Twos and threes - healing Sri Lanka

By Savi Hensman
March 2, 2013

Small gatherings can have a vital role if Sri Lanka’s wounds are to be healed and justice achieved, according to Duleep de Chickera.

The former Anglican Bishop of Colombo’s Lenten reflection has been published at a time when the government is under international pressure because of wartime atrocities and there is discontent within the country too.

It is a bold move. The island has faced increasingly autocratic rule by President Mahinda Rajapakse and his brothers – to the extent that even the top judge was removed after getting in the way of their ambitions – and many are still in denial about human rights abuses.

Especially towards the end of a long and brutal conflict, both government and Tiger rebel forces inflicted huge suffering on non-combatants. Since then, minorities have been treated shabbily, and critics of the regime intimidated.

However some continue to speak out. Colombo’s current bishop, Dhiloraj Canagasabey, called for a time of lament after the impeachment of the chief justice threw a spotlight on the loss of democracy.

According to a Gospel passage, Jesus said that “where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18.20) ‘Evolutionary Decline and the Ascent of Human Resilience’ can be found on http://groundviews.org/2013/02/25/a-lenten-reflection-by-bishop-duleep-d.... Some excerpts follow:

The weeks leading to Independence Day on February 4 were filled with intense debate on the legality and morality of the impeachment of the Chief Justice...

The beginning of Lent, (Ash Wednesday, Feb. 13) followed close on these events. Since Lent is a time for inner scrutiny, repentance and a return to integrity amidst the harsh realities of life, any realistic preparation to celebrate Easter as the Festival of Ascent, is called to wrestle with these events...

Evolutionary decline operates in cyclic form. At regular intervals serious irregularities of public and national importance that demand government accountability, stir the nation...

As the system absorbs more and more irregularities, its very nature becomes irregular...

Thankfully this trend is not the end of the story. Evolutionary decline inevitably breeds an alternative people’s resilience which refuses to succumb to the former. This people’s resilience, vibrant and alive in all corners of the country, exposes the irregular system by sifting and sustaining the truth in the security of twos and threes, when doing so publicly could be costly...

This people’s resilience also functions as informal people’s tribunals when justice is distorted...

The universal Christ is present in the “twos and threes” to endorse and empower such gatherings...

People’s resilience eventually has a spill-over effect. Its association with and assertion of the truth, frees people from self and sectarian interest to recognise responsibility for the freedom of others...

It is from such a consolidation of people’s resilience and people’s solidarity that we will be best equipped to address the deeper wounds of reconciliation that the national agenda wishes to bypass.

* See also Lent 2013 links on Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/Lent2013

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(c) Savitri Hensman is a regular Christian commentator on politics, social justice and religion. She was born in Sri Lanka and is an Ekklesia associate.

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