The Known Devil Better Than The Unknown?

After over 15 months with Beyond Borders I have finally decided it is high time to voice myself simply because of the drama that we are been exposed to day in and day out courtesy of the post war hullaballoo and the upcoming presidential elections. Thanks to them we are not lacking entertainment but then again it is only when I reflect on these things that I realize how ridiculous all this is and has been.

What is being projected to us these days as politics in this country is simply a battle for votes by two individuals and their supporters. All we get to see is each of them and their supporters blabbing away about why the other should NOT become the next executive president of this country.  Now is this really what we want to hear? Do we/should we care about these things? Do they bother to tell us about their policy plans for the years to come, how we should proceed to solve the existing dilemmas, or have they asked us what we want or think? Do they even know what we want? Or are we, the so called citizens of this country, just a part of one big conspiracy?

In the present day the sad plight of us activists is that if and when we criticize the government and or point out where capacity should be built and where attention needs to be focused on we are labeled as a traitor or a supporter of the opposition. The charismatic movement provoked by Nationalism is such that people have become extremely defensive in all aspects of the present mechanisms of governance and it got me thinking; is it even worth talking to them about these issues? Whenever you try to bring it up you are ridiculed by emphasis on how the previous presidents and governments operated leading to justifications of the existing methods. They fail to realize with their pea sized intellects that an insight to an initiative is neither a conspiracy nor is it an attempt to break down the exiting governing order, not radically anyway. When would they understand that there is a fine line between constructive criticism and betrayal or treachery?

Our adults have labeled our youth political conversations, projects and initiatives as driven by a post-adolescent/youth hormone rush. I hate to break the news to them that we have better and more exciting pleasures in life to explore if we are being driven by our hormones! Starting from extreme sports, wild life adventures to plain old sex! Why we talk about these issues and try to bring them to the public attention is not because if the hormone rush but because we care about ourselves. We care about our future and we want to know how, who, why, when and if decisions about ‘our’ lives are being made. If you don’t think we should have a say in these aspects of our lives which have a direct effect on us, you need immediate mental health support!

The greatest obstacle I have faced thus far is in convincing fellow youth about why these aspects of governance are or should be important to us. To most of them the only things that matter are completing their education, getting a job, getting married, buying a house and a car and living happily ever after. How lovely! Funnily enough that is exactly what we want too but we are calling out for action for various reasons, reasons that range from our right to safe livelihoods to social injustice and corruption in public bodies.

Today’s youth seem to have forgotten the level of influence governance has imposed upon their simple interests. They have also forgotten their ability to influence and drive it to the next level for the betterment of their lives. It is either that they have failed to see their power (limited as it may be as individuals but also in its strength when it is a collection of people), or it is simply apathy.

Just have a look at something basic like exercising our right to vote; how do we cast our vote? As a silent observer, I came to notice that most of people I have come across are blinded by mere rhetoric or by an old age invalid family tradition or belief. Is this how we should select the people whom we chose to make decisions on our behalf? This is yet another flaw of democracy. I will spare you the misery of having to go through my perspective of this deceptive concept called democracy by not elaborating on it.

‘’So whom do you think would win upcoming election?’’ ‘’For whom are you voting this time?’’ Those are couple of most frequently asked questions these days and which give rise to various arguments but mostly jokes! Apart from the blind faith an appalling answer you could get is, ‘’no one deserves my vote’’ or ‘’I am not willing to vote this time’’. What does this say about our youth? That you don’t care about your own future? That you don’t bother who ever may come to power but you would live your life someway or other? Tired of this game of politics? Or is the known devil better than the unknown?

So what should be the incentive for the youth to dig deep in to the mechanisms of governance or simply to cast their vote? Once a good friend of mine said to ‘’only invest in places where you would have a direct return and if you don’t have a direct return don’t invest at all’’. So, is working on governance and policy issues a worthy investment? Or should we all just mind our own businesses and just try to fatten ourselves up with life’s numerous pleasures or try to hold on to your life when faced with obstacles which floats our way? Move on with what we are familiar by rejecting the unfamiliar? Stick to your own kind and just worry about your rear?

Just think about it. When will youth realize that apathy is boring? How do we communicate it to them? Is this a worthy investment? Is the known devil better than the unknown?

Bhagya Ratnayake

Bhagya is a Core Group Member of Beyond Borders whose notorious silences are occasionally broken by such righteous outbursts. We hope she talks even more in the future. Her opinions are her own.


About AHAzeez

to err is human, to keep erring under the false impression that it makes you even more human is criminal.

Posted on 12/28/2009, in Opinions, Peace-Conflict-Governance, Sri Lanka, Youth-Culture-Society. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. if you want to be effective and convince ppl drop the platitudes and generalizations (and your laughable assumption of intellectual superiority)

    be specific , factual, and realistic. (main things you are not in this post)

    of course you are free to rant on ineffectually , and always live in uncomprehending amazement at events which turn out not to your liking ( which you will probably attribute to other ppls’ stupidity or corruption etc. ) .

  2. Gotta admit that most youth are politically ambivalent!

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