Politicians do not spare anything in their quest for power. They will market everything under the sun to promote themselves and win elections. They do not give two hoots about the consequences of their action. After all, that is why they are called politicians!
The Archbishop of Colombo has denounced the use of sacred images of Jesus Christ in political advertisements. What has disturbed him is a recent advert carrying the picture of Christ and the Cross in support of Gen. Sarath Fonseka now in custody.
The Archbishop`s concern is understandable in that the holy must not be dragged into the unholy affairs of greedy sybarites of all hues regardless of their political affiliations. Politics is the preserve of adventurous voluptuaries `angling in all streams for variety of pleasures` and they must be kept reminded of their limits.
However, it is not only politicians who abuse objects of veneration and places of worship for political purposes. In all religions, there are priests who have turned their temples into market places and appendages of political parties. They have no qualms about stooping to the level of delivering political sermons and campaigning for politicians. As much as politicians must not be allowed to sully sacred images for expediency, religious leaders should keep away from power politics.
Politicians are in the habit of making a beeline for the hills to have an audience with the Maha Nayake Theras or they go running to other religious dignitaries, at the drop of a hat. Some of them even present their asset declarations to prelates before elections, though it is the voting public who really need to have a look at those documents. It is not to see religious dignitaries that politicians rush to Kandy or elsewhere with the media in tow but to be seen with them. The Nayake Theras and other high priests should seriously consider denying the political riff-raff photo opportunities which are grossly abused to gain political mileage. These wise holy men should realise that just like the sacred images, they are also being used by wily politicians.
Thinking after leaping
The government has reportedly decided to deny R&B singer Akon permission to enter the country for a show in Colombo, in view of protests against the desecration of a Buddha statue in one of his albums. His scheduled visit sparked a violent demonstration last Monday in Colombo against MTV/Sirasa co-sponsoring the show. The Sri Lanka Tourist Board is also a sponsor.
The sponsors of the event at issue may have taken Akon`s controversial background for granted and surely their intention was far from insulting Buddhism by bringing him here. But, at least the Tourist Board should have known better than to plunge feet first into the project. It should have done some background research before undertaking to sponsor the artiste, especially after a hullabaloo over a beach show it hosted a few months ago.
The Tourist Board is mistaken if it thinks anything goes by way of promoting tourism. Although no room must be left for the emergence of an RSS type culture police in this country the signs of which are sadly visible organisers of events involving foreign artiste should factor in cultural and religious sensitivities of the public, if they are to avoid untoward situations which also have the potential to cast the country in a bad light.
The Akon affair will surely be grist to the mill of the anti-Sri Lankan lobby in the West.