So I went down to the demonstration, to get my fair share of abuse. I, however, left before the hardline monks stormed the stage and things became violent. And that’s a funny sentence. In regards to the intent of the march, I do support people sitting down and thinking about how to win rather than mindlessly bombing. Not that I support their whole platform at all. I think, as Blacker says, that military solutions can work in parallel with other solutions, but at least those marchers are advocating ‘other’ solutions. What I don’t support is mindlessly reacting to whatever the LTTE does. That’s not achieving any of your objectives, you’re just letting your enemy control the situation. They know how we’re going to react and they can play our reactionary elements to achieve their goals. Sinhala nationalists claim right, but their emotional, knee-jerk reactions lead us into the abyss. We need to take a step back, think, and then act.
I dunno what the platform of the marchers was, exactly, but the front was lead by Christian, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu clergy. They were followed by National Anti War Front, Estate Workers, some MPs (UNP I think). Vasu (the former mayoral candidate) and I think the whole thing was organized by someone Rupasinghe. It was, however, broken up at the end when extremist monks from a JHU faction stormed the stage, tried to take over and violence broke out. Which is a fitting end in the way. The greatest threat to Sri Lankans and the Sri Lankan state has never come from outside, it has always been the extremists in our midst (like the formerly terrorist JVP) who wave the flag the highest while offending and killing every color on it.
The Hard Way Out
I also think the march, and the difficulties it encountered, point to the fact that peace – far from being appeasement – is the hard and courageous path. People think violence is a great reaction, that it is strong, but it is, IMHO, weakness. Being violent is easy. Letting your emotions guide you is easy. There’s no courage there. Animals do it everyday, that’s just status quo. What takes courage is stepping back from your emotion, resisting your natural urges and actually thinking. That is strength. I define strength as doing something difficult, and letting your blood boil and raising your hand or calling reactionary airstrikes doesn’t count. What’s hard is plotting a strategy to defeat a terrorist threat while simultaneously maintaining and even expanding an inclusive state, now that’s hard.
There should be some photos on my Flickr stream, I’ll try to tag them later.