The events over the last few days culminating in today’s holiday has led many people to ask themselves whether they should be celebrating at all. Is it correct to do so? Here is an exchange between a few people. I think they are quite insightful about the different ideas people have.
Marie: Suddenly, ironically, sadly, people seem to be even more conscious of their ethnicity than ever, more combative. At least that’s what I have experienced so far in the last 48 hours. And I thought I was a pessimist.
PJ: You don’t find there is a middle ground of opinion?
TW: This sort of unmitigated joy is disturbing. Because on the one hand, it’s perfectly understandable. And on the other it’s completely inappropriate. Distressing.
Ravana: I think it’s normal to celebrate the end of war. There have been no incidents of violence. Many Tamil Sri Lankans share in the relief, even if some are also saddened by the death of VP.
Marie: PJ, there SHOULD be a middle ground of opinion, definitely. Maybe i am encountering only two extremes. Lucky me 😦 Ravana, it is normal, yes, and no incidents of violence. I am relieved, I am hopeful. I think what I am encountering is people who are saddened by VP’s death being hostile towards their sinhalese friends, and others who are overjoyed, being suspicious of all tamil people. What I meant was, isnt this supposed to be a time for hope and reconciliation? That’s what I thought it would be. I have seen members of ALL communities celebrating. That is great. But deep inside, lots of people see this as a victory for “Sinhalese people” as opposed to Sri Lankans. And I have been made to feel responsible, merely for the fact that I am of that particular ethnicity. It’s crazy.
CW: I don’t think there’s anything to celebrate. This military victory was achieved at a very, very high human cost. It took the lives of hundreds of children and innocent people who had nothing or very little to do with the LTTE. While some people are madly celebrating, large number of others in the warzone are mourning their loved ones. it’s more a time for solidarity than for celebration
NS: all tamil shops are shut — and why, if we should all be celebrating, is there so much tension in the air… I do not get a sense of ‘celebration’ at all.
Why are the ordinary tamils not on the streets?
Too many lives lost to celebrate, but I do feel a sense of… dare I say, hope? (false hope).
The real test will come in the following weeks, when the ‘south’ accepts all minorities into it’s fold with open arms; and the civilians in the north are relocated quickly to their villages.
PSP: Some Singhalese are asking Tamil shops to give money for their celebrations. That might be one reason they are shut. I agree with CW, it’s one thing to be relieved the war is over, another to dance around like monkeys when so many are suffering.
Marie: yeah CW you said it: solidarity, that’s what i want to see. That’s what i dont see and hope for. NS, maybe we have lived too long with this that we are scared to hope. Fingers crossed.
NS: totally agree with CW re. solidarity.
PJ: yeah, its complicated. but we must not forget that many many Sinhala people sent/keep sending food and other supplies to the IDPs. So its not been all celebration. I heard a Buddhist monk on TV, yesterday, I think it was — saying that if more people took atta-sil for Poson, the meals not eaten (you fast at night when you take sil) can be sent to IDPs. There is that sentiment also.
Marie: Yes, PJ. There have been people who really did something useful like that too. What the monk said was inspired. Thanks for reminding me about that, it helps my spirits rise a bit.
PJ: we must always look for both the good and ugly, otherwise its hard to go on. It’s been a good discussion, ty.
Ravana: Yes, there has been a lot of killing over the last 26 years, but that’s over now. If that’s not a cause to be happy, I don’t know what is.
I felt the tension and mixed anticipation on Sunday and Monday, but after yesterday, it’s just pure happiness that the killing is over and there is unobstructed opportunity to race forward. Yes, a lot of people have suffered and are suffering, but this end to the war will mean that that too will change sooner rather than later.
Maybe this text I received from a Tamil Sri Lankan friend absolved me from restraining my feelings: “I got the text of the speech. If he means it all, now its time for a drink.”
NS: i can only hope, wait and see…
Marie: thanks Ravana for sharing that, I agree with your sri lankan tamil friend. Thanks guys, for commenting, it has helped me clarify things in my mind. Sabbe saththa bhavanthu sukithaththa (may all beings be well and happy)
Ravana: Hope is good, but we have to have faith, too, that things will change for the better. If we have a negative view of the future, it is likely that we will automatically exclude ourselves from the movements that have the motivation and the power to shape our future. We can either be part of the process, participating and shaping it, or we can be a passenger in it, and end up somewhere we didn’t want to go.