A case of expedient Adaptation
Walt Whitman said it best:
"Sail, sail thy best, ship of Democracy,
Of value is thy freight, tis not the present only,
The Past is also stored in thee. ..
He ended with these lines:
"Venerable priestly Asia sails this day with thee,
And royal feudal Europe sails with thee. "
By Carl Muller
But Im beginning to wonder. What ship of Democracy will ever sail out of this "venerable priestly" island? And again, what ship of Democracy will ever sail out of Velvettiturai, or Mannar, or Kankesanturai or, for that matter, Trincomalee? Let us look at this objectively. What democracy can we expect from the LTTE? These "liberators" have no such feeling even towards their own kind. Its a fact. The LTTE has no "democratic liking" for the TULF, ergo, nothing the TULF will ever do will be endorsed by the LTTE. This is why even the opening of the Jaffna Public Library was considered an exercise of no purpose to the LTTE.
The LTTE, as we all know, is not a democratic group. Their society is like a vast pyramid with everyone owing allegiance to someone above him. Very like feudalism, but striped black and yellow and a potent thorn in the butt of any government that grows weak and is unable to maintain law and order.
There is no denying that we do have a worse than feudal state in the North where thousands of vassals are still pledged to their leader and do whatever is required of them. This leader, who fancies himself King of the Cats, assumes the right to make his own laws, hold his own courts, settle disputes, levy taxes, fly his flag, punish crime, and ensure that his "peasants" raise the cash he needs to keep him in state.
Come to think of it, do his vassals have any freedom? They wear guns, true, but is that all that is needed to satisfy their half-baked vanity? Does it matter so little that they are ill-fed, ill-clad and ill-housed? A 14th century writer once said: "Among all wretchedness and woe, the condition of bondage and serfdom is the most wretched." Could it be that all these cyanidegulping cadres are only valued for the work they do, for the number of children they abduct, for the people they kill, for the families they terrorise, and not for being human beings? As far as I can see, they dont even own themselves!
I am not being grim without purpose. You tell me: on what ship of Democracy will be ever find a member of the LTTE? Even the rats on board will not be scampering around the after steering compartment looking for Eelam!
Not that we can say much for our own constitutional liberty. Such a pity J.Rs Constitution took no note of the Magna Carta. Now that was a charter worth much thought. Even King John was forced to admit that the laws of the land were Above the will of the ruler and that there were limitations on the absolute power of the king. Yet, to the king of the North (or President/Prime Minister as he may wish to be known) the law of this country does not apply. He rules by force and I suppose, if he were to find the pillars of freedom they will make excellent substitutes for lamp posts!
There are multitudes in this country who still apply the charges made in the American Declaration of Independence to what they feel they have been made to stomach. Look at these extracts from this Declaration:
"He has abdicated government here. . .by waging war against us. . .
"For imposing taxes on us without our consent. . .
"For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us. .
"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns end destroyed lives of our people. . .
"He is at this time transporting large armies to complete the work of death, desolation and tyranny
already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy. . .
The American people levelled these charges against the English monarch and thousands here level much the same against the LTTE. Has the peace process (that it is still a process should tell us something) de-terrorised the terrorist?
The LTTE can still maintain their suicide squads and carry anti-aircraft guns around the place and get quite stroppy when called to question. Yet, they also come out strongly in support of the governments appeal for economic and material aid to rebuild the North. Everything that has been said and done so far has been of timely convenience to the terrorists who shot our own economy to pieces!
Of course, there will be many in their plush offices that will say Im wrong. In truth, we may have discovered in our Northern jungles a remarkable new species of tiger that can change its stripes. This could put us on the zoological map of the world. A special international wildlife conference could be held in Copenhagen or Havana (and why not? We hold lots of confabs everywhere else) and we could parade these new animals before the scientists of both hemispheres. Such marvellous creatures, surely. Why, even the Sinhalese lion only holds a sword. These new animals can twitch their tails and hold aloft an AK -47! And see how the stripes keep changing. They are much in evidence when the animals are in their natural Wanni habitat, but they seem to disappear in Oslo and Berlin and Thailand. Natural adaptation, you say? Hmmm. How about expedient adaptation?
Meanwhile, Walt Whitmans ship of Democracy also sails on:
"With these, Time voyages in trust, the antecedent nations sink or swim with thee. . ."
The question is, in this country, who will finally sink, who will swim?
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