Sarath Fonseka said that the Army executed surrendering LTTE leaders. This is probably true and most people know it’s probably true, but there’s a huge fuss because he said it out loud. We like the end of war so we deny its brutal means. I understand, but at some point this just becomes pathological. Sarath Fonseka may be a bad politician, but I’m more worried about being a bad human being.
Truth is really the most basic compassion you can extend to another human being. To acknowledge that they exist, or don’t. The dominant narrative of the war basically writes a bunch of people out of history and denies their reality. The story is that it was a hostage rescue, shells weren’t used in the safe-zone, no one was executed, etc. This is all bullshit and we probably wouldn’t have won that way, but we need to pretend.
That is OK I guess, it’s basically textbook cognitive dissonance. That’s a psychological phenomenon whereby people rationalize or deny to fit two contradictory thoughts into their heads. For example A) I like knowing my kids get to school safe B) I don’t like Wanni kids losing their legs.
I think most people resolve this contradiction by ignoring B entirely. If someone points it out then we debate about technical details (was the video real? did he violate the State Secrets Act) until the underlying issue goes away. I understand and I personally explain away a lot of horrible shit because, but a man has limits.
Sarath Fonseka may have betrayed Gotabaya and our consensual hallucination, but I believe that lying betrays God (for lack of a better word). Whatever mental gymnastics I can execute in my head, whatever synchronized bullshitting we can do collectively, I do believe in objective reality. I do believe in right and wrong, and that we do wrong. I also believe that we can salvage our humanity by at least being aware, and by trying to tell the truth.
We did a bunch of terrible stuff to end the war. I’m pretty sure we shelled civilians, executed and abducted people, killed people trying to surrender, and neglected the sick and wounded. It may not have been possible to win the war otherwise, I don’t know. However, if we’re going to accept the end of war we can at least acknowledge the bloody means.
Instead we don’t talk about it at all and assault anyone saying the truth as a traitor. Even if they’re a former General. As if the nation is a consensual hallucination, built on lies. It’s a bit disturbing. Not for what it says about the General, but for what it says about us.
There’s another (entirely different) version of this running in this week’s Sunday Leader.