The “Legacy of Vengeance” – II

A continuation of The “Legacy of Vengeance” – I

A political solution by itself (such as devolution of power), is more likely to convert the problem from one form to another — the civil war may convert into a border dispute or an arms race. The two groups already dislike each other and I doubt if the hatred will have any trouble crossing borders.

Plus Sri Lankans have never been used to tolerating neighbors divided by land borders. The closest neighbor, India, has always been too far across the sea to evoke any strong emotions among Sri Lankans. If Sri Lanka is ever partitioned, the two states (or semi-states) are unlikely to get along.

Permanent solutions
So we come to the question of permanent (long term) solutions. If Sinhalese and Tamils were physically different or if they had clashing beliefs, then some form of partition would have been the only permanent choice. But since our difference are not quite so rigid, there is a better permanent solution, IF we can implement it.

We need to either 1) eliminate the differences or 2) make them invisible. In the case of the first option, eliminate Sinhalese and Tamil in favor of English and we would have eliminated perhaps 90% of what distinguishes Sinhalese from Tamils. It would be a major step in the direction of a homogenous society.

But people who have lived in homogenous societies for a long time have a problem — if they’re ever suddenly faced with diversity, they’re likely to become defensive or hostile. It would be much like the case of a child who is healthy because he is never exposed to germs. In adulthood that lack of exposure may kill him, since he never had the opportunity to develop immunity to germs.

This is why option 2 is the best in the long run — the development of a society where people are effectively blind to cultural differences and diversity (it is difficult to do the same with political and religious beliefs, however). But this is something that has never really been achieved anywhere in the world. Sri Lanka needs a more practical and immediate solution, which brings us back to option 1. Whether it’s a realistic options is a different question.

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