This is written for Montage magazine.
The government is broke. And Basil is one more mouth to feed. The people are broke, or homeless in the North and East. In Burma a 500% petrol hike moved noble monks into the street, non-violently resisting troops that shoot automatic weapons into the crowds. As a fellow Buddhist nation we should be proud that they are waving our flags in the name of non-violence. The Rajapakse family (which controls over 75% of government money) has announced higher taxes on mobiles, cars, petrol and more. And 17.5% inflation (September CCPI) taxes everybody. We should be enraged at the taxes. We should be ashamed at our abandoment of our cultural heritage. Of peace.
Non-violence is a Buddhist value. Perhaps the greatest value that Therevada Buddhism preserves. Ahimsa is present in all the Indic strains â€“ Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism. Peace is also a great value in the modern Islam and Christianity that populates this resplendant isle. Despite visible corruption on the surface, of our monks and the knowledge they preserve are priceless. But a minority of our monks stage oxymoronic satygrahas for war.
The JHU has flipped the traditional peace sign upside down. Itâ€™s now just the hood ornament on their Mercedez Benz. Mahinda has made war a family business and had promotions for every hill captured and convoy sunk. And they have the nerve to wave the Buddhist flag over soldiers coffins and preach to the United Nations. War is eternal, as is suffering. Buddhism is about the way out of both.
Sri Lanka is not pursuing a negotiated settlement to the war. The Defence Secretary Gotabaya has called for a military solution to the war. The Peace Process is dead. The CFA is over. Nobody declares war anymore, but make no mistake. We are at war.
And it feels good. It feels good to hit the LTTE. They are tyrants on the level of the Burmese junta. However, to contain 10,000 cadres, we have displaced over 300,000 of our own citizens. Meaning they donâ€™t have homes. And please stop and think about that. You have a toilet youâ€™re comfortable with a gate you can lock. Your children are safe. 300,000+ of our fellow citizens do not have that basic right.
Our government has signed the Cease Fire Agreement and they are â€“ on paper â€“ committed to a negotiated settlement. Until they tear up the CFA and fight an honest war, they are taking life and being deceptive. Not very Buddhist at all. Especially when the wages of Death is so much
The government is broke. Inflation is at 17.5% this month. Meaning your money will buy less food for your family next month. The Rajapakse Brothers Circus is reaching for the HSBC credit card, regardless of the high interest rate. Because credit cards donâ€™t ask any questions, and there are so many Rajapakse mouths to feed. Theyâ€™re after the peopleâ€™s money as well.
There are new taxes on phone calls, wheat, cars and more. The cops are out in the street, levying traffic fines. Dirty cops are complicit in kidnappings for ransom, according to their own boss Perera. This government is broke and theyâ€™re looking into your pockets. The Rajapakse brothers will try set up private shell airlines and banks, MIG jets to shoot flying bullock carts, try to sell SLT – anything for Bandaranaike money. And thatâ€™s just the proven stuff. The tsunami corruption investigation was closed by Mahinda and the LTTE bribery scandal was watered down by a Parliament on the take. This government is bloated, broke, occupied by a parasitic family of Rajapakses.
They have abandoned the peace process. They have looted the economy. But they cannot take away the beauty and wonder of Sri Lanka, and the latent integrity of our culture. Just take a trip out of Colombo and youâ€™ll fall in love with this country all over again â€“ brain drain be damned. Trinco still has fantastic seafood and stunning beaches. The war is temporary and this country still belongs to all of us. We are still a great country, with great cultural values. We are greater than the sum of our politicians. If only we had courage of our Burmese friends.