The timidity of hope
An oft repeated quote in social justice circles is Edmund Burke’s “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. It may again pop up in different forms in the wake of the video posted below
The Asgiriya Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya one of the two foremost chapters of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka has issued a statement on the controversial secretary of Bodu Bala Sena,Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera. It is important to note that this statement has been long time coming in relation to the incidents which happened in 2013 leading up to the riots of Aluthgama, the majority of the public needed to know where the Mahanayakas stood.
“ගලගොඩ අත්තේ ඥාණසාර බික්ෂුවගේ ආවේගකාරී හැසිරීම හා අදහස් ප්රකාශන ශෛලිය අප කිසිසේත් අනුමත නොකරන නමුත් උන්වහන්සේගේ මතවාදය බැහැර නොකරන්නෙමු.”
A blanket acknowledgment given to all of Gnanasara thero’s ideological gripes which range from land issues in the Eastern Province to banning the Halal certificate and vasectomies and methods of birth control is needed to be seen as dangerous. The Prelates of the two chapters are symbolic of moderate Buddhists of the country and whilst it was easy to claim the BBS ideology as an extreme ideology which do not represent “true Buddhism” it is now far more difficult.
The impact of this statement is significant due to the fact that while the Chief Prelates of Malwathu and Asigirya are not on the same level of influence of the Pope or Dalai Lama, they are important figureheads of Buddhism in the country.This is seen when every time a politicians finds himself in Kandy,they visit the prelates coming out with a voice cut of assent to anything said. This voice cut of assent is invaluable to a politician as it brings forward a veneer of approval of the government/opposition’s plans despite both being incredibly disappointing for the majority of time.
Their tacit agreement to these gripes also indicate the present climate of the country. Asian Mirror(a website considered to be fairly moderate in it’s reporting) ran an article where they took opinions of seemingly everyday people on whether they considered Gnanasara Thera responsible for communal violence.The answers they gave are overwhelmingly supportive of the controversial monk.
What went wrong?
The election of the new regime in January 2015 was on the back of many gleaming promises. The main one was a government which is inclusive of all of its constituents. People wanted less corruption.They wanted more representation.They wanted more freedom. They were given little to nothing.
A smaller cabinet-nope.
Significantly reduced corruption-Transparency International may want to have a word with you.
On the other hand there is growing fears of an international conspiracy. The government have been so incredibly poor in its messaging and execution that some days it appears not to be run at all. Botched arrests and failed court cases further add to the aura of political persecutions and witch hunts. The country has turned into a crisis ridden hell-hole in less than 2 years.
When you look at the statement made by the prelates in a wider context it has actually very little to do with the BBS or Gnanasara Thero. The main thrust of the statement falls with the lack of respect given to the monks by “NGOs” and the fear that Buddhism will not be given its due place. The mention of erosion Sinhala Buddhist culture and the in equal treatment of monks by the authorities is also mentioned. One of the most interesting comment made by the prelate is regarding laws that will be aimed at “curbing the Sinhala Buddhists.” This again is due to awful messaging by the government who fail to be transparent. The narrative of the government being run by NGO’s who are attempting to denigrate the cultural fabric of this country is now firmly established. The uncertainty given over the possibility of a new constitution will not help one bit.
One of the comments from that video stated
Niyas Abbas-” Islam is indeed the Majestic Religion. We take our religion seriously unlike all you people. You hv a problem because your scriptures are corrupted . You don’t hv the original message but we have the Quran without the change of a letter.”
I can quote things that are said by Rishad Bathurdeen,Azath Salley and the that can be termed hugely problematic.
and ask why we can’t have laws protecting all women and children in this country.
But most of all the culpability of all these ails live with a government who have dithered far too much in finding the minority who profits from racism and violence in this country. It has absconded the responsibility it has to all of its citizens and now lies in the brink of another crisis.
Those who followed the U.S presidential election will know whats coming.A parliament that is constantly losing approval.A restless and ignored majority. A potential candidate who is a political “outsider” with a promise to shakeup the system.
“Turns out stabbing Caesar didn’t save the republic.It just slightly extended it.”