What are you dying for?
You may question if it’s worth creating a commotion about the single death of a promising young life when hundreds more are dying due to the effects of the three decade long war that has plagued the nation? I believe it’s worth every word of it as identifying and advocating for a solution to a potential problem is the key to the actual solution of the problem itself.
Sri Lanka has slowly but surely evolved a gun culture of its own. This adversarial trend is making it more and more apparent that a local version of a Columbine High School type shooting is not too far away. So what are the reasons behind this sudden phenomenon? How did it start and when will it end? I don’t have the answers for all these questions, but I would try to shed some light on the issue to the best of my ability.
“Youth” by nature have been gifted with abundance of energy which should be effectively dispersed in order to attain social stability. The country’s development lies on the strong shoulders of this element of society as does the countries downfall. This makes it important to empower the youth with correct resources and tools to foster their energy into channels which could yield benefits for all stake holders of a society.
The extra zap that the youth possess may sometimes yield rash non-forward thinking decisions. Turning to weapons instead of resorting to dialogue is indeed a direct byproduct of that rash approach. The rashness and energy that youth posses is compounded by the more patient slower approach ordained by the elders in a society. The experience that the Oldies bring creates a perfect blend between innovation and experience to propel a society in its forward course. Absence of either may spiral the country into its down fall.
Sri Lanka today is struggling to find that balance in society. It is indeed a shame that I have never had the privilege of enjoying the freedom of a unified country from the time I was born into this world. The three decade old war has plagued the nation with suffering and continues its destructive trend throughout. What worries me is that the war has been converted into a lucrative business which those dreaming for political power utilize to cover their shady deals and achieve their ulterior motives.
Ironically, the Sri Lankan army today has gained popularity among the rural masses as the biggest recruiting agency functioning in Sri Lanka. The government has effectively neutralized the issue of unemployment within suburbs and rural villages by projecting the army as a portal for professional development. This course of action can have severe repercussions on the countries diverse social fabric and poses many questions to the society in general.
What will we do with the exodus of Army personnel when the war is over? How do we remove them from the gun culture? Will there be sufficient employment opportunities which could attract these young men and women? How will the ammunition and arms in the possession of these disbanded soldiers be recovered by the state? Who will regulate it?
Till these issues are addressed at both sides of the divide no political solution would keep the youth of the country safe from taking up explosive habits.
Editor’s Note: This post was written by Muwahid Riza, who was a friend of Chanaka Peters, a gifted youth rugby player who crafted his name at Wesley College and then moved over to play his last year at St. Joseph’s College. Chanaka was shot dead on the 24th of April, in what Police quoted as a contract killing. Performance Poet Gemini’s piece “What are you fighting for” seems relevant at this juncture.
You’re waging wars over something that never was, and never will be yours, because owning the streets is just a fictitious concept that gets misused by hip-hop dudes that try to pass themselves off as re-incarnated gangstas.
So contrary to popular belief, no matter how deep your gang is, or how much money you think you’ll make from crack rocks, the only concrete blocks you’ll ever own, are the ones that come with steel bars, or the one we call tombstones.
So I guess the only decision to choose is whether the fabric in your casket should be red or blue, and I ask you what are you dying for?
The views expressed here are those of the authors.