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.