What peace is
is with reference to 'Who started the horror?' by D.M. Wijewardena
(September 1) in reply to my letter of August 18.
I reply not
so much to defend myself, but to pick up some of the issues raised
by Mr. Wijewardena.
The first has
to do with digging the past. Unfortunately, whatever Anton Balasingham
(or even Ranil Wickreme-singhe) may say, merely forgetting the past
cannot pave the way to lasting peace. Peace is not made through
signed documents; nor can it be secured by monitoring committees.
On the contrary,
peace has to come with changes in attitudes; and where there are
grievances stemming from the past, attitudes can only be changed
by public (and in some cases corporate) confessions and apologies
from both sides of the divide. This is what I believe was accomplished
by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.
I am made to
understand from news reports that families of victims are spontaneously
calling for reductions in jail terms given to perpetrators of racial
violence, when the latter have publicly owned up to their misdeeds;
such is the power of confession.
My letter spoke
of many other atrocities apart from the July '83 incidents that
needed to be condemned. Mr. Wijewardena has highlighted some of
them, and I certainly agree and empathise with many of his sentiments.
I also recognize that pain, hurt and justifiable anger are feelings
experienced by all people in our country.
this is the second issue I wish to raise, confessions by definition
have to be unilateral. If I say, "I'm sorry I did this to you,
but you did that to me", it is not a confession; it is closer
to an argument. It is better to avoid digging the past for arguments;
rather, the past could be faced and confessed. At least some such
bold, unilateral gestures, at the personal, community or political
level are required to promote a genuine and lasting peace.
are always risky. They may not be reciprocated by the "other
side". One may also be misunderstood by one's "own side".
The third issue
is about the promotion of diversity in Sri Lanka.
As Mr. Wijewardena
has stated, people have left and will continue to leave the country
for greener pastures. (I myself was in London for three and a half
years as a graduate student - a privilege very few enjoy).
is, however, what our vision for a future Sri Lanka is. Do we try
to actively create a climate that encourages people of all backgrounds
(including most definitely those from rural Sinhala and Tamil backgrounds)
to stay and contribute towards progress, or are we content with
a "take it or leave it" attitude towards those who are
different from us?
One of the
main thrusts of my original letter was that we need to promote diversity,
not so much to "be decent to the minorities", but because
such diversity tends to produce progress (in the widest sense of
the word) by engendering creativity and dispelling sterility of
our nation healthier
The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.2 billion
adults who smoke affect 700 million children. All non-smokers should
rally round and convince the health authorities to introduce legislation
against smoking in enclosed areas - public transport, air-conditioned
offices, restaurants and conference halls.
Smoking a cigarette
produces three different types of tobacco smoke - inhaled smoke,
exhaled smoke and sidestream smoke. Smoke in the environment consists
of exhaled smoke and sidestream smoke, both of which contain chemical
carcinogens and other toxic substances.
particles of smoke are smaller than those of mainstream smoke and
can be inhaled more deeply.
In the past
30 years, evidence has accumulated that children breathing tobacco-polluted
air (passive smoking) are subject to respiratory illness, bronchitis,
pneumonia, asthma and other chest diseases.
They are also
more likely to become snorers or cough during the night due to the
chronic effect of smoke on their upper airways.
shown that children with cystic fibrosis who are exposed to tobacco
smoke in the home and surroundings are smaller and lighter than
those not exposed, suggesting a link between passive smoking and
growth and appetite. There has also been some evidence that passive
smoking in children affected the development of the brain and accelerated
the onset of heart disease.
added that the harm caused by passive smoking was "consistent
and robust and constitutes a substantial public health threat".
either parent during pregnancy is associated with a higher incidence
of all childhood cancers, especially lymphocytic leukaemia and lymphoma.
Mothers exposed to passive smoking at the workplace have been associated
with lower childbirth weight, spontaneous abortion, higher risk
of perinatal mortality and cot deaths. There is evidence of cervical
cancer being linked to tobacco smoke.
In June this
year, the WHO announced that there is overwhelming evidence that
passive smoking causes cancer by an increased risk of 20 to 30 percent.
Sir Richard Doll, a British scientist first linked smoking to lung
cancer 50 years ago.
who have examined findings from 50 papers on passive smoking, involving
thousands of lung cancer patients have added myeloid leukaemia,
liver cancer, stomach cancer, cervical cancer and renal cell carcinoma
- a form of kidney cancer.
researchers from 12 countries drawing on 3000 scientific papers
have published a report (WHO's International Agency for Cancer Research
- IARC) that firmly concludes that second hand tobacco smoke is
carcinogenic to humans. Evidence exists that passive smoking can
cause lung cancer (non-smokers married to a smoker are at a 26%
greater risk), other lung diseases and cardiovascular disease (30
minutes of passive smoking can significantly compromise the coronary
blood circulation). Ref. Journal of the American Medical Association
to this, of course, is the well known 'irritant' effect of tobacco
smoke on the eyes and the fetid odour that clings to the clothes.
Unfortunately, the general public cannot "strike" to get
legitimate demands. However writing to the press and talking about
it to people who make decisions will contribute to social and/or
legal behaviour that will make our nation healthier.
teacher's job is never done
A teacher's job was so rewarding
Tho' the lowest paid - of course
But not any more - Oh no!
A teacher plants
a seed of wisdom
And anxiously she tends it and
Watches to see it grow
leaf - each tiny bud
Is excitingly watched and tenderly nurtured
Outside elements are kept at bay
And by and by it's reward's day!
A child is on the way to success
job is never done,
She'll watch her charges grow to adulthood
She'll follow them across the years,
Their joys are hers, so too their tears
And they? Do they forget their teacher?
It has been proved that it's not so
Wherever they roam, wherever they go
The teacher's values, the teacher's love
Will be their guiding star
But not anymore
"My child is my jewel
A tender plant,
Don't scold, don't cane, don't humiliate my child"
They do not
say, "Don't love my child,
Nor bother him to study -
Don't this, don't that,
Just let him be - but
If he fails his grades,
Then we will blame you."
But these jewels,
these tender flowers,
Tell their teachers how their parents
They kick them, they belt them,
They humiliate them, withhold food
Withhold love - lock them up
In darkened rooms - and so it goes
You'll be surprised
But why should
you be surprised?
It's the parents way of
Shielding them from hostile teachers!
Pearline L. Withana
need to train teachers
I found Dr. Y.O. Indraratne's letter 'Education system:
Little room for choice' on August 28, useful and current.
Being a teacher
for the past 28 years and having had the opportunity to work in
both the government and private sectors, I agree with Dr. Indraratne
that for too long we have heard lame excuses such as "Where
are the teachers?"
As stated by
Dr. Indraratne, effective teacher training programmes to ensure
the English medium being introduced to schools, are necessary.
School in Colombo has identified this need and started a programme
designed to train teachers to teach in the English medium and also
teach English as a global language more effectively. The course
incorporates many new teaching methods which will be useful in ensuring
the switch to student-centred education, one of the primary thrusts
of the education reforms.
hands to fight crime
The rate at which crime is increasing is quite alarming.
Abductions and rape seem to have become the order of the day.
What is baffling
is that despite security measures being taken by the government,
there is no drop in the crime ratio. What is shocking is that these
crimes, particularly robberies are being committed in broad daylight.
It is difficult
to say who should be blamed, but the police cannot always be the
scapegoats. It is time that we, like responsible citizens, fight
crime with police help. We should stand up to this menace, join
hands and fight rather than becoming victims.
the police should convene meetings of citizens' groups and formulate
a scheme to overcome this problem.
The pavements on either side of Galle Road in Moratuwa have
been invaded by three-wheeler drivers and sales vans, transforming
them into vehicle parks.
have met with accidents when they stepped onto the road to avoid
packed pavements. Speeding mo-bikes had caused them injury.
stands for parking will eliminate this lawlessness and injury.
C.L. Terence Fernando
what's clean and tidy
The Chief Station Master and staff of the Gampola Railway
Station are taking a lot of pains to keep the station clean and
tidy. After a train departs, the platform and verandahs are swept
and on Sundays the platform and benches are washed.
efforts are hindered due to the pillars and lattice work on the
roadside being defaced by various posters.
should be removed and notices fixed banning posters.
to the Editor' should be brief and to the point.
Address them to:
'Letters to the Editor,
The Sunday Times,
P.O.Box 1136, Colombo.
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