It will be near impossible without some ideology to navigate society in its socio-cultural, economic and political directions as it meanders historically on its way forward. Devoid of such dynamics from within, only a static status quo will prevail rendering a people or a nation to stagnate without ideals, hopes and aspirations. Yet, on the other side, various forms of extremism with their radical and uncompromising ideologies, not only spell disaster but in reality, plunge countries into disorder and chaos disrupting the life of the people.
Most chaotic situations happening in some parts of the world are proof of this type of social unrest and indeed, in some cases, national tragedies. Such ideologies may be rooted in the way race, language, religion, social class or ethnicity are pursued by those who unleash these destructive forces which to wise minds prove to be shallow and short-sighted.
Extremisms lead to Chaos
In a democratic country, diversity and plurality, freedom of expression, the right to information, the freedom to discuss and exchange views in a spirit of intellectual honesty and dialogue are the standard means of social interaction. These are sacred features that embellish life in a society. But extremism that makes a person go beyond rational limitations destroying all logically justifiable conclusions and perceptions tend to create an unhealthy and unbalanced social structure that can disrupt a valid form of culture and ethnic identity which are essential for healthy, useful and fruitful human and social interaction. Extremisms of any kind are the bane of integration, unity and communion in solidarity. One must have the ability to accommodate all shades of opinion without opening doors for friction and misunderstanding that destroy mutual trust and confidence among concerned parties degenerating into rival factions.
"Many of the recent events that have overtaken certain countries are a living proof of how extreme ideologies can invite disaster and destruction bringing in their train untold human suffering"
There are many countries in our five global continents that manifest diversity of racial, language, cultural and political affiliations yet are able to integrate them into a wider mosaic of unity and accommodation without exacerbating such societies into rifts, clashes and chaos. On the other hand, the radical tendency to assert one’s identity to the detriment of others being displaced, jettisoned, thwarted and despised falls clearly short of the modern multi-cultural, multi-religious and socially variegated kind of human environment that we are called to live in and co-exist. The culture that warrants integration and reconciliation today is the language of accommodation, tolerance and specially, dialogue at different levels. If the scattered picture of man can be assembled together, the world he lives in will automatically fall into place, If he is in disarray, his society and the civilization too, will be disjointed and much time and energy wasted in reconciling such a globally distorted picture into a united whole.
Many of the recent events that have overtaken certain countries are a living proof of how extreme ideologies can invite disaster and destruction bringing in their train untold human suffering. Often it paves the way to international tensions that breed fear, anxiety and insecurity on a global scale while locally weakening, disrupting and turning chaotic the society or country concerned. The recent problem that disrupted the never-ending flow of migrants along the Mexican border into the USA gave a sad picture of apparent racism in a country that has always stood for the American dream that welcomes people of all hues, ethnicities and nationalities into her borders. There has been the Hutsi-Tutsi class war in Rwanda that led to mass killings and genocide. Spain too has experienced ethnic uprisings that sought territorial independence and self-rule for its southern Basque community.
"Though winning elections in democratic ways, political parties have failed the people and have brought the country to the brink of disaster"
So is the on-going clash in southern Philippines in the region of Mindanao based on religion. Thailand too has had such a sad experience with its escalating ethno-religious conflict even as Bangladesh battles with its religious tensions. All these are pressing instances of conflicts based on race, ethnicity and religion. On the contrary, countries and nations like Switzerland which is home to Italian, French and German-speaking citizens have learnt to live in unity and harmony sticking on to a common Swiss identity. Singapore too with its racially different citizens who are either Tamil-speaking, Malay or Chinese live and work together as Singaporeans. The example of Canada that once tried to go the way of separation between French and English-speaking Canadians, finally gave up those attempts in the interest of national unity, thus keeping the whole of western and central Canada one with the eastern Quebec province. All these countries are in the world map industrially rich, technologically creative and financially strong nations with viable economies and stable currencies.
Sri Lanka needs a way out of contradictions and travesty
Our dear Motherland, the Pearl of the Indies, Sri Lanka has had a litany of problems and woes when it comes to integrating our races, religions, ethnicities and languages. This knotty issue has been the bane of this beautiful country, whose beauty has been marred and scarred with so many wounds. Although national independence from centuries of colonial rule under Portuguese, Dutch and Britain brought to Taprobane wide open vistas of prosperity and progress, the events of the last seven decades have proved the contrary with a plethora of political ideologies greedy and contending for power. Even the ordinary civil population has been duped into destructive politics based on race and religion with political parties too similarly allied. Politics and party systems based on race and religion inevitably leads to disaster and can conflagrate into long- drawn civil wars that can brutalize a whole people.
Though winning elections in democratic ways, political parties have failed the people and have brought the country to the brink of disaster. Today we have an utterly disunited country on ethnic grounds with racial and religious extremism fueling ill-will and divisiveness, a staggering economy heavily laden with national and international debt with foreign reserves at a record low, at the mercy of global financial institutions for aid and loans of all kinds, territorial integrity and national security at risk and growing signs of religious/racial extremism that truly spell disaster. There is still pressure to negotiate our assets and the issue of war crimes and human rights are a perpetual nightmare. The country and its leaders have apparently not understood the tragedy of a 30-year ethnic war that was by nature fratricidal, alienating the people; a veritable catastrophe, a worst tragedy and calamity ever since the colonial invasions. The ethnic war may have been won, but the battle for national reconciliation and integration of communities buttressing one Sri Lankan nation, continues to be elusive.
Yet, there is room for a change of attitudes and grow in the right spirit of patriotism and genuine nationalism that stir us to love the country with all its rich resources, whether natural or human, cultural or religious. There is sophisticated modern technology to be utilized, great and beautiful cultural traditions which could keep Sri Lankan society healthy and politics to be redeemed from lies, dishonesty, rhetoric and the greed for power. Democratic processes such as elections, devolution of power, eradication of waste, bribery and corruption in the seats of power and a mature political awareness that enables citizens to make wise decisions through correct information and education are some of the urgent measures to be taken for reviving and revitalizing the country. The contradictions that bring disorder into civil life and make a travesty of democracy in all its forms are to be checked out and remedied so that we can achieve once again the pristine glory of the serendipitous island-nation it once was, and count ourselves a people of rightful pride and honour among our Asian neighbours.