THE SECULAR STATE
TOWARDS SYRIA OR SINGAPORE?
Priyan Rajapaksa wonders in which direction Sri Lanka is headed today
Should Sri Lanka have an Act of Supremacy that improves on England’s Act of Supremacy and name the president as leader of all faiths? Sri Lanka is a single state with many divisive religions and politicians whereas a secular state
is the need of the hour.
It’s been more than eight years since the civil war ended but we’re being set up for a more factitious war by our so-called ‘leaders.’ They’re competing for our minds, hungry for our donations and souls, and thirsty for our blood.
And it’s the citizens who bleed; not the leaders…
KNOWLEDGE BUFFS This month in New Zealand, we watched five days of TV debate on how this country should react over the next 20 years to the electronic and robotic assault on employment.
In the meantime, I read about a Chinese satellite that may denounce Einstein’s theory of relativity. In Canada, an almost complete dinosaur skeleton was found. And elsewhere on Planet Earth, human knowledge continues to expand.
NEWS FROM HOME The news and views from Sri Lanka however, is both frightening and archaic…
A politician from the east wants a province based on ethnicity. From the north, a request has been made for caste based representation in governing bodies. And from the saffron robed comes a call for them to be supreme – damn the consequences, it would seem.
Of what use is a 92 percent literacy rate if it has led people of all communities to read only outdated religious texts and myths, and become bigots?
The world has spun 919,000 times since 500 BC when the Sri Lanka myth began. What a waste of energy this has been, to carry our people on that arduous journey. We have yet to witness modernity; and we remain stuck in that age of caste, creed, ethnicity and religion.
Many Sri Lankans wish our country could be similar to Singapore with modern facilities and pleasant surroundings. But our fragmented mindsets are taking us towards the desolation of Syria, Iraq and Libya.
DIVIDE AND RULE As for me, an accountant who only believes numbers, the drumbeats of ethno-religious war are an attempt by some religious, ethnic and political leaders to grab subscriptions from a gullible and subservient population to sustain themselves… and divide and rule.
Since the caveman days, the strongest thug and most convincing raconteur within our tribes carved out respective areas of influence. Over time, these thugs and raconteurs metamorphosed into kings and priests. The kings claimed divine authority and wore crowns while the raconteurs claimed representation from the gods, wore strange garbs and anointed the thugs.
They worked hand in glove, you could say.
This proved a truly sustainable economic model for kings and priests alike. The king and his gang (called ‘nobles’) had a monopoly on land they leased to the people. Meanwhile, the priests were granted some land and a monopoly on afterlife matters.
From our tax-paid income, the priests took the all too familiar ‘10 percent’ (known as ‘the tithe’). Whenever kings and priests clashed over sharing the loot, we foolishly fought and died either as royalists or martyrs.
SPLIT IN ENGLAND The most publicised split between rulers and priests was in England when Henry VIII was appointed head of the Anglican church by the parliamentary Act of Supremacy in 1534.
Henry raided Catholic churches and took away much of their wealth and privileges, to bring them under state control. He had only two snakes in the basket: Catholics and Anglicans. We have a multi-headed hydra to divide us and divert our attention from the task at hand – i.e. to rejuvenate the nation.
OUR BLOODY SPAT We had our own bloody spat between the Abhayagiri and Mahavihara factions when Mahayana Buddhism was dominant in Sri Lanka, and had custody of the sacred tooth relic. But that inconvenient fact is glossed over when we’re taught history and Buddhism.
Fake news preceded Donald Trump, it would appear.
POWERFUL BALLOT We should make changes peacefully by disengaging from the bigots and crooks. Politicians and priests will not do it for us. We can do it with two pieces of paper, and the ballot and a 1,000-rupee note. We should use the ballot to stop electing people who think along religious, ethnic or caste lines.
Use your rupee notes wisely, and stop supporting religions and clergy who create divisions. If we citizens can forget about what comes in the afterlife and fix this life first, we may yet become a Singapore. Else we’re destined to head in the direction of Syria, Iraq or Libya.
We need to think seriously before we martyr ourselves for the sake of old ideas. To me, the afterlife is mere conjecture. After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Is it not the same for you?