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Saturday, 26 November 2011

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Government Gazette

Reconciliation, our way

Reconciliation is certainly on the cards, but it will be entirely our way and not in the manner in which some obtrusive external quarters would like to have it. This is one of the many thought-provoking points which were made by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the course of his recent address to the inaugural National Conference on Reconciliation held in Colombo. Besides, Sri Lanka's conflict resolution effort would be entirely home-grown and would be in keeping with our indigenous cultural and social values, the Defence Secretary pointed out.

Such observations on where Sri Lanka should go from the present juncture, wherein the reconstruction and rehabilitation drive is being persisted with, are of the first importance and it is gladdening to note that peace and reconciliation are being factored in by decision and policy makers as essentials for Sri Lanka's present and future. The Defence Secretary was absolutely right when he told the reconciliation conference that this country is not in need of any guidance on the issue of making peace and bringing reconciliation among its communities. Sri Lanka, after all, has a centuries-long civilization and this was in full bloom when some cultures and communities of the world outside were roughing it out in the most subhuman conditions in caves and dugouts.

Ours is a civilization that has been continuously fertilized by the best of the world's most prominent religions and ethical systems. For instance, the thought that care and concern must be showered on each other by humans is no alien sentiment to most Sri Lankans. This great ethical principle is central to almost all the religions that have taken deep root in our midst, such as, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. To be sure, the nuggets of wisdom in these religions constituted the foundation of a good part of the UN Charter, but they were known very well to the communities and cultures of this country from time immemorial.

So, the West, in particular, would be wasting its time by telling the rulers and people of this country on how they should manage a reconciliation effort which is aimed at durably uniting our communities. We know all about reconciliation and we have been treasuring such collective wisdom in our hearts and minds over the centuries and millennia. Let not the converted be preached unto. The majority of the people of this country know fully well that a human should not treat another in a manner he would not like to be treated. The practice of this principle is an essential requirement for reconciliation and peace and this is indeed part of the collective ethical thinking of Sri Lankans. The West, in particular, would not be saying anything particularly new by underscoring its importance to us in Sri Lanka.

However, in the days ahead, this principle would be needed to be borne in mind by the Sri Lankan family as it persists on the road of nation-building. Nothing short of a polity which would lay the basis for equality of condition and opportunity would suffice for the purpose of building a new and strongly united Sri Lanka. This is an ethical principle the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee would need to bear in mind as it deliberates on the best and most effective ways of resolving the grievances of our communities.

However the peoples of the world seem to be more enlightened than some of their rulers. For instance, at the time of writing, the news is that the 750,000th tourist has arrived in this country, which is great news and a certain pointer to the steady pace at which normalization is being achieved in this country.

The so-called ordinary people of the world are apparently not looking at Sri Lanka through the blinkers some of their rulers are adept in using in relation to Sri Lanka. The majority of foreigners see Sri Lanka as a land of great potential and promise and nothing that some of their governments may say about this country seems to be deterring them from visiting Sri Lanka and enjoying the simple pleasures she offers.

What this latest development in the tourism sector proves is that Sri Lanka needs to forge people-to-people contact on an increasingly vast scale, to advance the tourism industry and to foster in people everywhere an admiration for this country. The latter factor would prove invaluable in rebutting adverse opinion about Sri Lanka and in winning over to its side world opinion.

The promise and potential for reconciliation

Andrew Marvell was writing about love or rather, to be blunt, sex. In talking about reconciliation, I should also be talking about love, or rather about charity, the Greek word Caritas as in the enormously helpful NGO of that name which refers to that universal loving kindness which the Buddhist concept of metta also encompasses.

Full Story

Political Revery

Pandemonium in Parliament

Soon after Papua New Guinea got its independence from Australia, the Speaker of the National Parliament pleaded with members to preserve the decorum of the House by refraining from attending dressed in cowboy boots and hat. This gave rise, elsewhere to many unfair jokes on the lines of ‘and while you are about it, please desist from eating the other members’.

Full Story

‘Code of conduct for media should emerge from within’

The national television, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation telecast current affairs with responsibility and accurately. It builds a broad and disciplined dialogue which leads to solve social problems. The SLRC telecasts programmes which lead to the development of children, provides mental solace to the public and promotes social development. It does not put youths and children into the market for sale. It protects languages,

Full Story

 

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