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Perilous fear-mongering invades schools


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If we encourage children to start challenging bias in themselves and others, we can build a better, more inclusive and equitable Sri Lanka and a meaningful future for our future generation – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara

 

“It may be important to great thinkers to examine the world, to explain and despise it. But I think it is only important to love the world, not to despise it, not for us to hate each other, but to be able to regard the world and ourselves and all beings with love, admiration and respect.” ― Hermann Hesse, from his classical novel ‘Siddhartha,’ which has delighted, inspired and influenced generations of leaders, writers and thinkers

The political mafia in Sri Lanka have tried everything evil – manipulating one ethnic community against another to create an upheaval – deviously manipulating the destruction of the revered Buddhist statues – in the hope that it will create a backlash against the Muslim community by the majority Sinhala Buddhists. 

Another major plot nurturing, patronising and supporting extremist organisations to stage a devilish massacre in a Catholic Church in the hope that another backlash against the Muslim community will be unleashed. 

By unchained violence against the Muslim community in various areas and locations, destroying their businesses, their sources of income and unleashed a spectrum of insults and abuses against men, women and children – again in the hope that the Muslim community will retaliate and make a counter attack.

Unfortunately these Mephistophelean characters with their cunning, ingenuity and devilish wickedness could not achieve their dark sinister aims – Neither the majority Buddhists and the Catholic community nor the Muslim community reacted in any form of violence expected by these evil political shenanigans, with their deceptive tricks and reckless malicious behaviour. 

That has caused them frustration; and it was indeed thwarting – Preventing realisation and attainment of their ominous, disastrous, disgusting and highly-offensive aims. Hence, they have embarked on another course of diabolical wickedness – They have now ventured on an attack against innocent young minds and little children in schools.

A wave of abuse and insults have been triggered through their malicious, venomous and vicious supporters, henchmen and  partners in crime and their families – The parents are pressurising their children to vent their unfettered hate-filled rhetoric against Muslim children in schools.  

As hateful speech becomes more common, more children are parroting what they hear from their parents.

Teachers were found checking bags of innocent little children and asking them whether they have brought a bomb in their bag – and a host of other unmentionable insults, abuses and revilements, making the children wince and cringe in pain with horror and shock. 

The evil tentacles of the political Monster Hydra has pervaded the educational system and has begun emitting its deadly toxins from its many mouths. What we can see in all this is, that the racists are targeting the next generation. We cannot stand idly by or our nation will be worse off for the next generation.

So when school children are manipulated to promote hatred, they are leaning on the devilish side of fear and using it to incite political chaos. That is clearly the mission of the despotic, megalomaniacal, subverted and profligate politicians.

Everyday acts of intolerance manifest themselves in many ways: name-calling, slurs, harassment, casual putdowns and crushing remarks regarding race, ethnicity, gender, size, abilities, perceived sexual orientation or gender identification. 

The bias might come in the form of clothing—certain colours or styles or symbols associated with hate groups exposing young people to dehumanising invectives on a daily basis. And, of course, there’s the casual bigotry found in various forms. They are waging a campaign of fear.

The rise in activities from politically-motivated hate groups in the past few years have coincided with the increasingly divisive nature of our national discourse. 

They have tried — and in some cases succeeded — to take advantage of the extreme partisanship to spread their extreme views in all manner of ways. 

They have exploited religion and their clergy, falsely equated and likened their violations for the protection and security of their religion and country.

We have been witnessing hubris, arrogance and high-handedness; dishonesty, enmity, indolence and wrath in every debauched politician promoting insane conspiracy against their own people with the aim of destablising and endangering financial security, and promoting indecency – advertently negative and evil, in a deliberate manner, which can cause people to abandon rational thinking, to create hysteria and panic. 

This is bigotry at its extreme – Bigotry is prejudice and the state of being intolerant. Bigotry is disliking people because of their culture, creed, belief and community; and we the people of Sri Lanka cannot remain silent in the face of bigotry.

The time has now come to ask – Where are those aggressive political parties who protest and create disturbance at anything and everything along the public highways, roads, sidewalks, parks and streets causing so much inconvenience? Where are the violent disruptive political demonstrations so much desired by the JVP, the veteran activists? Where are their vociferous and aggressive protests and demonstrations against injustice? And what have they done to prevent and restrain these predators and vultures who are causing so much distress and extreme psychological suffering to school-going children?

It is not surprising to see the obvious – the glaring hypocrisy of JVP, and all other political parties, in general. Their viciousness and their inclination to those powers who are orchestrating these devilish offensives against communities are now legendary. There is nothing you can expect from people, parties or organisations who do not possess any character or discipline.

We the people of Sri Lanka must stand together and coerce the Government to instil in all law enforcement agencies to take severe, deterrent action against this rising hatred and bigotry. The teachers, who are deemed to be the guiding light of our future generation, have to be involved. With the help and support of students they must initiate action to eradicate and exterminate this menace created by the degenerate power-crazed, mentally-deranged and vicious politicians. 

Our goal must be centred on building an understanding and appreciation for people with different backgrounds. Our curriculum focuses on the importance and dimensions of identity and cultural identity, developing the capacity to recognise bias, and learning ways to challenge bias when faced with it. 

We need to continue to provide more anti-bias education to more schools. If we do, we will have more upstanding students.

Given the violence we’ve seen over the past few years targeting people because of who they are, the good news is, we can see that there is a real appetite by the majority of the people of this country, for having more conversations about how to reduce bias and bigotry. 

All over the country people are fighting hate, standing up to promote tolerance and inclusion. More often than not, when hate flares up, good people rise up against it — often in greater numbers and with stronger voices.

School and community leaders should provide space and support them. If we encourage children to start challenging bias in themselves and others, we can build a better, more inclusive and equitable Sri Lanka and a meaningful future for our future generation.

Winding up with these meaningful words from Nigerian legal practitioner Godwin Ogbonna: “The legislature should come up with a law prescribing punishment for anyone involved in hate speech in the country. If people know that there is a law stipulating sanctions for hate speech, it will deter politicians from engaging in it. We also need to involve traditional rulers and religious leaders in the campaign. The religious and traditional leaders can admonish and caution their followers on the ills of hate speech.”

(The writer counts over 50 years in the insurance industry and is an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute (London) and also holds the title of Chartered Insurance Practitioner; as well as an Associate of the Insurance Institute of India. He can be reached via email at zul523@sltnet.lk.)

 


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