nightmare they are in now, the people will have to give up the easy & false comfort that comes with believing in a lie, they will have to give up the tribal-esque concept of race and embrace their own, and their fellow country men & women's, humanity. The choice is between choosing to uphold an evil vision of separation which includes destruction to those who are outside of that vision or identity, or choosing to create a real nation - where all who live in it are the same kind of being - human, & are equal. Choosing the second options is the right way to go; the useful, positive, in favor of peace & development way to go. After hundreds of years of belief in race theory, giving it up for a united country will not be easy to do, but if anyone can do it, Sri Lankans can.

- Sujewa

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