It’s Thursday, which is one day away from Friday…
Amidst all the stories of tragedy, gloom, doom, and accusations of stinginess (although the media’s hype of massive generosity seems to belie the accusation of Scrooge behavior) regarding the South Asian tsunami, a Jan. 4 article – NY Times’ David Rhode’s writing on the hopes of humanity’s better nature:
The Tidal Wave Task Force headquarters here is not much to look at, but what is happening inside is extraordinary.
Inside a crumbling, bullet-riddled building in rebel territory in northern Sri Lanka, low-level representatives of the country’s government and Tamil Tigers rebels – mortal enemies in a brutal civil war – are sitting together and planning the distribution of relief aid to tsunami victims. [….]
In a reaction reminiscent of the sense of unity that spread across the United States following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, large numbers of Sri Lankans appear to be spontaneously reaching across the country’s festering ethnic divides and delivering donated food and aid to rival ethnic groups.
“We see people strongly affected by it,” said a senior Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They think about the possibility of working together and the necessity to do so.”
An array of political and religious leaders has called for national unity since the disaster. In impromptu scenes witnessed over the past five days, Sri Lankans of various backgrounds delivered aid to one another or proudly told stories of food being delivered by one group to another.
While it was impossible to gauge the actual breadth of the sentiment, a new passion for unity has been heard repeatedly in interviews. Asked why he had just delivered a truckload of food to a group of ethnic Tamil refugees on Sri Lanka’s east coast last week, Thavamani, a 48-year-old ethnic Sinhalese businessmen who uses only the one name, said it was his response to the disaster.
“Because of the incidents, we have to get together,” he said. “We have to get together.”
In the mountain town of Teldeniya in central Sri Lanka, Jayasingha, a 32-year-old businessman, was one of hundreds of people who attended a ceremony at a Buddhist temple where monks lit 15,000 oil lamps in remembrance of the dead. Sinhalese, who make up about 75 percent of the population, are generally Buddhists. Tamils, who make up roughly 18 percent of the population, are generally Hindus.
Gently cradling his 11-month-old daughter in his arms, Mr. Jayasingha, a Sinhalese, said the nation’s response to the crisis has shown that Sri Lankans can work cooperatively.
“Muslims, Sinhalese, Tamils, they are working together everywhere with this problem,” he said. “I’m hoping in the future it will be like that.”
Sounds beautiful, if it can happen.
Slate.com’s latest “Jurisprudence” column, by Stanford Law prof Richard Thompson Ford, argues that the liberals ought to embrace federalism. Arguably, he has a point – as much as the left of center folks recoil at the idea of states’ rights, there’s nothing inherently “conservative” about federalism. It always irritated me whenever the conservative types wave their so-called federalism flag, since I always thought that there was more to federalism than “conservative” or “liberal” labels. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but federalism was more than just “states’ rights” – it was the Founding Fathers’ idea of balancing the states and the central (federal) government and included checks and balances of the federal government itself (the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches annoying the heck out of each other with various maneuvers). I mean, those Founding Fathers weren’t idiots or just Dead White Guys – they were trying to make an unprecedented government that functioned somehow for more than 200 years…
(ok, it’s too obvious that I spent my undergraduate years studying the history of the Founding Fathers, isn’t it? Rah-rah for the history majors; or else maybe the poli-sci folks can challenge that.).