Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Polarisation

Met some friends for dinner at the Golden Mile on Friday. Food was quite good, prices fairly reasonable and the atmosphere good, enlivened by a private party taking place at the restaurant.

One of the people remarked that he had met an old school mate at a reunion yesterday. My friend and his friend, lets call him X, had been talking a while. It turned out X was under the impression that all Tamils supported the LTTE and was genuinely surprised when my friend informed him that on the contrary a large number opposed them. Now X is a man in his late thirties, a qualified architect and studied at a popular Colombo catholic school. The fact that a mature, urbanised educated man could hold such a view illustrates the degree to which the country is polarised.

It is human nature to move around with people who are 'like us' in most ways; people from similar backgrounds and upbringing, our friends and family are all drawn from the same sort of strata so most people who do not look beyond their close circle are likely to see and experience only their circle and their views are shaped accordingly. Under normal circumstances this would not be a problem, people having a parochial view of a situation would not cause a problem, but in a country where issues of race have become a problem then such a narrow view points to a lot of problems ahead.

Without dialogue between the communities, suspicion and fear can only grow; this of course being fanned by extremist political parties.

10 comments:

kalusudda said...

You said the word Jack, "Dialogue" or dialog, as we say here is the key.

sach said...

What I've always thought is that at least the younger generations should be educated more about these issues. I've been to five schools (no, none of them kicked me out) and none of them made any effort to teach kids anything about modern history. Sure there were things like Current Affairs but they were more about what was happening in the world like environmental issues, etc. While those were important things, it wouldn't have hurt to educate kids about what's going on in the country as well.

I was shamefully uninformed and misinformed until I entered University and I always wish I knew the things I know now, earlier because my perspective about what is going on in the country has changed so much.

Jack Point said...

The problem with history is that it is becoming politicised. Did you hear that all students (even English medium students) will be required to learn history in Sinhalese? I don't know what texts will be used but bet some people have been busy rewriting texts to suit their particular agenda.

DeeCee said...

yea...after 13 years in a sinhala buddhist school (leading btw...bah..) i only started to hang with tamil people at work. i really wish they would mix the schools.seriously those sinhala-only initiators should burn in hell for what they did to our country. it just puts out suspicious, ignorant people into society.

Jack Point said...

Deecee, went through that myself, was very surprised to encounter significant numbers of Tamils in the workplace. There were a handful in school - the "D" class - the rest of the students never mixed with them and there were on-going battles and feuds with them.

Spider said...

well.. i think i was fortunate to have the opportunity to move closely with quite a few tamil people over the years and therefore i know for a fact that not all of them are in support of the LTTE; however, i can understand the point you are trying to make. I believe that for the people of Sri Lanka to be able to live in harmony a review of the educational system and the general education of the public is necessary. It's sad to think of where our country is [potentially] heading

Agni said...

The easiest thing to do would be to mix Sinhalese and Tamils during the English period - at least they will know "others". They did that in our school for a few years - but I don't think they do it any more.

What about the older generation? how do we change their views?

N said...

I went to an international school so mixed with a bunch of people (one of the few advantages of such a school)...one of my best friends was and currently is a Tamil. In colllege I started going out with this Lankan girl who was from a 'bit' of a sheltered background and a Sinhala Buddhist school....it was quite an eye opening experience to realize she didn't have any Tamil or Muslim friends...in fact it was quite incomprehensible. As deecee said...the sinhala only buggers should burn in hell (as should any extremists)

TheWhacksteR said...

More than anything else, I think it’s just a strong tendency to stay within ones comfort zone as much as possible. Even this may seem okay. but such tendencies tends to blunt the persons mind to possibilities that other people may think differently leading to irrational assumptions classing people into different categories as a whole, based on their differences to the person concerned.

Maybe a simple lack of thinking is the issue here.

Jack Point said...

Agreed, Whack.

Also the us/them rhetoric has worked. Who said propaganda does not work?