The days I spent at the RFK Centre, with those who desired personal liberty and freedom

Nilantha Ilangamuwa

Change cannot be achieved by forcing others to accept the world that you have conceptualized as per your will, desire and imagination, it happens through the attitudes that you improved throughout the work in which you engaged in and created a space where others can observe your work without hesitation or burden.

I felt like screaming when I was returning to the place where I was staying, after spending hours watching a documentary on homophobia in Uganda.

Uganda is one of the countries in the world which continuously contributes to the nightmares of humans in the pages of world’s history. The movie was screened by the Robert F. Kennedy, Centre for Justice and Human Rights, Europe,( RFK Centre) based in Florence. My aim in this article is not to talk about homophobia in Uganda or reviewing the documentary but to try to understand the common realities that most violence based societies faced where Idi Amin Dada had to run away after he cleaved the human flesh by his tiger teeth; Joshep Koni , the man who destroyed the futures of thousands of children has gone hiding somewhere in the hideout in a neighboring country after contributing to the worst of bloody sins in history. Do these make for any real change? No.

The decrease in the number of killings doesn’t make any difference if the society has to sleep with the ghosts of the old devil.

It is an illusion if someone thinks that society will be changed when the enemy has lost his ground. The devil is none other than the production of the slippery slope which is being taken by the current-generation. It is a smokescreen if someone believes that they can make change without identifying the root causes which influence social disorder. As in many countries from Latin America to Asia, Africa and Central Europe, Idi Amin as well as Koni were products of the system.

Recently former Argentine dictator Jorge Videla died in prison. Videla was the man responsible for 30,000 killings in the country after he grabbed power in a military coup in which he overthrew Isabel Martinez De Peron. Over the five years of his rule, his ambition was none other than the elimination of the authentic political critiques and those who opposed his dictatorship.  What we are seeing today is how the same scenarios are being repeated albeit in different forms.

Blood has flowed on and on and on, respect and loyalty for humanity has constantly decreased and personal liberty in on the decline. Killing an enemy has become a common habit. The difference between the animal and the human is narrowing with every passing day. The social disorder which cost us our loved ones lives while gifting us trauma has not changed and perhaps political egoism has risen over everything.

What we can see in most societies is the gravity of suffering, tears of sorrow and nightmares of hopelessness. When man lost touch with his humanity he had no reason to walk along the higher path. Thus he turns into the status of the fallen and looks around to see where his fellow citizens are. When man lost his meaning of life he can do nothing but scream till his last breath.

Victor Frank’s Man Search for Meaning was addressed as follows:

Group Exhibition-2011“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible”.

What we are seeing in many countries categorized as “developing nations”, is the common reality of suffering! Institutional collapse!

Loss of hope of life while accepting that “social change” is impossible. This is the most common tragedy that we can observe in our motherlands. In our society the desire to fight against absolute power has been opposed by the culture of silence.

Problem is not only the regime or the particular party that rules the country, but also the fake dissents that are always sitting in front of the computer and distorting public will, and creating false assumptions of the crisis.

During the referendum in Zimbabwe, there was a man who was an appointed journalist by the BBC. He wanted to tell the world that there is election violence going on; what he did was, to take a few posters from oppositions and burnt them, and filmed it. So couple of minutes later he reported that there is election violence going on in the particular area.  We see similar pattern with most of the non-governmental organizations.

Most of the NGOs, are neither based on freedom nor justice, but contributing to the mafia, one of my friends from Cuba who is currently based in Serbia said.

We must understand that we need proper discussion on the present trends of NGOs; therefore it’s time to change bad reputation that they have earned in the last decades. It is pretty clear that the person who is engaged in NGO activities is an easy target in most developing countries. No one called or enquire about me when the police arrested me and kept me in custody for many hours. But if the police arrested top level NGO person it will become a lead story in the country. I do not expect anything but at least there must be a common understanding and respect between those who are engaging in grass root activities.

Enemies within enemies, crisis within crisis, chaos within chaos has been emerging in many countries. We are trying to understand strength of personalities, strength of adversaries and our allies among communities while caged in our own world. Do we really desire to solve the problem? I doubt.

It seems that most “activists” want to keep these chaotic problems alive, therefore they fear that they will lose something if the problems were solved.  It is very hard to think about future unless we engage in clinical exercises and deep discussions in the field and its future.

When the worm has mud and slum to crawl in and hide from enemies it will be safe as long as it lives. But at a certain time the hungry kingfisher will discover where the worm is. The hungry worm can eat everything around it but will be trapped when the kingfisher sees it.

In a same way, the tyrant has power to play as long as he is the master in his surroundings. He will be the tyrant as long as people around him are blindfolded.  As they say in Chinese traditional wisdom, “The water can stabilize or destabilize the ship”.

The days I shared with colleagues who honestly revealed themselves and their activities allowed me the time to think twice about the work we are engaged in.

I could do no better than quote the words of Fredrick Douglas, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.

“Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.”

Let us unite, as Gloria Reuben, a well-known Hollywood actress pointed out; to make the world for the people who have no space to raise their voice, whose rights have been buried in the slum of absolute power and injustice. Let us sing our song of rights among the communities where people can come up with fresh ideas to change the society currently controlled by the tyrant. It will wipe out our sorrows and tears of sadness while generating a hope in hapless souls.