Erasing the evil | Daily News

Erasing the evil

A special service and mass was held at St. Sebastian’s Church for the souls of those who died on Easter  Sunday bomb attacks. Picture by Sulochana Gamage
A special service and mass was held at St. Sebastian’s Church for the souls of those who died on Easter Sunday bomb attacks. Picture by Sulochana Gamage

The ‘radicalization’ of some young Muslims and they’re going astray to extreme militancy caused death in three places of worship and three hotels. What has actually made them go astray is an interpretation of some Quranic texts in a manner that is unacceptable and instigative of immeasurable disaster not only to fellow Muslims and followers of other religions but to mankind itself. People of many nations are not only sympathizing with Sri Lanka over the tragic loss of so many innocent lives and are willing to help her recover and return to normalcy. All wish to be engaged in eradicating this terrorism because all of humanity is threatened with unimaginable calamity. People anywhere being suddenly terrorized by any extremist religious fanatic must be prevented.

The vast majority of Muslims, more than 99.99% of them, do not agree with the belief, lifestyle and action of the extremist fanatical terrorists who have imbibed anti-social interpretations of religious texts and acted on them causing irreparable destruction to life and property while also destroying themselves. The Statement by a Collective of Sri Lankan Muslims, among whom are many distinguished and respected persons, conveying heartfelt sympathies and expressing the sorrow of the Muslims to the families of the victims is ample evidence of their genuine solidarity with the grieving community and with all other Sri Lankan citizens and their loyalty to Sri Lanka our common motherland.

The misguided group that carried out the barbaric and heinous acts has done so in the midst of much wealth and prosperity they had and in the face of the possibility of legitimately earning further gainful means to live a contented and happy life.

What has made them follow an ideology, get brainwashed to plot and plan through simultaneous suicide bombing the killing of a mass of people unknown to them who have done them no wrong? The minds of these fanatics have been so distorted by a fanaticism that had made them think that what they do is a service to Allah! They have been captivated in their youthful years by an ideology with a flawed understanding of Allah and Islam, themselves and humankind.

Now we have forgotten that before Independence some young men who studied abroad, were captivated by the Marxist ideology of economic liberation through a violent overthrow of the existing system of government and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The misled JVP insurgents of 1971 and 1989 were Marxist inspired. (The Marxist inspired Communism of Russia did not last 75 years as since 1991 it been outlawed.) This shows that all human beings need to be guided without any admixture of error of judgement to non-violent and peaceful ways of living and social reform. Even a small error at the beginning could lead to the social tragedy at the end. (As Aristotle said, ‘To en arche micron en teh teleuteh ginehtai pammegethes’, what is small at the beginning becomes big at the end of the process). Today, those at the summits of power, in certain instances, can make no errors of judgement, as an error can cost hundreds of lives.

HELP PARENTS TO BE PRIMARY EDUCATORS

Nevertheless, there is a change of attitude that is very much needed in Sri Lanka in the field of education including religious education and in the whole of our society. A conversion of the hearts of our people is very necessary for social integration.

Right from the beginning, all education including religious instruction should begin from what is most natural and fundamental. And that is to grow in humanness, to relate, to be welcoming, friendly, kind, gentle, pleasing. This is going to the root, starting at the bottom and focusing first on the most fundamental, important human and social values.

When a child is born, the most fundamental thing focused on is enabling the child to survive, preserving its life and ensuring the possibility of the child’s healthy growth. Even the pain of injections or surgical interventions are to ensure healthy growth. Every child’s mother and father rejoice at the birth of their child and look on him as the extension, enhancement and fulfilment of their union and love. They do everything possible to assure their child’s life, survival and comfort and give it appropriate nourishment aiding the process of development. As the child is totally dependent on the parents, they attend to many other things that aid their child to properly relate to others besides the parents, siblings and family members and mature towards an acceptable level and standard of human maturity and adulthood so that their child could associate well with others, become independent, able to think properly on his own and act with responsibility within one’s own family and with all others.

Most parents do not have a basic understanding that they are the primary educators of their children. The State does not consider the family as the most important unit in society and does next to nothing to equip young couples to assume the responsibilities of parenthood which are new to them. Parenting needs preparation. Parents seek the help of the schools to equip their children with the knowledge of certain subjects that are needed for them to maintain and improve on the needs and services to their fellowmen in society and also earn their living. Unfortunately, rather than doing one’s best, collaborating with and serving fellow human beings, outwitting and overcoming them, cheating them and even destroying others for one’s own survival and selfish purposes have become quite ordinary.

STUDY TO SERVE HUMANITY

Humanity needs a wide variety of studies. Training of minds, hearts, spirits, discovery and enrichment of talents, skills and the cultivation of a vital aesthetic sense in every individual in society, need orderly attention and disciplined development. A wholesome and integral education should see to that.

Though all parents may not have clear ideas about what type of education their children need, all do have a vague notion about a good education that would make their children good citizens. Most parents want their children to have an education in a good school so that their children may study to pass exams, do further studies, gain professional qualifications and do a well-paid job for all to live comfortably. Though study of religious teachings and testing in examinations have today become a part of education and school curricula, application to life of what has been learnt, and living according to religious principles though never monitored, clearly appear in some people’s lives as their compassion, loving-kindness, sense of service, friendliness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness and joyfulness shine forth in them. Application of extremist teachings that has been learnt has been fiercely demonstrated by the suicide bombers.

People also need to have greater exposure to social thinkers and reformers and all those who uphold democratic social values such as artists, dramatists, film directors, social philosophers, journalists, writers and poets who promote refined and decent human values. They should still prevail in society and not be submerged by commercialism, acquisitive consumerism and inward-looking distorted and stagnant apathetic religious traditions. People need to be more intellectually engaged at least through newspapers which often lie unread and are used to wrap things. Most of our people are far from the culture of ongoing education and life-long interests in pursuits of a loving heart, of the intellect and the spiritual life.

One begins to wonder as to what has become of our people and what kind of heart and intellectual calibre they have got after their spending more than a decade in school. Even religious observance and practice is based more on feelings, thoughtless emotions and routine practice rather than on a meaningful grasp of doctrine founded on compatibility with human enhancement, reasoning and understanding. Just as misguided religious education has distorted the human and has affected the Muslim extremist fanatics, others could have become unthinking performers of rituals. Followers of other religions and misguided political activists too could be affected likewise and grow to act like terrorist fanatics if they do not hold on to the enduring values of life among human beings. These have happened in Sri Lanka and they could happen again.

SOCIAL STABILITY

The focus of all parties and all governments are mainly on increasing production, economic advancement, progress and general well-being with extra comforts added to life. But social stability is not built solely from the satisfaction of material aspects of life.

Stability of any society is engendered by the inner satisfaction, contentment and a sense of security that people feel prevailing in society as a result of sound interpersonal and community relationships, transparent trust, communication and reconciliation that is true and sincere. Governments should strengthen these relationships by establishing equality of all before the law and extending to all communities and individuals constituting the national community honour and respect.

Ego absorbed politicians deficient in education and intelligence and self-centred public administrators do not have the breadth of vision and insight to care about the whole national community and the security of all citizens. Social thinkers, journalists and those who are critical of the style of governance are persecuted by those in power.

Perceptive religious leaders give sound leadership to all men of goodwill and point out to the most pressing social issues disregarded by power-hungry politicians but which are of crucial importance to people’s general well-being.

EDUCATION TO INSPIRE

A society on the way to righteousness should have just laws as unjust laws could bring on excruciating sufferings on innocent people. A good example of it is Pakistan’s blasphemy laws which some Muslims use to forcibly take over other people’s land and take revenge. To its great credit and due to lack of evidence and contradictions in the testimonies of witnesses the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned the convictions of blasphemy and set free Asia Bibi, after ten years of unjust imprisonment. It is the humanness of the judges that made law and reason prevail. Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court under Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva did not remain unblemished in its treatment of a petitioner Tony Emmanuel who was not even given an opportunity to speak in his own defence.

An acceptable democratic model of society is founded on a just system of education. While the State should apportion sufficient funds to provide to all its citizens a quality education, including university, medical and legal education, and through good educationists exercise a judicious direction and supervision, a hegemony and State monopoly of education should be avoided.

Today, in the sphere of education, the focus is on the politics of school admissions, distribution of uniforms, tabs, provision of facilities. Everything is influenced by oncoming provincial, parliamentary and presidential elections.

The system of Education patronized by governments of diverse political strands and ideologies has over seven decades also produced generations of mediocre and uncouth politicians and crooked public servants who have abused their positions, remained inert facing challenges, misbehaved in Parliament, embezzled the state and enriched themselves by cheating the people who have become highly disillusioned.

However, education that inspires, forms, transforms and humanly enhances students should be given appropriate attention. Such an integral education can be managed only by well qualified, well trained, highly motivated teachers whose very personalities impact on the students, change and humanly improve them. Politicians who politicize education ruin not only education but the country and its people. 


 

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