Saturday, 1 November 2003  
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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

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Let reason triumph over emotion

The handing over of the LTTE's response to the State's Interim Administration proposals and the Government's "brief reaction" to it which is expected to be conveyed to the LTTE today, take the peace process several steps farther.

Admittedly, we are at a crucial stage in the peace process and any mishandling of it at this juncture is likely to have adverse repercussions on our onward journey to a settlement of the conflict.

From what we could gather, unleashing of destructive emotions and an abandoning of rationality when it comes to analysing sensitive issues, on the part of key players, constitute our biggest stumbling blocks in the context of the peace effort. These weaknesses have been aggravated by the activities of some interest groups which have been intent on scuttling the peace process.

We had a sample of these destructive tendencies on Wednesday, when a well-meant Sinhala-Tamil Cultural Festival was subjected to a terror attack in the heart of Colombo. Obviously, anti-peace elements are on the prowl and it is incumbent on all who wish this country and the peace process well, not to fall prey to them.

Deeply emotive issues, to be sure, are at the heart of the peace process. This is where the rub is. Unless these issues are discussed and analyzed rationally at public fora, under the aegis of the State and others supportive of the peace effort, the likelihood is great that efforts would be made by the vested interests to mislead and confuse the people on these questions. Accordingly, we call for an informed and detailed public discussion on these issues, with the State playing a major role in it, so as to putting the record straight.

While, ideally, the opposition needs to be substantively involved in the peace effort, on the basis of a mutually-agreed mechanism, every effort must be made by the leading figures of the opposition to steer public reactions to developments, on a rational course.

Emotional reactions and deliberate attempts to extract short-term political gain should be avoided in view of the close bearing the peace process has on our future well-being.

All this would require a complete mind-set change on the part of the opposition. It must be remembered that although it is very easy to inflame public passions on the emotive issues which are central to the conflict, it is not all easy to put the country together again, once the flames of discord and destruction are unleashed. While constructive and useful criticism of the peace process is likely to be welcomed by all those who are concerned about our future, mindless efforts to wreck the peace effort would only reduce everyone in this land to losers.

In this context, we regret to note the part played by some sections of the media to keep public passions high. The pen while being mightier than the sword is, itself, a double-edged sword. It could be used for better or for worse. Unfortunately, some scribes put their pens to the latter purpose.

It must be remembered that ill-intentioned sections of the country's media played a major role in plunging Sri Lanka into the devastating inferno of July 1983. That riot marked the beginning of our long nightmare. Pens must now be used to end it.

Call all Sri Lanka

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