A timely premonition, perhaps with the intention of nipping in the bud; the Daily Mirror Editorial on’ Cricket, Nation and Religion’ II .08.09.has focused the attention of people of all nationalities and people with diverse religious practices to think as Sri Lankans [Nation] on all issues without giving prior consideration to community and religious sentiments. Perhaps it is after the Premadasa Stadium cricket matches that prompted the Editor to publish his thoughts. The anti national cheering practice based on community and religion has prevailed for many years, but people of other communities and religions for reasons of good relations ignored and were silent.
The first cricket match played in Galle has always proved that out stations attract large crowds.Among the Sri Lankan spectators was a group dressed in their recently acquired foreign dresses, cheering the Pakistan Team waving the Pakistan National flag and that for sentimental attachments, but if they in addition cheered the national team the appreciation would have been a worthy sentiment. They were silent when Pakistan lost the match and failed to cheer the national team. Of the other spectators the majority cheered only for our team and only a few applauded a technically perfect cricketing shot or a smart piece of fielding or a clever grasp of a ball to complete a catch by a Pakistani player.
This is not the first occasion it has happened as in many sporting events in Colombo when a Muslim country participates the cheering is for the visitors and not for the local team and many have silently observed the occurrence even in 1950s at the then Oval, SSC and in out station matches.
Most confrontations all over the world is a result of not thinking and acting in a human, moral, ethical manner but is based on religious sentiments or based entirely on religious concepts in a document. With irrational expressions and demeaning conduct a person or a group cannot insult, humiliate or degrade any religion, a religious prophet, a religious icon, a religious dignitary or written religious documents, such persons only portray their ignorance and lose the respect of the people. But in most other countries, Muslims groups rather than taking offence and expressing dissatisfaction pass sentences of death and numerous other punitive punishments .
Philosophers and Scientists from Galileo to Albert Einstein, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bertram Russell and many others have expressed in their books their attitude to religion and their disbelief of some critical concepts but, only few people the world over have agreed with their critical expressions on religion. The majority abide by and observe all religious practices according to the concepts of their religion. Persons who had expressed strictures on religious beliefs and practices live a good life for many years serving the people with acceptance and living with them without being banned for their strong expressions against religious concepts and practices.
Recently in Pakistan a Church and some houses of Christians were burnt on hearing that the Holy Koran had been disparaged but fortunately there was no reaction from Christians in other countries. In Beruwala a dispute of two groups of two Mosques resulted in the burning of one if not both Mosques and the death of a few Muslims. If the dispute or the misunderstanding occurred with persons of other communities or religions the damage to institutions and humans would have been greater. The Talibans destroyed several Buddhist statues and Buddhists reaction was simple protests.
It is evident from the cricketing incident that the attachment is not for the country of birth but to communities of other countries reflecting a desire to distance from other communities of this country. To live as members of one nation persons of all communities should think and act humanely without community or religious attachments in decisions involving the SL nation.
“The modern world is plagued by a greater diversity of beliefs than ever, many of them eccentric or even dangerous, and rational argument is regarded by a lot of ordinary people in pointless sopistry.’ ‘The Mind of God’ by Paul Davies