Volume Two of the Sarath Amunugama Autobiography – The Island.lk

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Reviewed by Nigel Hatch P.C.
In volume II of his autobiography “TO PARIS AND BACK” Dr. Sarath Amunugama (SA) covers the period 1977 to 1990 aptly sub titled “The JRJ Years”. He covers a momentous period in the nation’s history and in his own career: JR Jayewardene’s (JRJ) landslide victory in 1977 and the Second Republican constitution which established the executive presidency, the introduction of the open economy, his appointment at 37 as the youngest Permanent Secretary in 1977 and his enduring contributions to the development of broadcasting and the introduction of TV and tourism including the investment by international hotel chains.
Amunugama who worked closely with President Jayewardene (JRJ) as permanent secretary to the Ministries of Information and Broadcasting and State, says that as a social scientist he was fascinated by the JRJ persona and wishes to present “a sympathetic portrayal” of JRJ who he correctly identifies as an important political leader. His breakdown of JRJ’s zeitgeist is a fascinating read-
“Sri Lanka has not seen a leader of the calibre of JRJ” – the public and private faces of this enigmatic politician. SA tells his readers that JRJ and his brother Harry (HWJ) read every book on their heroes Disraeli and Napoleon. The reviewer recalls that when apprenticing with Sam Kadirgamar QC the latter and HWJ would phone each other and indulge in one upmanship about their latest acquisitions on Napoleon! But SA does not view JRJ through rose tinted glasses and states “a cynical interpretation of legal provisions led JRJ and his supporters to many undemocratic acts and violations of human rights…. Amendments to the Constitution to solve parochial political issues led to the debasement of the constitution and the presidency”.
Amunugama takes the reader through the deprivation of Mrs. Bandaranaike’s civic rights in 1980 which pushed the SLFP into an extreme Sinhala nationalist position and the emasculation of the opposition (“a blunder which changed the political landscape of this country”), the rise of Cyril Matthew with JRJ’s blessing and the July 1983 riots which worsened ethnic tensions in the country which inevitably led to disenchantment in India under Indira Gandhi and the rise of Tamil militancy in the wider context of the vicissitudes in Indo-Lankan relations culminating in the Indo-Lankan Accord of 1987 and the 13th Amendment which devolved power, and the violence unleashed by the JVP. JRJ’s tactics led to “the country slipping into a quagmire of regional misunderstandings and domestic ethnic conflict which finally destabilized the country for three decades and blunted the trajectory of economic growth which had stared with much promise in 1977”. Whilst the Singapore model animated policy makers SA wryly notes that the Singapore leadership looked upon SL as a failed State.
He knew and writes about the other leading personalities in the UNP cabinet of JRJ post 1977 and opines that it was “the most competent cabinet of ministers in modern times”–inter alia R. Premadasa who became Prime Minister, Ronnie De Mel in Finance, Lalith Athulathmudali in Trade and Shipping, Gamini Dissanayake in Mahaweli development and Anandatissa de Alwis as Minister of State. In appointing Premadasa as PM, JRJ “sent a strong signal that the UNP was merit based and not kinship and caste based as it was under the Senanayakes”.
But he stoically notes that after the LTTE assassinated many of these leaders, the UNP “fell into the hands of mediocrities”. SA also documents the ‘revenge’ factor in Sri Lankan politics -JRJ against Mrs. B for having briefly imprisoned his son during the 1971 insurrection, Gamini Dissanayake’s (GD) contretemps with Gamini Athukorala who snitched to JRJ that the former secretly met Hector Kobbekaduwa in an attempt to stave off the deprivation of Mrs. B’s civic rights and GD/Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) conflict after the latter was defeated by one vote in the leadership contest in the UNP consequent upon the assassination of President Premadasa; and the sabotage of GD’s presidential election bid. Readers are also given insights into the background of many causes celebres which were hitherto not in the public domain. Profiles of leading advisors to JRJ including GVP Samarasinghe and Esmond Wickremesinghe add to the memoir.
Nevertheless this aspect of the memoir, to the reviewer, compels a reappraisal of the executive presidency introduced by JRJ in the Second Republican Constitution 1978. As SA reminds us JRJ himself saw the presidency as a continuation of a long line of a Sinhalese Buddhist monarchy of over 2500 years. But as a modernist he told the Buddhist clergy (sangha) who wanted to discuss ethnic relations with him “to mind their own business just as he did not advise then on sangha matters”. The rationale of this political construct namely, executive stability unaffected by the vicissitudes of parliamentary change, rapid economic growth with an open economy, and managing of ethnic tensions has proved elusive.
Apart from the initial growth spurt of 8-9% between 1977 to 1980 the anticipated economic takeoff did not materialize primarily due to the protracted war with the LTTE which ended with its military defeat in 2009. Despite the intransigence of the LTTE in arriving at a negotiated settlement an omnipotent presidency was incapable of finding a solution. Ethnic tensions still remain particularly due to the triumphalist posturing post 2009 and attacks directed at the Muslim minority, an extremist section of which inexplicably attacked churches in 2019. To date, the Catholic church has been critical about the failure to ascertain the mastermind behind this and a concomitant lack of accountability.
The national economy has been beggared due to incompetent leadership by Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was ousted from office by a mass movement against rampant corruption and cronyism and a clamour for a systemic change. Financial scandals and corruption are legion – e,g. the bond scandal, corpulent commissions by Ministers with little or no accountability despite specialized Commissions to investigate them. Like the mafia there is “omerta” or a wow of silence with no state or private sector official prepared to expose corruption. Anandatissa de Alwis once nonchalantly stated in the old Parliament (now the Presidential Secretariat) that the magnitude of corruption would inevitably rise under an open economy!
The abolition of the Executive Presidency which Amunugama notes many presidential aspirants undertook but never delivered on is topical again. Ironically Ranil Wickremesinghe a kinsman of JRJ who was inducted into national politics in 1977 is now ensconced as President reliant on a parliamentary majority of the Rajapaksa family dominated SLPP which has lost political legitimacy. The country crippled under the yoke of a lack of foreign exchange, fuel, and medicines and crippling inflation yearns for accountability for economic mismanagement and the return of allegedly stolen billions, parked in foreign safe havens. Will Wickremesinghe enjoying the presidential levers of power be able to deliver on forging a government of national unity, restoring economic stability, accountability and recovery of stolen assets?
A striking feature of this memoir is Amunugama’s recounting of his experiences in foreign countries. He was part of a delegation to China led by Esmond W as the post 1977 Chinese leadership were keen on close relations with the JRJ regime despite close ties with Mrs. B’s governments from 1960-65 and 1970-77. There is a discernible sense of admiration for the CCP during this era who were moving away from the failed “cultural revolution” and the “Great Leap forward” under Mao.
Amunugama’s insights are fascinating as the reviewer around the same time as a student contributed an article to the STC magazine eulogizing Chou-en-Lai. Amunugama’s interactions with the political, business and media elite in India after Rajiv Gandhi became PM in an attempt to find a solution to the ethnic crisis are also a compelling read.
SA’s love of books and culture is reflected strongly. Apart from his promotion of local artistes on the airways he writes poignantly of witnessing the maestro Ravi Shankar’s last performance in Washington. He records the appreciation received from Ediriweera Sarachchandra, Pandith Amaradeva and the farewell from the staff of the left oriented Government Press when he retired prematurely from public service in 1982 to accept overseas assignments. But, whilst he takes his reader through many cities that he travelled and worked in, Paris was his true love and the memoir will delight even the most jaded traveler as did his reflections of Berlin in Volume I.
A good memoir can be difficult to accomplish. Oft times after reading an autobiography one is left with no real sense of the spirit, which is the life, of the subject. This cannot be said of SA’s memoir. His erudition, professionalism, integrity and strong work ethic as a results oriented individual comes across seamlessly. He provides a deeper contextual insight into leading political personalities and events, including their misadventures which he does not fail to record, reflecting his academic training in sociology and economics. He writes lucidly with a wry wit ( e.g.- a senior grandee of the UNP was moved out from the cabinet to Speaker “a post which had much prestige but no tenders” !; later describing self-flagellation with birch branches whilst experiencing an authentic Finnish sauna “though fearful at first I found this invigorating and the body was made ready for large gulps of Finnish beer which was sucked up by my tormented body”) and an unerring eye for detail. In these pages I found references to many whom the reviewer has known – including Sam Wijesinha who SA identifies as a trusted advisor of R. Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayake who in fact introduced me to SA (recounted more fully in my article in the Sarath Amunugama ‘Festschrift’ in 2010), Lalith Athulathmudali and Ronnie de Mel.
This volume builds on volume I and is a rich tapestry of the life and times of a brilliant and now preeminent elder statesman whose sagacity and involvement in national affairs is sorely missed. This autobiography will undoubtedly be an indispensable reference for the contemporary history of Sri Lanka.

The Art of Dissent: The Aragalaya showcased the most creative form of protest

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I had met, listened to, read, and spoken to Elmo Jayawardena. Admired him very much too. He invariably brought his wife into any public address he made or personal conversation. Hence my emails conveyed my regards to Dil though I had not met her. Then I did. I invited the two of them to visit and as she stood in my doorway smiling so friendly, I immediately warmed to her. I felt she was a friend I knew so well. I was struck by the fact that there was no remarkably outstanding facial feature in Dil but she was truly beautiful, very beautiful. I surmised her loveliness was because her warm and generous personality shone through. She gives the impression of sincere friendliness and puts one at ease.
Elmo decided to give his beloved spouse a Christmas gift of appreciation. I wanted to be part of it. Thus we decided to surprise Dil with an article in the Sunday Island. Elmo was a mite skeptical since Dil shies away from publicity and avoids the limelight. But I said a little bit of shyness suffered is worth a surprise that should turn pleasant. So here goes. I need input, I said, and Elmo wrote around and my goodness, I was stormed under a deluge of messages of heartfelt praise. Some were personal friends; some who worked in CandleAid; others who had been helped by Elmo and Dil; and one was their daughter Dineli who said she could retail reams about her mother.
The person
Dilrukshi de Mel was made to meet Elmo on the fringe of a basketball court. Priya Cooray, close family friend supplied the details. “Eie Priya, umba ada Dil Akkava geneng”. Typical Elmo command. It was to the Moratuwa YWCA to watch him play basketball. Priya adds it was to show off his games’ prowess; and so Priya took Dil on the pillion of his bike. “Dil watched with amusement and blushes, hearing all the sudda Sinhala accompanied by rude gestures of the big boys at play.” This was in the early ‘70s when Dil was working in the Central Bank and Elmo was training to be a pilot. Dil reciprocated Elmo’s youthful advances with the admission she was attracted to him. So developed love between them which has grown deeper and stronger in the 48 years they have been married. (Elmo’s cryptic and blush-producing comment is that she married this “Spherical bastard who adores her.” They have been devoted to each other and thence his success as a prestigious pilot and their combined work to help the less fortunate. They have daughter Dineli, son Mevan, and four grandchildren who adore her as she adores them.
This great and good woman seems to be the wind beneath Elmo’s wings and those wings were of a most prestigious pilot and trainer of Air Lanka and Singapore Airlines. He acknowledges that he owes all to his wife and adds she is an excellent communicator and a silent worker committed to achieving results without caring who gets the credit. She edits everything he writes, whether a novel or a report. “She is exceptionally kind to the poor. I have never met anyone who did not or does not like her.”
Dil was a Founder Director of The Association of Lighting a Candle – AFLAC in 1994 which evolved to CandleAid in 2007. She has been its Education Director for 27 years and currently counts more than 1,000 students on sponsorship. She handles all admin matters and heads the Planning Committee alongside Elmo.
Others’ opinions
Priya Cooray included this in his lengthy praise of Dil. “Every time adversity struck me her soul uplifted me with so much of spiritual strength, faith, and hope. She has been an angel on earth for me, continuing some unfinished business God has left in her hands.
“It is what Dil Akka does to reflect God’s love for mankind that makes me realize how wonderfully blessed I am, especially when we come together with Elmo to serve the needy. It has been a wonderful journey and an immense pleasure to work with her though I could hardly keep up with her pace. Just like her man, when working for the needy or for anyone, it is never a worry to her when the sun rises or when it dives beneath the horizon; she goes on. ‘Busy as a bee’ she says with appreciation. The terms like sacrifice, dedication and commitment are words too small to be applied to her; she is much more.
“Before one of my important decisions in life she wrote: ‘I have not forgotten that you are going tomorrow to Algeria – and you are going into a sort of a climax – but I fear not for you, as God will be your protector – have prayed for you much’. I survived Algeria and she protected me all the way with her prayers.   I will never forget what she once said: ‘Don’t tell God how big your problem is but tell your problem how big God is’. That is her, my Guardian Angel.”
Dhananath Fernando who started helping Elmo with swimming for young ones, came under his and Dil’s protective and promoting guidance. He is committed and keen on any undertaking, thus he is now CEO of Advocata Sri Lanka. He was recently in the US having won an Eisenhower Fellowship. He was also awarded $100,000 for Advocata as the Templeton Award for this year, which he personally received in New York.
He wrote thus: “Aunty Dil is one of the most kind hearted people I have ever met. My mentor Captain Elmo calls her ‘Captain of the Captain’ or ‘CEO of the CEO’ which honour she truly deserves. I have witnessed myself what we see most inside of the award winning author Elmo Jayawardena, which is actually Dil Jayawardena. She is so humble to always be backstage, making Elmo Jayawardena perfect on public stage. I often think the Picasso of Elmo is none other than Dil.
“She has been very influential in my life too. She spent time improving my English. She has the incredible ability to encourage people. She kept us in her prayers and thoughts for the longest time I can recall. She truly cares about people and it just comes from the bottom of her heart. I have witnessed many a time how she goes completely out of her way to help people in need. She cannot sleep when someone is in trouble. I have also noted how she conducts herself: so natural, simple and humble. Though CandleAid is known as Capt Jayawardena’s brainchild and organization, the engine and live-wire both are Dil J.

“Capt Elmo is an award winning author but I bet my last rupee that he will not be able to write a book or an essay without her help. She is his greatest critic and pretty much the creator as well as the supporter of everything he undertakes. That’s the Horekale interpretation.”
“Capt Wilhelm Dias and his German wife Sabine are very close family friends,” Elmo wrote as a preface to what Sabine Dias sent me. “She has been the international coordinator of the CandleAid cancer programme for more than 20 years. She certainly is from the top shelf.”
Sabine wrote: “Dil is one of my closest, dearest friends for more than 20 years. She has been my rock and constant in good and sad times. She is family to me. She works tirelessly for the poor and anyone who is in need, sacrificing her time and life to help others and I do really admire that in her. She is my hero!”
Her work
I am certain readers know of CandleAid. However I include here a very brief introduction since it is Dil who manages the entire outfit: office, accounts, programmes, coordination, with of course Elmo calling the shots, as it were. It is written by Elmo.
” CandleAid is the most important thing I did in my life. The Organization helps people in need, irrespective of what race they belong to and which God they worship. We may not have moved mountains, but we did level a few anthills through the years. There were many Starfish we picked from the beach and threw back to the sea.”
Here again I needs must comment. Men plan; women execute. That is my maxim noticed as true several times over. Elmo may use a choice Sinhala word or two on me, but I must give expression to my impression. A baby is made with mere input from a man but the woman carries the foetus for nine months, sometimes with suffering, and with immense pain brings forth to life a baby. The task of bringing up the child mostly devolves on her. Just so a man gets a brilliant idea and the work roosts on a woman – most often spouse. Elmo probably proclaimed in the 1990s: “We have spare time now and are financially OK, So let’s help the underprivileged.” Super duper idea! Who did the ground work and carried it through? Dil.
There really are hundreds, nay thousands, who praise Dil and love and admire her. Some owe their successes to her; some gratitude for her kind empathy that pulled them through difficulties. A few may even owe their mental well being to this kind, affectionate woman who remains simple, dedicated to God, work, family and friends
by Capt. Elmo Jayawardena
I remember a Christmas a long time ago. I was in my teens; my father was unemployed and things at home were really bad. We were practically poorer than anybody else I knew. But Christmas came the same way, the winds blowing cool as the month changed from November to December. Shops were getting their fill of parent Santa Clauses. The quantum of the celebration in every home was relative to the bulge of the family purse. People were getting ready to have a bash at the birth of Christ, a two thousand year old festivity that had its humble beginnings in an unknown obscure manger, in the even more obscure Palestinian town called Bethlehem.
We did not have any money. But that didn’t stop us from doing what little we could to brighten our own Christmas. I remember our Christmas tree; this was no beautiful pine in leafy green with the special pine smell. No chiming little golden bells. Our tree had no twinkling lights either, nor any gaily coloured tinsel. There were no miniature angels with harps and halos. Our Christmas tree was a Jambu branch. We stripped the leaves off and erected it in an old Nespray tin filled with sand. The tin itself was covered with coloured paper.
What we hung on the Jambu branch is still vivid in my memory; little meaningless things, anything that came to hand that looked hangable. That was our Christmas decor. They hung and swung on the Jambu branch, all sizes and all colours, all totally valueless, acting merely as compensation for the tree’s emptiness. We even tucked small balls of cotton wool between the twigs to depict snow. Man, didn’t we have imagination!
We had Christmas cake too, our cake was kattabibikkan, which my mother made out of treacle and coconut. It tasted all right if your palate wasn’t fussy. I guess real Christmas cake was a patent of the rich. Maybe that is why they called it rich cake.
We had this little crib, a plastic crib (I fail to recall where we got it from) It was the size of a little shoe box. The crib had a musical machine which when wound played the chimes of silent night. But there was a slight problem. It had no speed control. When it was fully wound it played silent night at Rock ‘n Roll speed and as the winding came to an end it dragged like a duet between Domingo and Pavoroti. This little plastic crib was the pride of our Christmas decorations. When someone came to the house one of us would run and wind the crib and we listened to the little chimes at varying speeds as if the very heavens were singing them for us.
I remember that Christmas very clearly. We never went to church as a family. My father had left the fold of the faithful and my mother too was on her way out. We, the children, each trudged to church on our own, solitary celebrants of Christmas. That night I was getting ready to go to church. I looked for something to wear that would be reasonably acceptable to the glittering social standard of the midnight church service.
The only pair of trousers I had was made of jungle khaki, a green material that was somewhat of a refined version of what the soldiers wore in the military. It looked all right if the lights were not too bright, but the church was like Flushing Meadows, lit like a tennis court. No way could I hide there in jungle khaki. I felt ashamed; I felt the need to be better dressed. So I folded the trouser and went back to sleep. No church, no worship, no clothes to go. That was my Christmas.
In the morning I went to church, jungle khaki clad. The early morning mass was usually attended by the lesser children of God. One could hold his own there even in jungle khaki.
Today when I look back, I kind of feel awkward. I feel that I let myself down by not going to church in whatever I had to wear. I feel ashamed that I didn’t have it in me to stand and worship God with people who wore their best. I feel ashamed to think that I valued myself so little. But then, that was a long time ago, in another world. It was a sad and timid world of the poor that I was part of; I was too young to realize at that time that there was much more to men and women than the clothes they wore.
Nowadays when I go to church on Christmas day I make sure I am ordinarily dressed. Sometime it may appear a foolish gesture. I do not question the validity or reason. I know some people wonder why I always wear rubber slippers to church. There are no explanations needed. It is very personal. I am thinking of someone like me in my jungle khaki days, someone without proper clothes. Perhaps he may be able to shed a shred of his shame seeing me in church with him, sharing the embarrassment of his attire.
I know there are so many people today like I was yesterday. People who do not have the means to celebrate the birth of Christ. They have children who believe in Santa Clause’s generosity and write meaningless letters that never gets replied. There are those who erect Jambu branch Christmas trees and hang stupid things to swing. There are those who eat kattabibikkan and pretend it is rich cake. There are people who avoid church and children who select lesser services to hide their shame. We as Christians at times forget the unimaginable agony suffered at Christmas by the less fortunate.
Unfortunately there aren’t that many people who have seen both sides of the coin, the poor side and the better off side. I call them the people from the third side of the coin. The ones who have seen poverty at its extreme and then had managed to drag themselves out of the mire. They are the ones who know the dilemma and the agony of life’s multiple manifestations of poverty. They are the ones who have a duty to voice an awareness, specially at times that are known to embarrass the less fortunate.
This year too, I will go to church dressed up in my almost jungle khaki trousers. I’ll wear my slippers, perhaps look a bit ridiculous. I’d rather be that than forget my own awkward experience and dress in my best.
I would appreciate if these lines I write are read in the context it is written. There is no criticism here, nor any form of anyone’s condemnation. I believe that those of us who are on the “third side” should make their own narrations, to tell about the side we left behind, the side that suffers in silence. They too are entitled to the joys and blessings of Christmas. Maybe what I have written will influence a few, perhaps even one, to follow me to church attired in a manner that creates no difference. I like to think that this simple gesture would help some young man sitting in a corner, in jungle khaki trousers, feel that he is not cornered.
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By Myron J. Pereira
(UCAN) Like all great festivals, Christmas has many traditions, not just one. These traditions come to us through different sources, some of them oral, others written — like the Gospel accounts.Some of these customs are religious — such as the Midnight Mass, the Christmas Crib and carol singing. Still, others are secular — like the special foods associated with Christmas, and forms of socializing and gift-giving.
Thus it is with all great feasts, which have both a religious core and a social expression. And usually, it’s the social expression which dominates.At its core, the Christmas story is about the birth of a child, presented to us in various ways in the Gospels.
There is the all too familiar story of the Annunciation to Mary in Luke (1.26), and the less familiar — but as significant — narrative of the Annunciation to Joseph in Matthew (1.18). The birth of the Christ Child in Bethlehem (in Luke, ch. 2) is followed by the adoration of the shepherds.The birth of the Christ Child in Matthew (ch. 2) is followed by his “epiphany” (manifestation) to the world in the persons of the Magi — a story set amid intrigue, persecution, flight across borders and genocide.
Four stories, four traditions, each with a viewpoint of its own, pointing us to different aspects of the Christ birth story.There are also more “secular” stories about Christmas which emphasize yuletide and winter, pine trees and Santa Claus.
They have a greater popular appeal, for today Christmas has become a holiday season for all, an occasion for giving gifts, eating and drinking, and all kinds of boisterous revelry.In many ways the feast has been “secularized,” and so become more universally acceptable.
On the other hand, the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth all share in a magical, otherworldly quality (angels, appearances in dreams, the predominance of women, mysterious visitors) which is at variance with our skeptical, empirical age.The Gospels share the mythopoetic ambiance of an earlier age, and their language is largely symbolic.
Modern believers — when they are not wholly agnostic — like to think that symbols belong to the primitive past of humankind, something which we have long put behind us.Such naivete ignores the fact that firstly, all language is symbolic, in as much as we use letters and ciphers to stand for more complex realities.In fact, the most universal visual medium of our age — cinema — has created a powerful system of communicative symbols which cuts across geographical and generational boundaries in its outreach.
And yet, the Christmas story, ancient as it is, highlights three issues of contemporary relevance.
* “Good news to the poor.” To the poor, everything is usually bad news. But Jesus changes this convention. Born in a stable, his birth is proclaimed first of all to poor shepherds. In later life, his ministry is directed first of all to the poor and the sick.
We learn from him how to accompany the poor, the sick and the broken in society.
* “Wise men from the East.” Inter-faith relations are the need of the hour. How to proclaim the presence of Christ to people of other faiths and cultures? How to listen to “stories of faith” from other cultures with attention and respect?
For this we need to “demythologize” our faith — that is, to take a critical look at the cultural aspects of our faith, change them if necessary, and reinterpret them for a new age.This often becomes a source of pain and confusion, loss and denial.
* “Take the child and his mother, and flee…” The refugee problem, the displacement of peoples because of employment and persecution, is arguably one of the biggest challenges in today’s world, and increases with every passing year.
The more we see ourselves as a global community (Olympics, UN, World Cup, tourism), the more we need also to cope with those who create barriers for the “other” — based on race, religion, gender and economic class.There’s a tension here which is not easily resolved.
* The birth of a child in an age of contraception. “The birth of every child shows that God has not given up on this world” (Tagore). The more technologically advanced a society becomes, the more its fertility rates drop. Childlessness, a curse in ancient times, is seen today as a preferred option, nay, a blessing.
This is because the focus in marriage has shifted from family and progeny to the mutual enrichment of the partners in a relationship.
Note, I do not say, the “married couple” because less and less is permanence in marriage held to be a value. What attracts our peers rather, is the freedom to engage and disengage in sexual relationships, which contributes to greater well-being.
While this may be seen as a positive gain for women, who have been the oppressed party in patriarchal marriage systems for centuries and across cultures, no doubt this changes society such as we have known it.So, to approach the feast of Christmas in a truly mature way, we need to move from preoccupation with external events and celebrations, and to focus on what the feast says to our heart — that secret place, the core of our being, the place of our secret desires, fears and anxieties, where we are healed, where we are saved.
Here the many stories of Christmas may dissolve into just one, a story which speaks to us, bringing us peace and grace. For this ultimately is why Christ was born.Jesuit Father Myron J. Pereira, based in Mumbai, has spent more than five decades as an academic, journalist, editor and writer of fiction. He contributes regularly to UCA News on religious and socio-cultural topics.

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