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.


Posted on 05/05/2009, in Youth-Culture-Society and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. this post is highly superficial to say the least .
    it is even unable to define the problem.
    what is a “gun culture”? what is it that we must prevent? where is evidence? does a follow b ?

    the sort of gun crimes described take place in places where guns are not widely available ( such as britain , germany, why did the writer forget those ?)) and there are no “disbanded ” soldiers ( who the writer slanders gratuitously from his narrow minded point of view as a potential criminals) and other alleged “problems” that (again allegedly ) potentially (note “potentially” )leads to culture of such crimes here.

    he puts in a silly unrelated remark about war profiteering as the main force behind fighting, but forgets to note defeating criminal terrorists of ltte ( btw their being criminal terrorists armed with guns is a very ethical and sufficient reason for fighting ltte, with or without war profiteering ) gets rid of a lot of armed criminals .

    in fact there are lot of such absurdities here that it will take a very long comment to list them all .

    certain type of half baked marxist thinking underlie this ( maybe even without the writer realizing it ); this thinking always puts the blame on society and not on individual, it always holds society responsible but forgets personal responsibility .

    so we find the unwarranted generalization of individual incidents into widespread( potentially widespread ) social ills.

    such thinking always forget that individuals always have a choice how to act, whether they have guns or not, have problems or not , or/and think they don’t have a choice .

    too bad ppl who want to “prevent ” something do not take the time to identify and define it , think their ideas through, test them, recognize contradictory evidence, and contradictions in the arguments, such ppl to prescribe to society ? ha!

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