Addressing the ethnic problem

When I started this blog, I intended it to concentrate mainly on economic and political reforms. But I find myself increasingly addressing the ethnic problem. Because nobody who is serious about reforms can afford to ignore this issue.

But I can think of no simple solution. I don’t believe saying things like “we should learn to live in harmony with each other” or “let’s be more tolerant” goes anywhere. They’re statements of the goal, not how it might be achieved. Simple minded appeals don’t work.

“System changes” too, by themselves will not be enough. We may bring new legislation or go for a federal solution, but the underlying animosity between Tamils and Sinhalese remain. In the face of legal barriers they may find new ways to express it.

Personal changes are not easy to come by. One option is to change our system of education to turn out children who are more tolerant of other cultures and view points. But I’m deeply skeptical of government-sponsored reprogramming of children — even if it’s supposedly done for the better.

Stopping the war is not the same as solving the ethnic problem. Complete military defeat of the LTTE AND a complete give-in to the LTTE are both equally ineffective in this regard.

4 Responses to Addressing the ethnic problem

  1. voice of reason? says:

    I agree. Forcing a solution on people no matter where negotiated by whom or how would not solve anything till the people themselves change.

    I believe education and information is the key to this. Government sponsored or not schooling is one of the most effective methods in reaching chlidren. But this can’t be solely relied upon. Leave alone ethical questions related to government-sponsored reprogramming, the education provided through schooling is unsuited to deal with this matter not only due to its limited reach but also due to questions regarding it’s neutrality.

    Civic society needs to get together and develop programmes to get people talking about the issues that divide us. Correct, broad based and unbiased information is the key for people to not only understand the truth behind historical and social circumstances, but it is also key in helping people to understand the solutions that are mooted. The knowledge possessed of historical incidents dating forwards from even the time of Dutugamunu and up to the incidents of the 20th century are highly partisan. The understanding that the man on the street has of devolution, federal and unitary structures and conflict solving mechanisms is based on what is preached by political parties and other griups with vested interests. This education is far from responsible and is based on half truths and selective reasoning. The emotionally charged conclusions this one sided education leads to creates bigotry. Public will has far too often been molded on such grounds and then exploited to push certain interests.

    Through creating interest in the issues at a grassroots level (that’s you and me – the man on the street) people can be motivated to seek out information for themselves. Through proper organization this information can be provided in consise formats. It is important that such information should be freely available, unbiased and not geared towards one identified political goal or solution. By gaining this information people would be able to make up their own minds on what should be done.

    Simply speaking it must be made a fad, a trend, a cool thing to do to know what’s happening and have strong opinions on what should be done. It is time for those of us who are interested in the core issues to get others talking about it as well.

    Rather than having politicians moulding public opinion its time that public opinion molds politicians.

  2. Sam says:

    // One option is to change our system of education to turn out children who are more tolerant of other cultures and view points.//
    Agree with you 100% in this – this is the fact most of the people does not care about at all. We send every human in the island through Training process for 10 – 16 years.
    A dog trainer can train a good dog in 2-3 months. But our education system fails to train humans to fit with the current nature.
    Failure to do so not only brings us tribal issues, it is troubling all over the society.
    Parents do not really care about these issues. Their target is getting the kids to migrate some where – anywhere – when ever the chance comes. We can’t blame them.

    If a dog trainer can train a dog to meet requirements – a teacher should be able to train a human to meet current requirements too.

  3. poetlost says:

    I advocate a change in the educational structure.

    Yesterday, at lectures we had an interesting discussion on equality and the ethnic strife in SL.

    As we all know, Sri Lanka has many well-known schools that take pride in the fostering of a certain ethnic/religious group – like Sinhala Buddhism is to Ananda College, Tamil Hinduism is to Hindu College, etc Obviously with such an educational system that encourages seggregation, we are going to have school leavers who lack empathy towards the other races and religions.

    That has to change. It can no longer function if we are serious about building a Sri Lankan conciousness as opposed to a Sinhala Buddhist conciousness, a Tamil conciousness or a Muslim conciousness.

    Most people are quick to deride International schools, but I think we can take a leaf out of those schools, which for the most part work on the principle of pluralism when it comes to the admission of students. The sooner the rest of the education system follows suit, the faster SL’s problems will begin to disapper.

  4. Sam says:

    Hey Poetlost.. Yes.. Religion and Tribe take over future (children) whenever society is weak.
    Education – that is how they do that. It is easy to brain wash children than adults.
    Once you have a generation of children brainwashed – religion get enough support from the community for gain more power. (We see this enough in Sri Lanka).

    Government is the tool; humans invented for control those issues. Unfortunately in some countries religion is powerful enough to control Government too.

    When I was in third grade teacher asked me ‘Are you Buddhist?’.
    Well. I didn’t know who own upstairs or the possibility of 72 chicks I could have get when I go to upstairs..
    I just said ‘Yes’. But I was really thinking about chocolate at that time.
    Latter on I spend so much time correcting myself and studding other religions.
    But others – my friends – they have life – not like me. They have girl friends – wife – kids – they don’t have time to spend learning religion crap. They stuck to what they have thought. They have become exactly that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: