Right-side of the change

By: Roy Ratnavel

On a recent trip to Toronto I was asked to attend a Tamil youth event. It wasn’t part of my original plan, but a detour on the way to my dinner destination of the night. What I saw can be summed up in two words, sophomoric spectacle.

The event was heavily laced with over-the-top fake patriotism. This is a clear case of Tamil patriotic crazy syndrome gone clinical and the fever has not broken yet on Tamil Canadian youths. The question I have is, how do you sustain something that is inherently unsustainable? I was tempted to pull the fire-alarm to save myself from this painful display. I left within an hour of my arrival to avoid breaking the law.

Within this short timeframe, I saw throngs of hormone-infused young people inside, blowing bravado at one another, while fine sounding rhetoric and pedestrian pronouncements played on the stage. I saw weird pledges to protect — not sure what, from some ‘lame’ book. I saw the audience just going through the motion of yet another one of many mundane events of the month.

I mourn the death of pragmatism in our community. When did it become necessary to sell patriotism like pimps? Tamil freedom struggle has become more about carefully crafted euphemisms than about human life recently. George Orwell, wonderful British writer once said whenever you hear a euphemism it means somebody is lying or cowardly.

Death steals everything except the stories, I was once told. Haven’t we seen enough deaths to understand the value of those life stories? I do not blame the youth for this disarray. The blame should be directed at group of adults with a purposeful suspension of critical thinking. These kids are under the spell of the charlatans who use them like props, and the kids are unable to realize that they are being had.

This extreme narrative that currently permeates in Tamil Canadian politics is not a legitimate expression of passionately held beliefs. Rather it is the unrefined and phobic reaction of adults who lack the skillful means to manage within a pluralistic, democratic society.

The silent, moderate, majority must also take some blame for this tragedy. We are seeing an increase in vitriolic voices, and when extremists of all stripes shout out, silence can no longer be afforded.

We all thought that perhaps this would just go away — that these small-minded adults would tire, but the truth is they’re not going anywhere. But when they go — with the benefit of hindsight, I submit to you that they are going take these youngsters down with them. Unless we actively stand up against this, we will all be swallowed by the weight of this incredible silliness.

Let's inspire our young generation with collective achievements and advancements of Tamils in Canada. It shouldn't be the destiny of the Tamil youths to suffer the rest of their lives with such uninspiring hijinks by the actions of those who want to lead them down the wrong path. Without sane people’s intervention, however, such destructive trend cannot be reversed. In fact I would argue such demagoguery and bombast in Diaspora circle must be eliminated for good by the people before it is too late. Such churlish and garden variety behavior has no use in solving monumental challenges Tamils face in Sri Lanka. To avoid being the owners of our own misery people need to rise up against such random act of foolishness.

These youth groups are trapped deep inside those organizations who try to confuse them by introducing irrelevant facts and flawed logic into Tamil freedom struggle. This kind of cleavage has become increasingly apparent in youth Diaspora circle — glaringly so in Canada.

Ideology trumps practicality, and change has enemies. But change can only happen if Tamils wake up and scrutinize such useless entities. We have the right to be concerned about organizations claim to speak on our behalf or on our youths’ behalf, but not representing our best interests.

Asking fair questions and expressing opposing views shouldn’t be socially verboten. Absence of change — leaves the distinct impression that they have permanently strayed inside a rigid regime of silly ideas and secrecy where every criticism is muted and weighed on a finely calibrated scale for fear of upsetting the status quo — or even worse; an entrepreneurial activity paid to feign a contemptuous interest in Tamils’ welfare.

I acknowledge that some of what I offered above is a visceral-expression and one might even say it is a vitriolic-hyperbole. But I submit to you that it is not my intention, nor it is my bailiwick. Admittedly as someone who is not part of any organization and as an identified strong supporter of Tamils’ right to self-determination, I have much less to prove.

My gripe is that we can’t allow our youngsters to be governed by the irrationality of delusional adults. First rule in fixing a problem is in understanding that there is one. I see irrationality and delusion as a huge problem — an anchor that is pulling our community down into a deep chasm.

Let’s stay focused on the central point of our struggle by getting on the right-side of the change.


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