The good and bad in us

Now while we are battling out our own differences as Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and also in a more religious context, we are one when we leave the country. We are Sri Lankan, and have to deal with a lot of people thinking we are Indian. This is one of the few times I’ve faced racism in such an obvious way.

I was in Thailand and we were on this large wooden platform of a sort. My father, brother and I were going para-sailing. So there were all these fishermen looking people, tattooed and quite scary to look at. When we were standing there they didn’t even smile at us, and one said, “namaste” or something like that.

Then my father explained we were not Indian, but Sri Lankan, and suddenly, their hostile attitude was gone. They turned out to be amazing people and even wanted to know a few words in Sinhalese. Then my father and brother sailed off before me and I was quite scared. There were all these men, but they made sure I was safe and one of them even made sure I was properly strapped up and whatnot.

This is something I did talk about in a comment, but I’ll say it again.
Something my editor/boss always tells me is that there are no good people. Or bad people. There are just people.
Its the situations people are put in that make them to bag things or good things. So when they were rude to us, they weren’t being evil. And when they were nice to us, they weren’t being good. They were just being human.

Bringing this back in to Sri Lanka, some people hate. Some love. They weren’t born like this. Something somewhere made them that way. And they let that take over their life for some reason. When one man wanted a bit of land of an anyway small island, it soon became a Sinhala-Tamil thing. Recent events have led to Buddhist-Muslim ‘wars.’  This shouldn’t be so. Its not our Buddhistness or Muslimness that makes us good people, or bad people.

This is an article that was written by the Nation’s editor. It seems like a good way to end this post.

http://www.nation.lk/edition/columns/malinda-seneviratne/item/16944-the-muslim-in-me.html

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5 thoughts on “The good and bad in us”

  1. Hey Shailee,I'm gonna start off by saying, I see exactly what you mean. Your boss is right when he says that we can't paint the world and its people in black and white, similar to what my 8th Grade headmaster said once. Although he had some heavier issues with racism I remember, once in Germany as he told us. People had wondered how he had known about Bach when he told them he was Sri Lankan, albeit of course it was many years ago.Furthermore, this issue about Sri Lanka being a "Sinhalese Buddhist" nation came about centuries ago actually, when it saw itself as the sole protector of Theravada Buddhism. That's when the Sinhala race became greedy pigs and wanted the whole place to themselves.And BTW, your whole thing about us being mistaken for Indians is pretty odd….does that happen a lot?

  2. This lady I know, she comes from a very Dutch family. That is they are more Dutch that Sri Lankan. We were discussing all these issues and she said something like, "I was raised a Catholic and yet I accept that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese Buddhist country." She went on to say that, the 'minorities' must accept that truth as bitter as it may be and that Buddhists too shouldn't try to own the country. It has become a political issue. And as you say, greed plays a huge part. Which is something the Buddha has spoken about at great lengths.And yes, Vasika, many assume we are Indian. This is worse for me because of my name. In general though, many take our dark skin and black hair as a Indian thing. With the attention the country is getting though, I think people will stop assuming we are Indian.

  3. Well, the fact that the Bodhu Bala Senaga is active means that these "Buddhists" are indeed attempting to own the country and trying to make themselves the majority, so your associate is very correct. Saying that this is a "Sinhala Buddhist" country is like saying that…well, I don't really have a hypothetical example to give you here, it's just too weird. This is NOT a Sinhala Buddhist country, there's no such thing as that. In fact, these "Sinhala Buddhists" are going totally against the Buddha and his teachings of tolerance. Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist country, but they don't own the whole place.

  4. It's like this. When my father used to live with us, he was the only Christian. Four Buddhists made him a sad minority. So Vesak was a big deal, he wasn't allowed to bring beef and pork into the house (once my mother stopped eating it) and he understood all of this. So in the Buddhist majority of our house, everything was very Buddhist…But, we decorated the house and still do, for Christmas, went for dinners and lunches. Even had Easter lunch at our place ones. We still have two prayer books at home.So Amma made sure our house was more Buddhist-ey and that we were brought up with those values, but she also made sure Thathee's beliefs were able to exist too. And sure, she would have never allowed Thathee to take us to church, but these two religions coexisted.This is how it should be in this country too. Problem is that we are such a small nation, and there are so many cultures, religions and what not

  5. That's really nice, I mean it's different from the regular setup where the children only have one religion, but here there's all-out harmony. Reminds me of one of my friends in school. In his case, his father's Buddhist, mother's Christian, and he's Buddhist, but he himself I think goes to church at times, although not particularly religious on either side. But then, making the excuse that we are a small nation, overstuffed with people, is just dumb, because remember, there are still small, isolated corners of the world where there is a tribal outlook and there's people coexisting there, like for example, the area of Papua New Guinea. It's an island, not exactly really big, and there's literally hundreds of languages and religions and racial groups there.

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