There was a broken-up protest outside the BBS headquarters yesterday, a racist, divisive group which seems to have police, military and government approval. I’m proud of the people that went and feel like a fool for actually forgetting. By the time I got calls they’d already broken the protest up.
When I finally swung by it was just monks (people in robes, more accurately) and security forces. A friend had called earlier and said they were arresting people for showing up. The BBS is a group that’s said the country is for Sinhala Buddhists only and has been calling for shutting down Muslim businesses and restricting their way of life, especially halal food. Just this morning I got an SMS that a newspaper had been attacked in Jaffna. Things are going bad.
During the war you could somehow understand the hate and violence and anger as something spun out of control, something exacerbated by terrorism into a form that didn’t represent us. But now, as the government is proud of saying, terrorism is gone. So what is this? Where does this hate and anger come from if not from us?
I always try to see the bright side of things, of this country, not cause I think that’s the most likely outcome but cause the future is still unwritten. Cause we can still change it, so may as well look forward with hope, and hope that the way we imagine things can change what’s to come.
Lately, however, I feel quite sad. We’re not at war anymore but people are still angry. And that ignorance and hatred and fear is spearheaded by people wearing robes, people who should be meditating and acting mindfully and practicing right speech and compassion. The monks in the BBS are often little less than thugs in orange. Their leader was documented as getting a drunk driving charge and blackguarding police officers, just has he practices vile and angry speech against minorities now.
Yet when I ask trishaw drivers in my neighborhood what they think of BBS, they say it’s good. It’s a sample of like three, but still.
I like to thing that we’re a young country. That things like the riots and discrimination against Tamils were worst in the past and are fading now. That we’re more enlightened, that politicians riled this stuff up, that it’s not who we are. But then why are we doing this now? Why are groups like the BBS riling up ethnic tensions and division, and why is the government supporting them? And where is the opposition? And where are the good minded people who don’t want war or hatred or any of this nonsense, but to get on with their lives?
I love this country and I’m looking forward to the New Year. It’s just that right now, I feel like things are going bad.
Halik was there, read his blog for more.