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A nation reduced to pessimism

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A close look at the tension and conflict bedeviling the world today would convince anyone that their root causes remain the same as those affecting mankind from the beginnings of history. Two of these causes have been the economic pressures of hunger and want and the political pressures of tribal aggrandisement.

These causes remain unchanged in essence while they have taken different forms over the years. And today, despite the impressive advances the world has made in the field of economics, democracy and human rights, the original causes mentioned above seem to plague all societies, taking such destructive forms as terrorism.

The antidote against these strong human impulses getting stronger and creating continued misery to mankind, lies in the promotion of meaningful measures aimed at improving living standards of people in all strata of society and curbing the atavistic and destructive impulses of those unable to get over them.

It was obviously the inequitable distribution of the country’s wealth and the desire on the part of different sections of people to selfishly promote their parochial interests at the expense of larger common national interests that have pushed this land of ours to the present predicament. The Black July is annually remembered and condemned by most Sri Lankans. They regard this event as a blot on the contrary’s conscience. It was indeed an ugly manifestation of the combined effect of politics and communalism. Although one political party, namely the UNP, is singled out for condemnation for organising and carrying out the foul deed, supporters of other parties and groups cannot be absolved from blame for their ignominious roles on that occasion.

The embers of communalism exist. And these impulses surface in various disguised forms.

What is, however, clear is that although such a pogrom of the magnitude of Black July 1983 has not occurred since then, communal tension, hatred and jealousy have not died down. The embers of communalism evidently exist. The difference, however, is that these impulses surface themselves in various disguised forms. There is practically none in the political field today, individual or group, that openly advocates discrimination against any ethnic or religious group. They publicly declare their strong commitment to equality and justice to all sections of people in this country. But at the same time some of them do not seem to deviate completely from the concept of a majority community dominating and determining the country's policies and affairs of the people. It is this group of people that obstructs and argues against any measure sought to be adopted to accommodate grievances and demands of aggrieved sections of the country's citizenry. Ironically, they find fuel for their campaigns from the actions and utterances of these disgruntled groups.

It is in this confused and complicated situation that the country is placed today with political leaders and parties following their selfish and partisan agendas while playing only lip service to high value of statesmanship and patriotism. They are continuously embroiled in petty and personal issues while the country keeps slipping down the precipice politically, economically and socially. Instead of sinking narrow party and personal differences and making a combined and collective effort to solve the people's burning problems, they fritter away their time, energy and remaining national resources mainly for their personal or sectional aggrandizement.

So, it is clear that the people of this country may have to wait for a long time before an atmosphere is created for them to move away from the economic pressures and tribal impulses that are at the root of today’s tensions and conflicts. However much we desire to be optimistic, the ground realities of the present state of affairs in the country do not permit us to be in that frame of mind.

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