Holding Out For a Hero
Well it’s not exactly a hero.Â What we are really holding out for is a statesman – but that wouldn’t have made a catchy title.Â Yet it is a statesman that is needed in Sri Lanka at this juncture in its history.Â Â Having finally made it over the daunting hurdle of terrorism, which had us mired in a mud heap for so many decades, Sri Lanka is now emerging, scarred but optimistic, out of the wasteland of war.Â As flags fly in a uniting show of joy – a vast majority of people look forward with hope to a new dawn – a new country and another chance to catch up with the economic success of the nations around us.
To reach this destination we need to step on the right road – for there are many roads leading in diverse directions and it is easy to get lost once again.Â Â To find the right path and keep us on track we need a leader who is capable of rising above the fray, in order to meet the gargantuan task that lies ahead of this nation.Â Mahinda Rajapakse’s victory speech in Parliament indicates that he is aware of what is required to put us on the road to a pretty future.Â But words are hollow if not followed by deeds.
“Those who love the country and those who do not” – are now apparently the only two groups that exist in this country.Â A wonderful statement – but one that should not be used to stifle dissent – whether the dissent originates from the opposition political parties, or from the media, or even from disgruntled but innocent members of the minority community.Â A statesman should be capable of cleverly deflecting the balls of negativity pitched at him – without losing his cool – or his opponents losing their lives.Â A statesman should also be able to discern the difference between the empty rhetoric of his distracters, and the constructive criticism of those who do love this country – but who have a different opinion to that of our leaders.
A statesman should not permit violence against foreign embassies in our country – even if the violence is only aimed at the walls of these embassies.Â A statesman does not stoop as low as the posturing, two-faced behemoth that is known as the “International Community”.Â A statesman wins them over with actions that indicate that we are a step above – that we abide by the tenets of peace and tolerance that is the basis of Buddhism.
When I try to think of world statesmen – very few come to mind – but the one’s who do are Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.Â These are men who stood for lofty goals – who dreamt big dreams – the noble Gullivers who strode amongst us Lilliputians.Â These are men who stood for equality, peace and non-violence – whose achievements we all like to emulate, but which many of us don’t have the will to attempt.Â It is easier to give into greed, to give into power, to give into long festering preconceptions.Â But what made these men stand out is that they put their nations before themselves – despite the many physical and mental hardships they underwent, and the loud opposition they faced.
So Mr. Rajapakse – this is your moment.Â You have the approval of the majority of this nation. You, at this point in history can do no wrong – and as such you have the ability to do so much that is right.Â You have the opportunity to steer Sri Lanka away from racial distrust, to rise above petty politics. You alone, with the support of your lieutenants in Parliament and within the armed forces, can prove to the world that Sri Lanka is capable of moving beyond its dark past, to a society that is truly accepting of its racial diversity.Â It’s a tough call.Â As I pointed out – in history there are very few who were capable of transforming themselves into statesmen.Â Yet there were those who did – and their stories will never die.
Even within our history we fete King Dutugemmunu.Â He too united this country after winning his battle against Elara.Â But what we remember most about him was his respectful treatment of his slain enemy – and THAT is a true sign of a statesman.