“The concealed malignancy of hypocrisy is more harmful than open hostility.” (Ayatollah Agha Pooya).
Today, we live in a society where hypocrisy is seen in abundance. In fact, two-facedness is common in many fields, be it party politics, religious persuasion, social interaction, inter-ethnic relations, family relationship and so on. No one would admit his/her hypocrisy because it has, some way or the other, attained the status of an accepted ‘new normal’. The admittance of the ‘new normal’ per se proves the extent to which even the society itself has condescended. If necrophilism or cannibalism for whatever reason disgusts us, hypocrisy too should be disgusting to us. Hypocrisy, undoubtedly, is a spiritual and moral abomination and a disturbing mental condition that threatens society. When it is said to them:
“Do not make mischief (corruption, conflict) on the earth, “they say: “We only want to make peace (reforms).”(Quran, Chapter 2 Verse 11).
It is said that the term hypocrite refers to a person whose inward reality differs from his outward appearance; One who is two-faced or a double-dealer. Hypocrites do not use logic or rational reasoning to achieve their personal goals or profits; instead, they unjustly oppose whichever is of benefit to them. A hypocrite says something with his tongue that he does not believe in his heart.
This column will briefly examine the prevalence of hypocrisy in the vulgarised adaptation of ‘patriotism’ in Sri Lanka. A style, definition and interpretation concocted fluidly to suit the agendas of our far-right politicians and the notoriously deviant monks. There was an amusing poster in the social media recently with a picture of police brutality and two onlookers. One of them asks, “where did this happen?” The other person said, “In Sri Lanka”. The questioner replied, “Then don’t talk about it, you will be considered unpatriotic”. This gives us a sense of perceived ‘patriotism’.
All stand up with respect and that innate sense of sanctity, when the national flag flutters, as if choreographed to the tune of the accompanying national anthem. We do experience a strange feeling when singing along. Sometimes even goose bumps. Such sensations are stimulated by the flow of inner spirituality that lay deep within us. This affection reminds us of our natural link to the belly of the soil in which we were born – Mother Lanka. Just like the umbilical cord connecting the mother to her infant. Through the medium of the national anthem, we express this attachment by eulogising that sentiment of reverence and closeness.
Change the National Anthem
For a moment reflect on the following words in the anthem, eka mawakuge daru kela bewina (as children of one mother). The extreme right wingers ‘patriotically’ utter these words with unbounded passion. Despite this, given an opportunity, they would not hesitate to cause mayhem in the society. Abusive allegations and accusations are relentlessly hurled at the Tamil Sankaralingam, the Muslim Abdullah and the Christian Joseph. Hate statements are not censured but tolerated, for example; ‘They do not belong here. They need to be kept in their places. They are invasionists, terrorists, fundamentalists, separatists and dangerous conspiracists. They should not be given any recognition. They are minorities.’ Basically, denying the minorities their bond to the motherland.
If that is the limit of the understanding of these dumb heads about plurality and diversity in a 21st century globalised setting, they may need to change the words in the national anthem.
It is interesting to analyse the display of blatant hypocrisy by such people in relation to the National flag. We have seen them standing up for the national anthem and bowing to the national flag with much respect. However, when these extremists are in the act of violence, they hypocritically carry an altered or distorted national flag. The Orange stripe depicting the Tamil ethnicity and the Green stripe showing the Moor ethnicity is brazenly removed. These stupids ignorantly and unashamedly retain the saffron border of the flag. This saffron border has been aesthetically designed to depict Buddhism. Not only that it also has another purpose and, that is, to symbolise ‘unity among the people’ of a plural Sri Lanka. Imagine the extent of confusion and barefacedness of these right-wing extremists when they chose to alter the Sri Lankan national flag.
Buddha’s teachings on ethics and conduct especially, of the monks are of a very high standard. To uphold such teachings and disseminate it to the layman is the responsibility of the clergy. The majority of the clergy sincerely engage in this dharmic cause and have earned the respect and esteem of the people.
There is however, another bunch of few robed monks who are completely different from the respected venerables. They add fuel to fire by craftily intervening to give prominence to the hypocrites from among the laymen. By doing so opportunistically exploit to their favour and fame the reverence given to the saffron robe. The paragons who are expected to refrain from speaking lies, falsehood and fabricated information very commonly violate this precept unchallenged by anyone. These monks continue to lie knowing well that you know that they are lying. The media and the general public respect the saffron robe. The police because of this respect, hardly apply the rule of law to the monks.
Of course, most of the people belonging to the Sinhala community are severely embarrassed by the behaviour of these monks. They know there is nothing in their hearts except to cause trouble. They are like hallow timber, which is useless by itself, and has to be propped up against other things. This is very evident because you see them showing up from hibernation given the slightest chance. Unfortunately, these monks very unkindly and callously also, dishonour by their ill-mannered conduct, the deep respect and reverence that is due to some of the most respected venerable monks.
One may wonder if these ill-behaved monks are mentally diseased and, therefore, deserve our kindness, care and concern. Charles Ford, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama Birmingham and author of Lies! Lies!! Lies!!! says, when it comes to compulsive liars, “words seem to flow out of their mouths without them thinking about it.” Robert Reich, M.D., psychiatrist and expert in psychopathology, says compulsive lying is associated with a range of diagnoses, such as antisocial, borderline and narcissistic personality disorders.
“When you look at them, their physical appearance attracts you and when they speak, you carefully listen to them. In fact, they are like propped up hollow trunks of wood (unable to stand on their own).”(Quran, Chapter 63 Verse 4).
Not Acceptance but Respect
Sankaralingam, Abdullah and Joseph are not pleading from these extremists and ethno-racist nationalists to accept them. They are demanding that they be respected as human beings, respected as equal citizens, respected as those belonging to this soil and to be respected as equal to any true patriot of this soil.
The following lines picked from an article, ‘Buddhism and the race question’, explains:
“Buddhism from the first proclaimed the oneness of mankind and denied that birth in a particular race or caste was or should be an obstacle towards anyone developing his potentialities as a man or as a spiritual being. Such obsessions, which are the accumulated products of acquired erroneous beliefs, are among the intoxicants (avijjasava) of the mind and have to be got rid of by a process of self-analysis and conscious elimination. (G. P. Malalasekera and K. N. Jayatilleke.)
If you claim to be a true patriot, then respect the words in the national anthem and, also, do not distort the national flag. Accept both of these honestly and with sincerity before making the grand claim of being a patriot. Let us all unite to focus in directing our combined energy and efforts towards taking care of Mother Lanka.