Monday, August 1, 2011

Countdown to the Conference: 11 days - An Uphill Battle

            The struggle to plant the seeds of reconciliation within the cultural consciousness of Sri Lanka does not occur in a vacuum but requires a battle against the darker tendencies of our human nature.  The drive to succeed often lies coupled with a characterization of an enemy that must be overcome.  The enemy can be real, fictional, abstract, or simply the personal demons that are unique to an individual.  This otherwise neutral mentality can become a recurring problem when it is continuously manifested between people groups who have real potential for compromise and cooperation.  Regardless of the reasons for the commencement of Sri Lanka’s civil war, the conflict has led to the ongoing characterization of the other party as an enemy to be defeated or, at the very least, bypassed.  This reaction can draw out hostilities even when it is in the societal interest for fighting to cease.  Unfortunately, the drive to implement one’s own limited agenda narrows the definition of success to a limited cultural sphere while excluding consideration of other people’s betterment.  This, in turn, reinforces the depiction of others as hostiles, and a vicious cycle of hatred ensues.

            Since such cycles do not crumble independently, Sri Lanka Unites strives to provide impetus for change by rewriting the ethnic caricatures and stereotypes that have become culturally embedded within Sri Lanka.  The entrenched nature of the self-sustaining process implies that uprooting its foundation is difficult and can only theoretically occur at two points.  Either the interests of both parties must expand to accommodate the needs of others, or the portrayal of the other must shift in a positive direction.  If one of these options is accomplished, its implementation will strengthen the other link in the chain, and the cycle will be reversed.  SLU has chosen the latter option as it has the potential to be the most accessible to the people for a grassroots organization.  A friendlier disposition can automatically lead people to share common interests and goals which serve to further strengthen interethnic relationships.  While this approach arguably represents the easier choice, it would be a grave mistake to think that sustaining peace and cooperation is as hands-off as maintaining hatred and needless warfare.  Constant vigilance against the resurgence of these twin evils is always necessary so long as the drive to succeed can be corrupted.

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