Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Diasporic Perception

With the termination of the CFA many are probably in a similar mindset to myself, not that I've got the faintest idea what's going on in your head of course.

I worry for the family and friends I have in Sri Lanka, fearful that there'll be something detonated or something erupting at any time. The GoSL officially ended the CFA and, as T points out here, the agreement was largely a farce anyway. It really is more of an official acknowledgement that no party is going to continue to pretend that there's a ceasefire going on, whilst continuing to bomb the fuck out of the other "side" anyway.

But I was also thinking hard about how we, the Sri Lankan diaspora, view things from our overseas posts, specifically in comparison to how someone who actually lives in Sri Lanka sees and feels about things.

The biggest difference is the way in which we watch things, waiting for something to happen, whereas so many people who live in SL just get on with their everyday lives. I've just read that Minister DM Dassanayake has been killed in an attack in Ja-Ela, literally while I've been typing these sentences I heard about it.

The terrible truth is that we expect things to happen to Politicians, to leaders and the hierarchy of the LTTE. People have mixed feelings about military personnel, about police officers and about LTTE cadres but it's a tragic and undeniable situation that death or injury is a very likely and realistic occupational hazard.

That doesn't mean I condone it, merely that I recognise it happens and certain people, for many different reasons actually place themselves in the line of fire. Often those reasons are admirable and genuine. Many great people selflessly believe that the good of their cause is far more important than their own meagre existence. One doesn't have to agree with the cause to have an uncomfortable sense of respect for those types, but it's a tough moral judgement call to have to make.

But the aspect of terrorism I find so despicable is the loss of life, the pain and the suffering that is endured by people who have never put themselves in the line of fire. People whose biggest interest is to carry on with their day to day existence, to make enough money to pay for the biggest cabinet in the world, to buy things that have gone up by 22% in the last year.

Going out on a bit of a limb I would guess that most of the Sri Lankan blogosphere consists of people who have a little bit more than average wealth, people who have regular access to a computer and the required technology. And that means we're often Sri Lankans who have a politician or seven that we're related to, hardly something that's statistically unlikely but still probably true.

Yet we're also the people who have friends and family amongst "everyday" folk, who may be involved in something at any time. Most of us are also "everyday" folk who could be caught up in something at any time, not me at my desk in West London, but stick wth me on the principles here.

I was talking about this with someone the other day, about the fact that the Sri Lankan conflict would be so much more easy to deal with if it only involved people who were the "line of fire" groups. But, if it were only those chaps who were targetted, I deduced that it wouldn't be terrorism, it would be assasinations, still a bummer but perhaps a more palatable one. The problem then becomes exacerbated when a palatable series of events doesn't get the attention that outright terrorism generates.

And the defintion of terrorism is sketchy at best. Clearly it involves violence and the threat of fear, but will the end justify the means?

Devolution, Eelam or none of the above. Will the end justify the 32,000 dead, the 200,000 internally displaced and the 2 or 3 generations of people that have been born into this period and who have never lived in a peaceful society?

I don't know. But we, you and they get on with their lives anyway.

Paul Merton, one of my favourite comedians has a joke. It goes something like this:

"During the war my Dad used to say that we shouldn't worry about bombs, the only one that would get us was one that had our name on it. That used to worry our next door neighbours, Mr and Mrs Doodlebug."


cerno said...

"Doodlebug" refers to a V1 rocket used by the Nazis to attack the UK during WW2

the1truecoolguy said...

Cerno - Thanks for the clarification!!

I do have a similar mindset. I wonder what will happen, but as you said, from our point we can only watch and wait (for now)...unless there is something that can be done, but I haven't quite figured it out yet!

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Sorry if my doodlebug reference wasn't clear. I forgot that they were such a "local" thing.