Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I came across this letter, written (31 December 2011) to someone much younger in age. Charles Sarvan
To: Ms Ponnambalam
Sent: Saturday, 31 December 2011, 7:08
To some of the “mistakes” mentioned by you in relation to the Tigers, if one is to be honest and frank, one should add, “crimes and sins”. Regarding “sins”, a lot of what they did is abhorrent in the eyes of all religions but “sin”, I think, can also have a non-religious application, namely, the violation of our common humanity. The catalogue of mistakes, crimes and sins is long: I don’t think they need listing to you. But
if there was brutality, there was also incredible bravery;
if there was strategic foolishness, there were also instances of tactical brilliance;
if there was cynicism, there was also idealism;
if there was megalomania and the lust for power, there was also self-denial and self-sacrifice.
It's difficult to hold a balanced view (what's more, one that is situated in historical context). Most of us slip into either total defence or total condemnation: it's so much easier and convenient.
A desperate people - repeatedly disappointed and disillusioned; systematically marginalised; periodically set upon and assaulted - saw the LTTE leader as the much-needed, and long-awaited, “saviour” who would bring freedom and dignity.
Early success can be fatal - see, among others, Napoleon and Hitler - in that it leads to (1) belief in one’s invincibility and, with that, (2) the refusal to listen to other voices, to reject any form of compromise: success and power leading to arrogance and cruelty. Then followed the mistakes, crimes and sins we talked about.
Nor should one forget “9/11” and the “war on terror” that soon followed. The world changed but the LTTE leader didn’t: he was unable and unwilling to adapt: Charles Darwin’s thoughts on evolution and survival also have a political application.
To attempt to understand is not necessarily to exculpate. I offer my “reading” and welcome your input – be it modification, amplification or correction. The Tamils have endured the unendurable; they are, at present, shattered and exhausted. They need time – though that time is used by the government to consolidate occupation, and to further emasculate a defeated people.
Hopefully, future generations, having learnt lessons, will shape – as far as they can – a different, a more successful and a happier future.
With good wishes to you and yours for 2012