Farm Hounds and Moose Hunters

By Roy Ratnavel

(February 27, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) Ever spend a summer's night on the farm? Sometime ago, while traveling through the flat lands of Canadian Prairies, I was invited to stay at a farm. After enjoying mid-Western hospitality of barbeque and chat around the fire pit, I retired for the night in the farmhouse. In the middle of the night I was woken by loud barking at the farm I was staying at, which immediately followed by many barks from dogs in neighboring farms.

This middle of the night unprovoked barking went on every night, and soon I started to notice a pattern. A dog thinks he hears something he doesn't like and starts barking. Within a minute, dogs from other farms join in. After few minutes of annoying barking, they all go silent, unsure as to why they were barking in the first place, and go back to being the lazy ol'porch-hounds that they are. Unlike other dogs, these particular farm dogs are not needed for any important chores like hunting or sheep herding; rather they just sleep all day, and when they are not, they walk around the farm aimlessly. It's what they do.

In the context of Sri Lankan conflict there are many real, and ‘nom de guerre’ porch hounds of such caliber – Sebastian Rasalingam et al. They like to bark it up just to show everyone that they are still hanging around by the porch, while sporting a massive chip on their shoulders that could be seen from outer space. At heart, these Sri Lankan hounds – some senile, are morbid rubberneckers. Give off even the faintest sense of suffering, or sordid circumstance, and they will pop their snout in peoples’ pain and start admiring the magnitude of misery. Like those farm dogs of the Prairies they do nothing of value except to cause distraction with tiny annoying insidious bark, and waxing of eloquence with verbal machete; so their political masters can carry-on with the “agenda.”

The “agenda” – of course is to get the entire nation on the same “Genocide” page. In return for being loyal “Genocide Sympathizers” they get rewarded, from time to time, with a little scratch behind their ears and few doggy biscuits to chew on. Currently, the line between truth and propaganda is a border so often crossed it makes Sri Lanka look like cold war Berlin. And, ironically the last time I can remember the entire nation on the same page was Germany in the late 1930’s, and we all know how that turned out.

Back in the dim past, when I was a pup in the investment arena, a revered veteran passed along a story to illustrate the point that enforcing the same unproductive economic policies over and over can only produce same unproductive economic results; and the story is worthy of note here as it is jarringly similar to Sri Lankan saga.

Two politicians went on a moose hunt. Since the terrain was unknown to them and a punishing one to boot, they hired a plane and pilot to take them for hunting and for the trip back home. The pilot was happy to do it, as he knew that it is a chance to make a quick buck while being in charge. But he warned the politicians – as he has done such trips before – that they could only bring back one moose, as the small plane cannot take the weight of more than three people and a moose. Politicians agreed.

However, after the hunting was over, politicians brought back two moose. To which the pilot said: “I told you guys the plane can only take one moose and three people.” Conniving that they are, the politicians coaxed and cajoled and finally convinced the pilot to take both moose and them, pilot agreed.

After a painfully long taxi, take off and a short flight – the plane crash-landed due to overweight. When the dust settled, one of the politicians managed to get him out of the wreckage, looked outside and asked the pilot “Where are we?” And the pilot replied “We are about few kilometers away from where you two dummies crashed the plane last time.”

While this is a simple story, it profoundly reflects the current situation in Sri Lanka; pilot denoted by the ‘consortium of countries’ which are helping Sri Lanka to crush the Tamil freedom struggle, Plane is ‘the country,’ punishing terrain is ‘Tamil Heartland,’ and of course the ‘Two Politicians’ are Colombo drunks who adamantly believe that the best way to prevent a hangover is to stay drunk.

It is a mystery why Sri Lanka stubbornly refuses to learn from the mistakes of its past. A cursory glance at the experience of the past in Sri Lanka would suggest that it is a very bad idea to celebrate military battles – which always has the tracings of a low budget Bollywood movie. Politicians have been trumpeting their recent ‘elusive’ victory for months with displays and dances, which can only lead to nothing but more Tamil anger, resentment and subsequently more violence. Rubbing salt in old wounds with military bravado speeches is guaranteed to inflame passions best allowed to recede. In a country awash in violence, it seems egregious to celebrate this conflict.

Albert Einstein’s insight was never more apt: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” said one of humanity's biggest brains half a century ago. Sri Lanka – a sinking ship; reintroducing the same old bad policies is like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. The evidences are abundance to support such claim.

Most of the population lives below the poverty line. Almost 45% of the population makes less than $2 a day. School children in Sri Lanka suffer from malnutrition. Global investors continuously deprive foreign direct investments – a key prerequisite for economic growth. Basic services still remain rudimentary. The general standard of living is on the decline. The rule of law is absent for the most part. A huge number of people have fled abroad to seek better opportunity and to do better things with their skills and money, resulting in brain drain and capital. The country is financially levered infinite times over, and completely broke beyond believe. Generations of unborn Sri Lankans are now in financial debt, forever. It’s like watching an economic train wreck in slow motion.

Despite all this, a sizeable myopic majority of hounds are fixated on short-term fixes, and say that “Eelam” idea is dead, and a sizeable plurality of politicians say it is because they have “won the war.” Meanwhile the bulk of the Sri Lankan population is dancing hard to this drumbeat at the party financed by the foreigners; without giving any deep thought and totally oblivious to the mess there are in by adhering to the notion that “Two drunks don’t make a sober person.”

So the natural question is, is the party over? Well, I do not know. But if I were at this party, I would be dancing near the exit door. Because one thing is for sure: Tamil freedom struggle can’t end until the last Tamil gives up. French poet and playwright Victor Hugo's dictum is now unfolding: “No army can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come.” Tamil Diaspora’s recent show of force around globe is an example of such defiance.

It took Sri Lanka, many foreign countries support – military advisers, consultants, strategists, pilots, guns, bombs and about 30 years to get to this point, and it’s still not over. Eelam cause on the other hand relied on no one – not a single foreign entity, but owned by Tamils and operated by high-grade fuel of freedom. It managed to outsmart all the thug politicians and heavily decorated Sri Lankan army generals with gold braid and badges, who painfully rely on foreigners to do the heavy lifting for them. I am not sure what military traditions these brave sons emanate from – maybe WestPoint Academy, but it is categorically embarrassing to say the least.

Even after all those claims of ‘annihilation’ of Tigers by these hounds, they still managed to penetrate Sri Lanka’s “borrowed” – not bought – air defense, and managed to cause some mayhem and embarrass the Colombo goons. True to form, the hounds of course dismissed this by barking at those planes and calling it a kite with primitive technology. If the Tigers can surprise them with a kite, imagine what they can do with real ones. And, Ukraine pilots were not flying those Tiger planes either. I am not sure who is skillful and brave in this scenario? These hounds apparently prefer to remain comfortably inside a particular bubble – a bubble that most Tamils recognize it as the empty illusion of intelligent thought with more shine than substance.

Given the current abominable situation, every Sri Lankan who fails to vociferously urge the ‘hounds and hunters’ to be responsible forfeits the right to peaceful sleep and safe flight in this little farm called Sri Lanka. Remember, those who sleep with dogs wake up with fleas.

The moose hunters have finally tipped the scale, and crash-landed the country – once again. Soon the farm dogs will stick to animalistic legacy of their evolutionary past and will go silent, unsure as to why they were barking in the first place. In a country that loves its clichés, “there’s no silver bullet” to this long-term issue of Tamil freedom struggle; but the hounds and hunters have given way to a “perfect storm” once and for all in this contentious battle.

I used to take an almost perverse delight in being politically incorrect about countries with bad leaders. Now I see otherwise: There is no humane way to destroy a country.

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-Sri Lanka Guardian