The President and the media have said much about a Sri Lankan Identity, without defining the profile of that identity. If we go by the President's address about "One Country-One People" delivered in Anuradhapura, which said, "..Friends, we are proud to say that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country," we have to assume that that is the identity of a Sri Lankan. Such a concept would leave out the Tamils, Muslims and the Christians among others. We hope the President will expand on her thoughts on this controversial profile she has given to the Sri Lankan identity.
If we compare a country to an orchestra, the identity of an individual is like that of an instrument of the orchestra. Identity of an ethnic group is like that of the strings or woodwind or brass, or percussion sections of an orchestra. A constitution will be like that of the score of a symphony. It should reflect the synergistic effect from the different communities. A constitution will then reflect the identity of the Sri Lankan. But, it is important for an individual, like an instrument, to have its own identity before it can be a member of a group. Such individuals will have a synergistic effect on the quality of the group. It is also important for a group to be recognised as a cohesive unit before it can be part of an orchestra. Only then can we optimize harmony and minimize dissonance.
In historic times, all three communities had their own identity. By the end of the colonial period, all communities had replaced their original identity with the imposed identity of a colonial Ceylonese. But most individuals, within themselves, retained their cultural identity.
Bandaranaike's leadership with his Sinhala Only Act, gave the Sinhala people their identity back. Unfortunately, the gift was at the expense of the identity of the Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and the Veddhas. Sinhala leaders considered the Sinhala Buddhist identity to be synonymous with that of the Sri Lankan identity as reflected in the 1972 and 1978 constitutions. The Tamils refused to wear the mantle of the Sinhala Buddhist identity and refused to pretend it to be that of a Sri Lankan identity. Chelvanayakam gave the Tamils an identity. Now Prabhakaran has composed a variation on that and older themes. Many Sinhala leaders are refusing to recognise any separate identity for the Tamils other than that of a Sri Lankan identity. The Tamils are now engaged in a violent struggle to establish their own identities.
The present or the proposed constitution is like a composition for a trumpet concerto, beautiful, but it does not reflect the themes and values of other communities. The rest of the orchestra is expected to be in harmony with the trumpet and the brass, that is, to be in harmony with the President and the Sinhala Buddhist people. The Tamils want the constitution to be a symphony, not a trumpet concerto.
One may wonder why the western analogy for a Sri Lankan problem. It is because the theme of a state was composed and introduced to us by the West. So far, we have been unable to interpret or compose a variation on their theme. Can we challenge ourselves to write our own, or a variation of the theme that will be universally accepted? It is tragic that to forge a Sri Lankan identity, we have opted for the furnace and the anvil of war and the might of the majority. Neither might nor majority is always right, nor have they always won.
A coal fired power plant was to be set up at Trincomalee as an alternative source of power supply and later at Kudawella near Tangalle. But saner counsel prevailed and both attempts were abandoned in the face of severe criticism by eminent scientists and personalities, environmentalists, NGO's and the public. Perturbed attention is now focused on the proposed Coal Power Plant at Norachcholai which is a resurgence of a dead subject which the country thought was buried for good seven years ago.
A vividly remembered world renowned scientist the late Prof. Cyril Ponnamperuma in an article to a newspaper on 10.07.90. warned against the coal project as catastrophic in consequences, due to the inevitable sulphur acid being washed in the rain destroying whole regions of vegetation far and wide as it had done to forests in Europe and North America.
Prof. Arulpragasam of the Eastern University expressed his serious concern fearing an upheaval in the climatic pattern of the country and enormous damage to the marine resources due to the pollution and warming of the sea water by at least 7 1/2o centigrade, as sea water will be used for cooling down the turbines.
Prof. Alawathugoda Premadasa of Ruhuna University an eminent Botanist commented that the Plant in Kudawella will burn 2,250 tons of coal per month emitting 200 tons of smoke to the sky gradually destroying vegetation leaving the land arid and dry within 100 years. These views were endorsed by many environmentalists and NGOs.
The damage the Coal Plant is going to cause to the country is crystal clear.
Therefore those who are determined to go ahead for individual gains and political purposes should bear both direct and moral responsibility, who certainly are going to be cursed by the generations to come.
Oh you fairy tale Princess
you stepped into our times
A modern Cinderella
And became a queen of hearts
The people's Princess
You've been called
That really is your name
Diana, beautiful Princess
Did you need death
to bring you fame?
You who suffered so much blame?
Your death will turn this world around
Many wrongs will be put right!
Your ideals and dreams will bloom and blossom
Those seeds you planted in your sons' bosoms
Will germinate and grow.
And that cold stoic English race
Which now shows to the world
Their grief stricken faces
Will be a better, warmer people
'Cause they will walk with you
As their companion on life's way
Why do I weep for you, Princess of the people?
Why is this lump so tight in my throat?
I wept for you on your wedding day-
wedding tears of joy and anxiety
As I winged a prayer for your safety.
I wept for you, Princess of the People,
When you were struggling in your marriage,
Wept for your loneliness amidst a crowd.
I wept again, Princess of the people,
Tears for those you touched,
Those who suffer from the ancient scourge of leprosy;
Those who are dying of the modern scourge of AIDS;
And innocent victims of the man-made scourge of landmines.
I weep now, Princess of the people,
For Prince William and Prince Harry,
As they gird themselves to bear your torch.
A humanitarian King, Prince William will be
As he carries enlightenment to the twenty-first century.
So I weep, weep to ease the pain in my heart.
Why are some people so cruel to animals? Does not Buddhism teach loving kindness and loving compassion toward all living beings?
Recently a dog was run over by a truck and suffered for a while and died before I could get him to a veterinary hospital. He couldn't have survived anyway.
This particular dog belonged to a couple who used to keep him tied day and night with a little bit of food thrown at him once in a while. They would go away for days leaving the poor dog tied with no supply of food or water. Kind neighbours whenever they heard him cry fed him but when the owners discovered this they started tying the dog elsewhere so that nobody could get to him without being accused of trespassing. Maybe it was beneath their dignity to have their dog fed by outsiders.
This time again they had gone leaving the dog tied with no supply of food or water. Neighbours had heard him crying a whole day and a whole night. The hungry dog had managed to break free and he must have come out onto the road looking for food when he got run over. The dying dog was a pitiful sight. He was thin and dirty with old wounds on his legs and covered with lice and fleas. What suffering that animal must have gone through while alive. Man, knowing full well how afraid he is of starvation, thirst, pain and death, yet inflicts such cruelty on a poor innocent animal.
Does not the Dhammapada say_
"All tremble at punishment
To all life is dear
Comparing others with oneself
One should neither kill nor cause to kill.
If only man would put into practice these noble teachings of the Lord Buddha!
The shooting incident that took place in the early hours of September at the checkpoint opposite RMV office is accidental but could have been avoided.
The driver, not seeing the security man giving the order to stop, drove slowly but somehow a man was run over and the shooting took place after the van was stopped and as such could have been avoided.
I myself heard the two gun shots and passed that place within seconds. The security men must be more careful and respect valuable lives, especially in this case a young man whose wife is expecting her second child in a week’s time. What agony for the wife to see her husband dying under such tragic circumstances and at such a time due to no fault of his.
Very often the security men are not visible for speeding motorists at night . If they are a little more alert and careful this sort of unnecessary killings could be avoided . He could have shot the van or the tyres without injuring the driver, especially after the van was stopped. There was absolutely no need to shoot the driver at that particular moment.
Hope this will catch the eyes of security men who are manning check points and put a stop to these unnecessary tragic deaths, as otherwise this sort of thing can happen to anybody.
Sunday August 31, 1997 dawned in an eclipse of sorrow and, sadness to many all over the world as the news of Princess Diana’s tragic death flashed on every international screen and newspaper. The intial shock was tremendous - so was the anger of the masses towards the ‘paparazzi’ who had hounded her all her life and finally on her last journey. The anger of the public did not rest at focusing on the freelance photographers, but extended on to any publisher who bought tabloid material and photos.
Diana, a shy young Kindergarten teacher meteored into limelight by her marriage to the heir of the British throne, Prince Charles. She became an overnight fairy tale princess - thanks mainly to the media that built her to the glamourous woman, loving mother, princess of people’s hearts and the royal icon of charity who gave herself unstintingly to charitable causes. Her popularity soared with an enthusiastic and a sympathetic media coverage on her royal ascent.
Then gradually as the media began to feel the pulse of the public interest in her, their curiosity on her personal life began to mount. Whispers and gossip of dissent within the palace walls trickled out - and the media spilled it out, not to mention the eager public who were waiting to devour every crumb it dished out. Once the rat race for the ‘who’s first’ with the raciest gossip began, it was the end of the royal couple’s privacy. The attention was mainly on Diana, beautiful and young, enthusiastic and such a fresh breath on the musty British royalty. She was a young woman who was neglected, a woman who yearned for love that was denied to her from her childhood, too naive to comprehend the full responsibility of her royal role and the maturity of a husband 13 years older to her moulded in a conservative serious atmosphere and very much under the pressure of his parentage. The tragic tale end of a woman who sought compassion, love and fun is now on every newstand and bookshelf and will be very soon on the silver screen.
The responsibility to events that led to her fatal end is questioned in many ways. Was she so desperately unhappy and impulsive in seeking love on the rebound that she trusted the affection of some without question; did she not have any mature friend or relative to give her security, love and advice when she most needed it? When she finally felt she found her happiness was it to be taboo? Her final realisation as she spoke to her journalist friend Richard Kay six hours before her death to say she hoped to fade away from the limelight might have come too late to cheat fate from immortalising her.
Even now the question that yet remains to be answered is whether she was neglected by the British monarchy, who never realised her potential which was sublimated to various public activities. A mourner waiting for many hours in the queue to sign the condolence book at St. James Palace, interviewed by Sky news on Wednesday reported, “The palace has been very mean to Princess Diana and they are mean to her even in death.” This spells out the bitterness amongst the people towards the attitude of the Royal house towards her. The fact the Royal family remained cloistered at Balmoral even on the third day after her death, was shocking to them, when the commoners were there by day and by night for her at her side.
A Memorial Fund has been started, but no mention of an initial donation by the Royal family who would be administering it. As Diana said she would never be the Queen of England, but she certainly was the Queen of the People not only in Britain but all over the Universe, bar race, religion or creed.
Her loss has left a reel of various messages to the British Royalty and to the codes and ethics of Journalism. There is no denying that courting publicity has rewards and losses that have to be faced - the limits which are yet to be defined and accepted.
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