Flyer for the ongoing meditation for a peaceful election
I spoke to Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne at Sarvodaya and they’re very concerned about election violence. Not who wins, but there is a fear that the bitterness and personal acrimony of this campaign will spill into the streets. Indeed, people have already been killed, on both sides. This is an election where both sides have a lot to lose, but people need not lose their lives.
To that end Sarvodaya and my friend Raghavan (Ragi) Kadirgamar are organizing islandwide mediations for a peaceful election. I try to practice mediation personally, but it also has the power to change societies. The Buddha is the most obvious example, but non-violent movements like Gandhi’s or Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne’s through Sarvodaya are founded by people that meditate.
Do I think that meditation can prevent election violence? Well, no, not directly. But I do think it is something positive that people can do for themselves and their immediate interactions. That is, I tend to be nicer when I meditate and cause less angry ripples in the world, especially in traffic. Doing this publicly also shows that there is another way besides the cycle of mudslinging, revenge and retribution that seems the norm.
Everything To Lose
The status quo is really quite scary. We have a politics where politicians are often killed, leading to the strongest and most ruthless rising to the top. Mahinda and Sarath are both warriors, in their own ways. Since Sarath used to work for Mahinda and then turned, this is also personal. SF has a serious vendetta against Mahinda for sidelining him, and reserves a special vitriol for Gotabaya Rajapaksa. On their side, the Rajapaksas hate Sarath for turning against them, and for looking like he could actually win.
Which is, really, the point. Whoever wins does not look inclined to be kind to the losers. Honestly, I think Mahinda would probably be more conciliatory, and I think he even offered to give Sarath a job. Sarath, however, can’t really go back to America after this with the war crimes stuff still in the air. It would also suck to be here after losing.
For Mahinda losing is probably more terrifying. For Gotabaya it would be the worst. Sarath hates Gota personally and would probably make living in this country difficult for him. Gota even more than Sarath has legal problems going to the states and would likely be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
For all the people around Mahinda, also, it is a terrifying loss. Catchers like Mervyn Silva and the jumbo cabinet would lose their jobs. All the incompetent, family nominees to places like Mihin Lanka and Sri Lankan Airlines would probably lose their jobs, and the family who occupy government jobs is now in the hundreds. This doesn’t include cronies and friends. There are literally thousands of people who would take a bread and butter hit if their man loses. So they’re understandably agitated.
This is the climate and perhaps the cause of ongoing violence. This existential tension has to be stepped down or any little thing will set it off. At some level it has to be stepped down. Mediation is a start.
There are mediations ongoing islandwide daily now, the recommended times are 6-7 am, 12-1 pm and 7-8 pm. The final, big mediation will be at Vihara Maha Devi Park on January 24th from 3-5 pm. There’s more information at the Sarvodaya site or you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.