Friday, November 19, 2004

The aftermath

Being many oceans away from paradise isle, I have been unable to keep abreast of all the developments and destruction that is going on within the pearl of the Indian Ocean during the past few months. As it is typically the case with pearls, I would assume that the irritation and suffering is still very much a part of daily life for a majority who are poor and powerless.

The war is not officially over yet but we have been at war for more than 20 years. Even though the cause of the war may have its roots in history, many agree that the war itself began in its current scale with the 1983 massacre of 13 soldiers by the LTTE – where the people of the south reacted in a most disgraceful manner (apart from the LTTE there were many more armed rebel groups in the north at that time). As disgraceful as it was and is, the fact is that we as a nation could not bear the deaths of 13 of our own. That is how sensitive we were then.

Fast-forward a decade and a half and see how we reacted when 1500 soldiers were massacred in Mulativu and when the Dalada Maligawa was bombed. One can argue that we had learned from our mistakes after 1983 and matured as a nation, but on the other hand we forgot those incidents within weeks. (I can recal in vivid detail the tragic death of Princes Diana in August 1997 and the Maligawa Bombing in January 1998 and how by June 1998 - we were still mourning the death of the English princes with more anguish than the attack on our most sacred national treasure!) The daily death-toll of soldiers in the news received less attention than the cricket scores that followed. Our hearts had hardened and we had lost our sensitivity. We as a nation had forgotten the value of life.

It is much easier to make a soldier out of a man than to make a man out of a soldier. If you were given a machine gun and asked to shoot those in front of you, would you or could you do it? This is what "training" does to the mind of a soldier. The average soldier gets a "thrill" out of killing the 'enemy' because that is the only way that he can ignore the immorality of his actions. This is not an erosion of their morality – but rather a mask they wear unconsciously to hide themselves from self judgement. Society however makes them heroes and champions of the nation because they are the only ones who make a genuine sacrifice for the sake of the nation – and they sacrifice their lives. When generals and commanders talk about the morale of the Armed Forces– this is what they mean – their willingness to kill. The dark truth is that a soldier who gets a 'kick' out of killing need to keep going – or else he would suffer psychologically – they may call it boredom but it could be that their conscience is catching up on them! Either way, they are men with noble intentions who have been forced to indulge in an evil to safeguard the sense of security of a nation and the political interests of an elite few.

What is happening to the thousands of soldiers who don't get to 'indulge' in active combat as a result of the ceasefire and subsequently with the dawn of a permanent "lack of war"? Their stress levels will increase as a result of the fact that they don't get to 'kill' anymore and they would eventually engage in acts of violence against society. When we hear about army "deserters" causing all sorts of trouble; this is what is taking place. It is a complex problem with its roots in psychology and a gloomy influence on sociology.

At the end of the war, the soldiers should be 'de-militarised' and rehabilitated before they can be re-integrated into the society. This is a very complex process and one that might even cost a lot. That is the cost of peace in the aftermath of war and next big challenge that we will have to face as a nation. What we may have to face as we try to rehabilitate the combatants of both sides could be a war of sorts in its own right. Imagine the stories we will hear and read from the soldiers who come back – how they lost their best friends in battle, of the widows and orphans that were left behind by those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the memories of fire and destruction in the minds of refugees. How will we face the obliteration of an entire generation and the erosion of a grand culture that had evolved through millennia? How will we look back on the ‘80s and ‘90s and deal with memories where we rejoiced when we heard that our ‘enemies’ have been killed by their thousands – when it would have dawned on us by then that they were in fact our own brothers and sisters?

Think about it… and you will better understand what's going on…

Saturday, November 06, 2004

It's time for bed

Since the exams are over, I have decided to join the bears of the north and go into hibernation.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

On the matter of - Alwis Vs Donne...

Mr Donne and his "no man is an island" theory sure need some revision... Me thinks we are all islands and if we are not, we should be. This is not just my smart idea.

Kahlil Gibran says;
"But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."

Yes! You heard right!
A moving sea that separates each of us - quite definitively making us islands!

I vote for Mr Gibran and his "every man (and woman) should be an island" policy!

After an "Ethical Dilemma"...

Exams end tomorrow,
But strife and elation continue…
Is there any advice we could borrow?
When life is sustained by both wit and sinew.