Thursday, February 28, 2013


February 28, 2013

Human beings, across the globe, have a great tendency to immerse themselves in stereotyping others, based on preconceived thoughts and ideas that have been inculcated in their minds since birth. This, then, becomes the root of prejudice, discrimination, abuse, oppression, jealousy, and hatred.

Our species is one. We belong to the human race, as apart from insects, mammals, reptiles, etc. We possess specific characteristics and traits that are inherent in our "operating" system embedded within, and executing inside our hearts and minds. In reality, we are no different from an ordinary IBM lookalike Laptop or even a MacPro personal computer.

An operating system (OS) within any electronic gadget, be it a hand held mobile phone or a giant that fills up a whole floor space of he, is basically is a collection of software (coded instructions) that manages all the parts and actions of the entity in which it resides in. The OS is a vital component for all electronic systems to execute and could be considered as the "mind" that thinks and executes all the functions of the electronic device.

Similarly, the human mind (some folks may opt to give this responsibility to the heart, but I dont) does contain its own built in OS that comes into play once the foetus starts developing inside the mothers womb. Medics, Educationists, and Psychologists, may have differing opinions and views on the actual moment when the little worm inside Mummy starts to think and act for itself. However, the fact remains that at some point of time in the life cycle of a human being, be it in the womb or after birth, this OS has to trigger to initiate any possible response from the child. Some, may claim that the first cry that the baby delivers immediately after birth is the beginning of the functioning of the OS. Other may say that the OS already started functioning inside the womb when the baby starts kicking around in its watery world. There are those (my wife, who has a proud 50+ year career in child psychology and the Montessori method of teaching, included) who are of the view that the OS actually kicks off from the moment of conception.

An OS functions based on specific written rules that make it do what it does. A secretary may create a memo using Microsoft Word and send it to the  printer for a hard copy. The whole process from beginning to end is managed behind the scenes by the OS while the actual application (Microsoft Word in this case) carries on the task of providing the functionality of document creation, modification, formatting, editing, etc and also printing that is specific to its activity. Hence we could comfortably deduce that the OS is more like an efficient resource manager who sits at the back and makes sure that all of the resources available within a device, human or machine, are utilized effectively to derive the functionality of whatever application the device attempts to execute. That's the simplest form of explanation I can conjure up at 65+ and around 43 years of swimming in the deep end of the IT pool.

While this fabulous OS does its thing, behind the scenes, all of the applications that it supports to execute will also need to receive, analyze, decide upon and deliver, using acquired data or information from an external source. In technology jargon we refer to this as INPUT - PROCESSING - OUTPUT, and many of you would have also heard of the famous cliche that is stated over and over again by techies and even non techies, "Garbage in, Garbage out"?

What this entails is that you may buy the worlds most powerful processor and run the best possible application on it but if you feed it with rubbish then all you will get back is more rubbish.

Now this boils down to the simple and common sense fact that all these fancy tech and human devices are useless if you do not provide them with sensible data (or information).

That brings us back to the point of how we teach and raise human beings from conception to death. This whole process of this education, from the very first time Mr Sperm knocks on Ms Egg's door, inside Mummy's womb, and says "Excuse me Miss, may I please come in and conceive?", is the data (information) input that we choose to give and receive to/from our species, be it our own kids, our neighbors kids, or even our students, colleagues, peers, and even religious leaders, and mentors. 

So, when Muthu chooses to make a statement like, "All you bloody Sinhala Buddhist Effers are wicked and cruel people", it must stem from the information that has already been input into the Application (just like MSWord) within Muthu's OS that enables him to output such a rhetoric so loud and openly without batting an eyelid. Similarly, when GWB Junior, during his infamous reign in America, chose to say, "They hate our freedoms, either you are with us or with them", referring to the 2 billion Muslims on this planet, he did so based on whatever data (information) that was already fed into his Application. WMD's that were never there tells the same story, again for GWB, Tony Blair and the rest of the Mohiccans, who chose to go to war for no damn reason at all, knowing it fully well, themselves.

Thus, it is nothing unusual to see human beings output such statements and follow up actions based on what has already been input into their Applications and the poor OS has no choice but to deliver, whether it likes it or not.

In all my deliberations, thought processes, analysis, and meditation, in my 65+ years on this planet, I have in recent years started to question this OS and the way it manages the delivery of the data that has been input into all the Applications inside me since conception. It is only by this reasoning process, using basic common sense as the guiding factor, (which also stems from my own OS but was never nurtured before to do the same by me), that I have been able to come out of the box and even kick the bloody box it oblivion.

Each of  us, in my view, has this ability to do this for our own selves without even having to worry about what another achieved or did not achieve from it. Its got to be entirely a personal exercise that one executes for himself/herself and makes an analogical deduction using basic common sense, logic, reasoning, and humanity.

This does not mean that one has to abandon everything that one adheres to, on the ground today, and give up the present way of life to some new form of religion, culture, lifestyle, or even non belief. Its a matter of making common sense with oneself which, in my view, is like taking candy from a baby.

So, as a punch line to this story for this last day in February, all I can say is that we need to re look inside our data storage and try and clean up the garbage that went in before we can stop ourselves from delivering this garbage out, to the detriment of our own selves and the rest of the world.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Has religion failed Humanity?

Sunday Morning Sermon - Feb 24, 2013

Guys, Let’s face it. The world is in an absolute mess and nothing seems to be working. The reason religion is becoming more and more unpopular and is being replaced by materialistic systems like atheism, secularism and capitalism, is only because of the follies committed by the many, so called, religious people on the planet. 
The parish of the world’s religions can broadly be classified into two types: those who forward a distorted version of their religion, and those who aren’t doing anything to counter the distorted version that is being put forward. Both are just as bad. Religion has failed to tame its followers, atheism has provided a shield of arrogance to atheists, secularism has stripped the world of a moral foundation and capitalism has promoted greed.  
How can a Buddhist, Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Tao, Scientologist, or even any other believer of some faith or philosophy, claim that their belief is the righteous one without even trying to understand or study the other with an open mind? And when I say study, I don’t mean listening to your Pastor, Monk, Imam or Guru; I mean study the religion in depth, yourself.   
Believers need to understand the time in which they are living, and realize that their religion must be compatible with any time and any age, to be considered a credible and valid one. Just because these faiths were founded many thousands of years ago it does not necessarily mean that the tenets of the faith can’t be understood and also move with time. The texts may remain the same, but human understanding of these teachings have to conform to common sense and also the developments that have evolved in the time and age that we now live in. Believers need to become more diplomatic, and compassionate, while using rationalism and science to propound their message. They are so concerned about what other people are doing  they often neglect their own character and ego. In the pursuit of denouncing others - calling them names like ’kafir’ (non-believers, infidels etc) - people often end up renouncing their own faith by labeling people with names they have no right to. My advice to believers would be to rectify your own faults before worrying about others.
The monotheistic religions, call for the word of God to be spread. But when radical believers of one faith claim that their God is humanities only savior, and without believing in Him they can never be saved, then, the whole stability of humanity becomes affected. There are many who claim that ‘I can do what I want because my Holy Book says I’m going to Heaven anyway.’ It is this sort of hubris which is grossly off putting to those of other faiths. 
When I say religion has a problem, I don’t mean it in a literal sense. I mean the followers of the faith have problems; often quite profound and deeply psychological. The problem arises when the ‘followers’ use their religion as a tool to further their own selfish agendas. People often fight in the name of their religion when they don’t even understand the essence of their religion, and even worse, don’t understand the religion of those whom they are fighting. It’s an oxymoron, that is downright stupid.  
All religious believers need a more holistic and pluralistic understanding of their religion. We need to understand the essence of our own religions before trying to preach every intricate detail of its facets to others.The non- religious need to understand that religion is not based on ignorance but on the intellect and it is only the followers who use the former and not the latter.
We can still strive for Peace on Earth, One humanity, One World, if we only start thinking in a common sense manner.
May All Beings Be Happy!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Religio-Ethnic Persecution

Sunday Morning Sermon - Feb 17 2013

Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or ethnic affiliations or even the lack thereof.
The tendency of societies or groups within society to alienate or repress different subcultures is a recurrent theme in human history. Moreover, because a person's religion or ethnicity often determines, to a significant extent, his or her morality and personal identity, religious differences can be significant cultural factors.
Religious/Ethnic persecution may be triggered by bigotry (i.e. the denigration of the practitioners' religion/ethnic group, other than those of the oppressors) or by the State when it views a particular religious group or community as a threat to its interests or security. At a societal level, this dehumanization of a particular religious group may readily turn into violence or other forms of persecution. Indeed, in many countries, religio-ethnic persecution has resulted in so much violence that it is considered a massive human rights problem.
Persecution can be considered the opposite of the freedom. It may also affect atheists in that they may be denounced as being amoral or be persecuted by the religious on the grounds that they are godless.
Often it is the alleged persecution of individuals within a group - in the attempt to maintain their religious identity, or the exercise of power by an individual or organization - that causes members of a religious group to suffer. Persecution in this case may refer to confiscation or destruction of property, incitement to hate, arrest, imprisonment, beatings, torture, and execution.
Other acts of violence, such as wartorture, and ethnic cleansing not aimed at religion in particular, may nevertheless take on the qualities of religious persecution when one or more of the parties involved are characterized by religious homogeneity; an example being when conflicting populations that belong to different ethnic groups often also belong to different religions or denominations. The difference between religious and ethnic identity might sometimes be obscure; cases of genocide of the 20th century cannot be explained in full by citing religious differences.
No religion/community is free from internal dissent, although the degree of dissent that is tolerated within a particular religious organization can strongly vary.
The bottom line seems to stem from intolerance, jealousy, and an inability to accept and respect a people of differing cultures and beliefs. The root cause stems from the basic fact that most religious leaders do not teach their parish to be tolerant and kind to those of other faiths. This situation is a product of the "Us and Them" hype that even the US President GWB once announced when he spoke against Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden after the 911 saga.
The Nazi's, Crusaders, Zionists, Taleban, Al Qaeda, RSS, and many other religious persecutors, from ancient times and also in recent years, have sown much hatred, distress, and mayhem across the earth. The Crisis in Africa are too many to even think about. Their only grievance seems to be the inability to live with those who are different to their own ways. This is totally unacceptable by any standards and must be destroyed without any form of sympathy or consolations. Governments are responsible to ensure that such groups and activities are not allowed on their soil.
We surely need a new world order to manage our planet.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

65 Years Going Down the Tubes

Independence Day Sermon - Feb 4 2013

There must have been great celebration, firecrackers, and festivities by the Wawula wearing Veddah's, Lanket clad Lions, Panamkottai Ponnambalams, Leisure Suit Lansiya's, and Tip Cut Thambya's, when the Brit Colonial Administration handed over power to the sons of the soil on that fateful 4 of February, in 1948?

Taking over the reigns, with good old DS at the helm, all those Nobodies who evolved into Somebodies, from Banda, Madam, JR, Ranil, Premadasa, and the MahaRajah's, have taken this beautiful island of Paradise from the Kavun Hattiya straight into the smouldering Fire.

It was quite obvious that the Brits didn't want to linger any longer in Paradise after having handed over India back to her natives. They probably didnt see any value add in remaining in South Asia once India, the plum of the British East India Company, was gone.

What resulted after their exit, across South Asia, is total pandemonium, hate, violence, destruction, and anarchy. India broke into two pieces and then Pakistan racked up into two, once more. The Hindu-Muslim conflict still simmers beneath the apparent peace and calm that may seem to float on the surface. Poverty is still rampant and gang rape has become the order of the day. Bangla Desh sinks in the cesspool of flooding and misery.

Good old Ceylon, the Pearl of the Orient, has had its own share of capitalism, socialism, ethnic upheaval, riots, insurgencies, and terrorism, to complete the vicious cycle of so called independent growth and development. The tea industry, that was the pride of the nation, is virtually in shambles. Rubber and Coconut are virtually extinct from the pride of place they occupied by way of exports.

So what is there to celebrate after 65 effing years of screwing up?

Flag hoisting, speeches, cultural shows, and Kiribath, will certainly adorn the event, back home as well as across al the Sri Lankan missions overseas. People will gather together, all dressed up, and sing the anthem, in Sinhala only of course, with some kind of oppressed pride within their hearts and minds. Do they truly believe that the occasion needs to be celebrated in a climate of total abuse of power, lack of the rule of law, corruption galore, and hatred spewing from within the hallowed Halls of Government and Temples? 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Woman Haters

Sunday Morning Sermon Feb 3 2013

The damage inflicted on women by the many diverse patriarchal systems that have been in existence on this planet, and still prevails across the globe, is beyond any decent human imagination. The subjugation of women is a history of disavowal and hegemony manifested in the denial of their legitimate human rights and in their deprivation from infinite possibilities for advancement and self assertion.  The legal and social injustices that have plagued women throughout history, and still continue to deprive them of many basic rights today, are nothing but the manifestation of a the many prevailing belief systems that have been pushed down peoples throats and has been afflicting the minds of humanity for centuries.

The real cruelty incurred by the patriarchy lies not in its potential for coercion, nor in the weight of the restriction and prohibition imposed on women.  The real crime committed against women resides in the way the male-dominated system dispossess them from the right to define themselves and be independent. The reality on the ground is not just physical coercion but an intellectual holocaust.

It must be distressing for any human being to perceive themselves through the spectacles of a hater or a foe and this does not simply apply only to men. Nevertheless, it is much more difficult for women to discover themselves through the eyes of an abusive system that considers them as living beings who have to be dependent on man, bereft of volition and always punishable whenever the stability of the prevailing patriarchy is at stake.
When one looks at humanity from the outside, it becomes very clear that this de-personalization of women has originated, basically, from religion and culture, from within all societies.  It is also surprising to witness how this injustice could still persist and prevail, even in the 21 century, today. The chauvinist narrative has certainly gained a character of universality with few discrepancies in its oppressive nature using its religion as its basis of justification across cultures.
Individuals usually acquire an array of norms, values, patterns of behavior and lifestyles that frame their mind, through the process of socialization. People develop incrementally using the ways of their societies in order to exist and grow within a complex network of relationships, learning, and even brainwashing.. This situation may, generally, give the misleading impression that it is a process of a natural transmission totally immune from any kind of manipulation or oppression.
The dowry systems, very commonly seen among oriental groups, is a gross example of the diminished value that is put on a woman head, especially when she is to be married. Ownership of property and wealth is another. Inheritance also deprives many women of their rightful shares. Physical and sexual abuse are usually directed towards women much more than men. Unfair status and pay at work is another which is even prevalent in the so called "emancipated" western world.
The concept of “honor” (prevalent in many oriental societies) has been shaped primarily by patriarchal paradigms mostly by the teachings of Religions. In these conservative societies women are burdened by a strict code of conduct that oppresses their gender. Despite the fact that religions do try to lay great emphasis on virtue for both genders, the patriarchal system stubbornly considers virtue  as a female attribute par excellence while men can slip through the net of moral accountability in total impunity.  
The clamor to restrict women’s behavior stems for the idea that women are a “constant threat” that should be harnessed in order to sustain the system’s stability and durability.
In this regard, it is worth asking why is the patriarchal system on the defensive every time the advocacy of women’s full emancipation is made. What kind of threat do women pose for this male- dominated world?
For the patriarchal system, women’s intellectual awakening is as troubling as the return of a partner who claims their share of profits after a long absence. Any system founded on treachery and injustice must show concern dubbed with hostility towards claims of accountability. Thus, women’s presence in the public domain and their growing emancipation is a threat to conservative minds and a challenge to their sense of control and patronage.
The deconstruction of chauvinistic thought is by no means an attempt to antagonize men and women for they cannot possibly be made foes despite all the injustices incurred in the long course of patriarchal history. Despite the presence of evidence of oppression against women, hatred cannot and should not be the expected outcome of this discourse.
As long as the resentment of patriarchal hegemony is not a matter of wide consensus among women themselves, the only option left for enlightened women is to negotiate their existence again with their oppressor and indispensable partner. In their turmoil, these women become transient beings like butterfly larvae that have to undergo another metamorphosis before they become recognizable to themselves, and, before they can spring their colorful wings and fly up high into the sky.