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A Call for National Integrity
CEYLON 070807-1
August 7, 2007

A Statement by the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] The recent escalation of the war agenda and war euphoria through special commemorative events is cause for concern. We respond to war best by striving to end war; and we respect those who engage and die in war best, by ensuring that more lives are not lost.

In war there are no winners and losers. All lose, including the ones who think they win. Popular reporting may suggest otherwise, but the escalation of war in Sri Lanka simply requires an escalation of the deaths of Sri Lankans on all sides. These are mostly the young and the poor; lured or coerced into battle by shrewd rewards and devices by both sides.

An escalation of war correspondingly demands an escalation of destruction to the economy and environment, an escalation of human displacement and misery, an escalation of the war budget, an escalation of budgetary cuts apportioned for essential welfare services, an escalation of Government borrowing, an escalation of indebtedness of future generations and indeed an escalation of human revenge, pride and hatred.

War can never be right. The responsibility of democratic leadership then, is to work earnestly and urgently to end war and achieve a just and stable socio-economic order through non-violent, negotiated means. If we can initiate negotiations on our own, then we must do so immediately. If we cannot we must ask for help clearly and purposefully. To claim to know the path ahead and watch the country plunge into a precipice without turning for help is perhaps the most serious breach of democratic trust.

Equally serious is the investment of the war agenda in the lives of our children. The indoctrination of trapped school communities, through often helpless school authorities, exposed to risk, with programmes highlighting images of war and the enemy is a serious violation of the vulnerability and dignity of our children and must be condemned.

The LTTE, with a much longer sustained record, and also the Government, which acts sporadically, are both guilty of this trend. I urge them both to please respect the rights of our children and refrain from sowing seeds of hostility in young impressionable minds.

Our children are the real wealth and potential of our Nation. They must one day soon, live in harmony together. Our religions and cultures, and mostly our love and best expectations for them leave us with no other option. Consequently I caution and call upon all who love and care for children, specially Parents, Educationists, Teachers and Religious Leaders to counter this trend by investing the values of mutual respect and trust, co-operation, sharing and co-existence into their valuable young lives.

It is still not too late to come to our senses and turn our swords into ploughshares.

With Peace and Blessings to all.

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
20th July, 2007