Making sense of the jubilance and victory, amidst confused feelings

I am stuck in traffic, stationary for the past half an hour at the Colpetty junction because the roads are closed as President Mahinda Rajapasksa and Ministers are returning back to Colombo after a jubilant and victorious speech on the victory of the Sri Lankan government in defeating the LTTE and killing its leader, Prabhakaran. While I write this to while away the time, I hear and see helicopters flying above and hear the sounds of Kafirs flying too high for me to see from the car.

A passenger in a three wheeler watches me while I type this. He smiles at me. It is a smile of victory.

On TV I hear people on the street commenting on the victory, some calling it a victory for the Sinhalese, and the Sinhala Buddhist, some wishing the President the status of a Buddha for bringing peace to Sri Lanka.

There is no doubt that this Government has done something no other Government could do. This Government has militarily defeated one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world. This government has done something that not even America, the worlds largest and most powerful army could do with the war on terror. Kill the leader of one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world.

All around me I see relief and jubilance. A 26 year old war has apparently ended. Our generation has not known a Sri Lanka without this war, and suddenly it seems possible, that it is over.

I am left with confused feelings.

Why am I not rejoicing and jubilant. Joining in the exhilarating conversations that people around me are having, those conversations that are commending the President, feeling that at last justice has been done, that a new beginning is possible.
I do not condone what the LTTE did, and stood for in its terror tactics. If as an organization they are wiped out, I am glad, we are rid of a terrorist organization that had dubious honour of inventing the suicide belt and using child soldiers.

I am left with confused feelings.

I feel that due to many historical reasons the Tamil people in our country did have grievances, that the ordinary Tamil person did not have some of the same choices that a Sinhala person has.

Unlike immigrants that protest for their rights in other Western countries. The Tamil people are not immigrants in our country. They are from the same land as the Sinhala. In fact, myth and history and now gene analysis indicates that the Sinhala are descendents from Indian Tamils (69% ) with about 25% Bengali and only about 4% from the natives of Sri Lanka (Veddhas), .

I do believe this land belongs to them as much as it does to the Sinhalese.
But I do not condone the manner in which some Tamil group tried to obtain these rights.

I am left with confused feelings.

I do not advocate violence and killing and hatred and I don’t think that deep in the hearts of those rejoicing in the death of Prabhakaran advocates any of these under normal circumstances. The Sinhalese hate the LTTE, and there may be a minority of Sinhalese that do not see a difference between the Tamil people and LTTE.

I cannot rejoice in the fact that the victory flags that are being waved about comes at the expense of many lives; the lives of Sri Lankan soldiers, lives of LTTE soldiers, lives of ordinary civilians, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim.

I met a convoy of cars, vans, three wheelers waving Sri Lankan flags, and I felt personally guilty, as if these people are celebrating the death of the hundreds and thousands of people who have died. The victory parades seems to be gloating. Of course this is an assumption I make. Most are celebrating hope, a future free from terrorism, a feeling unknown for over 26 years. They are justified in their jubilation.

I am left with confused feelings.

But I know some are celebrating the death of the terrorists and most specifically the LTTE leader.

I cannot celebrate the violent killing of anyone, even if it is the leader of one the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world. Some would say, it is justified, as he is responsible for the deaths of so many.

Nothing justifies a violent killing.

All who have died are human beings, even if war makes us behave like wild animals.
We have fought a war based on differences, but I look at the mutilated remains of corpses, that only show a human. Flesh and blood. In their demise, I can’t see the difference between their hopes and dreams from those who killed them. We are just flesh and blood. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I do not want these victorious celebrations to hurt or humiliate anyone, especially the Tamil people. Such pain brings on more pain and hatred that will only feed the cycle of violence we have been part of.

Today (Tuesday), President Rajapaksa said “"We must find a homegrown solution to this conflict. That solution should be acceptable to all the communities. "That solution, which would be based on the philosophy of Buddhism, will be an example to the whole world." (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gVoaDFmbCYS-Usz9ACDRIengj21QD989OJTO0)

Gloating over the violent death of anyone is not in accordance with the Dhamma. This is the source of my discomfort, this inability to show exuberance at the violence and death that marks the military victory.

But I am filled with a quiet anticipation, a sense of disbelief, a sense of relief. I am, girding my energy for the work ahead. The work of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of fulfilling the aspirations of the Tamil people of the Muslim people and the Sinhala people, of creating a land that belongs to the Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher people. The work of fighting the mistrust and hatred between brothers and sisters, children of the same land. This is the real war and this is the real work to be done.

Maybe the first step is to translate the Sri Lankan national anthem in to Tamil, so that the Tamil People can sing it with conviction, with understanding, with love. So that we, children of one mother, “Eka mawekuge daru kala bawina”, can sing it as one.

I am left with confused feelings that only indicate what I hope for, what I pray for.

I pray for all those who lost their lives in this terrible war.
I hope we never forget this dark episode in our history, so we may never repeat it again.
I hope we forgive each other for the terrible deeds we have done to each other.
I hope we learn each other’s tongues so that we speak as one.
I hope we learn to hear each other and listen to each other.

I hope we dream together.

I hope we co-create a peaceful Sri Lanka.