We are on our own

I’m early to work, because the roads are mostly empty. That’s not because of an extended holiday season. No, that finished last week. People are trying to stay home because of the Easter Sunday Attacks—they are uncertain where to go from here.

As I type these words away, I’m but a walking distance away from Mahawela Gardens, where one gruesome episode of Sunday’s events took place. I also hear stories in the background about colleagues who have lost family members. I think back to Sunday, as it unfolded, I remember holding my baby tightly in my arms while my mind kept repeatedly asking for his forgiveness for the world that we have created for his generation.

There’s no point of leaving yet another anecdote of the terror that took the lives of at least 310 people (including both Sri Lankans and friends of Sri Lanka) and left twice as many injured. They attacked places of worship, they attacked hotels. Even before anything came to light, most of the Sri Lankans knew what it was—terrorism. They knew it because they have experienced it before, and in less than a decade it had come to haunt them again—perhaps with a new face and a carrier—yet, terrorism.


We don’t know where to go from here. People are hurt, they are asking why, where did this hate come from, whom does it serve—all serious questions. And our leaders, our political leaders…

I don’t need to repeat what’s been said and done by our politicians. They have provided ample evidence that they don’t have the country’s best interest. One of the most painfully obvious disillusionments came towards the end of last year when political factions enacted a political drama—the blatant lie that they called public service.

When Christchurch happened merely a month ago, we saw how Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern held her nation in a gentle embrace, whispering words of comfort into their ears.

What we have instead is a bunch of politicians bickering as to whom should accept more blame, shamelessly claiming knowledge of prior-warning—trying to wipe their hands clean. We have leaders callously smirking in press conferences while a country mourn. We have leaders disgustingly trying to capitalize on this tragedy. We have leaders acknowledging there were prior-warnings, but they didn’t think this would come to pass. I can go on, but you already know this. Sri Lanka has come so far in spite of politicians, not because of them.

Extreme fundamentalist indoctrination—especially to the point where they would commit suicide bombing—does not happen over night. Even after finding a huge cache of explosives and terror intent, Sri Lanka wasn’t ready—the attacks came as a shock. To the general public, that is. The politicians from both sides of the aisle, had been warned and had stayed away.

As we trek the treacherous terrains of terrorism, let us not forget that we are alone, together as one people of Sri Lanka. Just as we couldn’t rely on our politicians for other things like transportation and electricity—we can’t rely on them to heal this situation with the gravity and aptitude it needs. Most of the world has already delivered their condolences and moved on. All Sri Lankans are in this together—hopefully not entirely alone.

Racist sentiments are flowing again, and in the hurt and pain, the crowds may not see nuances—such as that an entire ethnicity or a religious group isn’t accountable for the ill deeds of a few. Fortunately, at least some people have learned lessons from the past—such as the Black July. Just as an entire religious group isn’t accountable for the acts of a few terrorists, let us remember that an entire country should not be complicit in the acts of a few racists.

Remember the names and faces of all the politicians who have failed us—you know what to do when you get to cast your votes. Just as you help to quell the flames of extremism, help protect the communities—all the communities. Stay vigilant. Because we, my friend, are on our own—let us keep each other safe.

 
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