The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

This is what 'proper' Buddhist girls and boys should be like:

They should have no interest in the opposite sex - never mind the fact that from the time a girl starts menstruating, her body is saying that it is readying itself to bear children, and likewise for boys, except that they don't menstruate.

In effect, we teach a legion of children to rebel against all natural physical reactions of their body, and follow a puritanical code of moral conduct that has been deemed 'proper' & 'Buddhist'.

To add to this dangerous foundation, we deny them any kind of entertainment, and the sole focus is studies. The entertainment available is so 'un-Buddhist', anyway. Sports or music/drama is encouraged only for competitive purposes.

Anyone elder to you is always right - dissent or argument is unheard of (again, that is part of being a 'good Buddhist').

Parenting is akin to taming a wild animal - you first break the animal's spirit. Fear, fear and more fear is the way to go. 'Discipline', a word much bandied today, is the be all and end all of life. Heaven forbid you disappoint your parents - oh the shock, the humiliation of it all!

Oh yeah, if you can't handle the pressure of it all (especially the humiliation) at the tender age of 14, don't think for a moment that this country will understand your suicide, because it won't.

Girls shouldn't wear anything short, or sleeveless, or trousers, because that is just not the way of the true Buddhist.

Porn - a concept imported exclusively from the West - is a strict no-no. Boys and girls being attracted to one another(and homosexual attraction even more so) is so unnatural. Curiosity about sex, the same sex or the opposite sex could bring our pristine Buddhist culture crashing down in no time. Likewise the mere hint of violence, usually found on TV.

What has our society turned into - and how on earth is this, ultra-rigid, puritanical, neo fascist society justified in the name of Buddhism?

Wasn't it in this 'pure' Buddhist culture of ours that women walked around bare-bodied? Where kings had concubines? Where almost all our historic sites depict 'artistic' porn, albeit with over-weight women?

From my knowledge of Buddhism, this puritanical crap has nothing to do with it. Buddhism does not preach how one should dress, what relations with the opposite sex should consist of or any such gobbledygook.

So what is our clergy and our politicians on about? Have they confused Buddhism with the Taliban?

All I know is, in their quest to protect this 'pure Buddhist culture' of Sri Lanka, they are doing irreparable social harm, and they are doing more harm to Buddhism than any 'outsider' could ever even dream of doing...hold on, Afghanistan, we're right behind ya!

This incident happened about 4 weeks ago, but I've been way too busy to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) till now.

I was being driven to Colombo, and the driver had put on some Sinhalese radio station. Initially, none of us paid too much attention (that's father, mother, sister, driver & moi).

However, our collective attention was soon transfixed. The DJ (is that the right term these days?) had a voice like Wimal Weerawansa at a May Day rally, and was not so much speaking as he was screaming. The topic (from what I gathered at this initial stage) was why rapists and pedophiles were not given the death sentence, and frequently had their jail terms reduced only to commit even more heinous crimes when they were released.

While that is a topic in and of itself, it is not my purpose to discuss it here today.

Callers (mostly, I noted, from outstation) kept calling in, and their point, along with the host, seemed to be as follows: if Mahinda Rajapakse could ignore international opinion and take on the LTTE, why can't he implement the death penalty?

At this point (maybe fifteen or twenty minutes from when I started paying attention) I figured this was yet another bout of 'lets bash up our president/government', a seemingly popular game in Sri Lanka.

But noooooooooooooooo, that was merely the appetizer. The host had worked himself up to a rabid frenzy by now, and the whole show was sounding way worse than a May Day rally. He had moved away from the president and the death penalty, and was asking his listeners to look at the 'real' reason as to why such crimes were taking place in Sri Lanka, a country with a rich, peaceful, Buddhist culture...(add as many phony adjectives as you see fit - they were all mentioned at some point).

When no listener seemed wise enough to crack the code, he started dropping helpful clues. The first clue (aptly enough), was CSI and its host, cable TV. Such a so-terrible programme, that CSI is, he said. Not only is it violent, that is how our criminals learn to commit violent crimes and get away with it.

Get it? They studiously watch CSI every night, and learn the art of committing the perfect murder.

Pity X-Files was no longer running - we could've all blamed the aliens and then be done with it.

At any rate, cable TV was apparently such a terrible, violent influence, and naturally, violence such as that found in CSI could have only been imported from the West.

If you thought that was the end of it, you're in for a surprise. Because, you see, CSI only shows us how to commit the most grizzliest of crimes and get away with it. But the need to commit such crimes must have come from somewhere, yes?

Yes. Most emphatically. We were now told how a culture as innocent as ours had been brainwashed by Indian and Western programmes, that have introduced lust to us. 'Kaamaya' was the word used; lust I feel is the closest English translation.

Scantily dressed women dancing to Hindi songs, a woman in any Western entertainment number of your choice, and the like were all harming our innocent youth, who, apparently would not have known what lust, sex, porn or even the opposite sex was if not for these evil instruments of destruction.

He went on and on and on in this vein, and had soon whipped up enough adrenaline in his regular audience so that they started calling up one by one, all agreeing with him, some even going to the extent of telling him how and where teenage boys buy porn (yeah, I wonder how they know).

The internet soon joined the bandwagon of this particular axis of evil -I found it particularly amusing when the host actually mentioned a porn site (tell me, how did such a holy man come across Naughty America ?)

The cure, naturally, was to ban cable TV, Hindi movies, Hollywood movies, Hollywood magazines, mobile phones, the internet, DVDs, VCDs and such. Because you see, Sri Lankan men, Sri Lankan women, Sri Lankan would-be pedophiles, Sri Lankan would-be rapists and teenagers in general, do not know what lust is. It is apparently not a natural, physical sensation, but an abnormal, evil, imported concept from the West (mostly, and the rest from India).

When I wasn't frothing at what this goon was preaching to the masses, I was actually amused by the sheer absurdity of the notions he was peddling. By his count, the Sigirya frescoes -in fact, the whole concept of Sigiriya, given the violence and mayhem that gave birth to it - could not have been created by any Sri Lankan. Maybe it was done by the Indians. Or the Brits. Or those aliens Mulder & Scully kept running after.

And I'm guessing that till Western (and Indian) cinematic influences came to this holy island, we picked our babies of Baby Trees, because since lust is such an alien concept to us, how on earth would our forefathers ever have had sex? Or maybe it was asexual reproduction, like amoeba. Which seems a more likely explanation, and would directly explain our host's genealogy.

Had this radio station actually advertised itself during the time I was listening, I would have actually mentioned it here. And had they given out their hot-line number, I would have surely called up, and told that dim-witted, amoeba-origined host exactly what I thought. But I had no such luck, and mercifully, I was dropped off first, or there's no telling how scarred the driver may have been, hearing my thoughts on the topic.

I can only describe the host (and the show) in the same words the TIME magazine used to describe Ayatollah Khomeini -"a fanatic whose judgments are harsh, reasoning bizarre and conclusions surreal".

No wonder our society is the puritanical mess that it is. What with only a handful of co-ed schools, maniacal media figures like this, and a fervent belief that our 'pure' and 'innocent' and 'lust-free' culture trumps that of the rest of the civilised world, I shudder to think what our youth and children will turn into.

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Be true to your heart, and true to your conscience.

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