Owl Opinions

Dystopia – the Che Guevara Complex & the Privileged Bubble

‘Fact is stranger than fiction’ my mother used to say. In today’s context of huge upheavals globally and locally, this saying is proving itself to be true time and time again. With a Met Gala that cost 75,000 USD per ticket and a dress code of the Garden of Time amidst the Palestinian-Israel conflict, the dystopian nature of humans and our existence is balancing itself precariously on many aspects.

In Sri Lanka, we have seen the rise of a privileged class at almost the annihilation of the middle class where soaring costs of living, taxes and general instability has left many poor and malnourished. Yet you would not see this if you stepped into any of the hotels, night clubs and places where those with money patronise. Where you see this drop in expendable income is in the small suburban salons, restaurants and in rides with three wheelers and taxis where business owners and sales staff have to supplement their income with a second job.

Many who used to hang out in coffee shops and hotels have taken to visiting each other at home or in cheaper locations. There is a burgeoning presence of the nouveau riche whose lack of finesse is noticeable in their garish display of wealth. As snobbish as it may sound, the saying “You can take the people out of Pettah but you can’t take Pettah out of the people” rings true for this group.

In the midst of this dystopia, from among the privileged there blossoms from time to time the Che Guevaras of the 21st century. Not exactly violent & revolutionary, but more apologetic for themselves and the privilege they enjoy in almost a self loathing and desire to strip away one’s own skin as it were. These over-apologetic types wish to pretend they were born of wattle & daub huts in a rural village when in reality they enjoyed the mansions of the gods in the best seats of Colombo. Their vision for all is one of equality where they will gladly share a pol sambol and rice meal on the floor of a villager’s house and they fancifully assume that this is the same wish of the owner of that house. In reality, if one is to ever speak to a person of low financial means, a majority have a desire and aspiration to do better than their current position. Precious few choose to remain at the same level as their parents. Capitalism is far too tempting for the poor village lad or lass who has grown up eating Palu fruits and Damunu while secretly fantasizing about strawberries and KFC. Telling them to settle for the Palu fruits and Damunu would be social suicide in their eyes whereas the modern day Ches would think it was a gift from their well meaning but delusional humanity.

What we have today is a disproportionate distribution of food and wealth. What we need is fairer systems and structures that do not oppress. The answer to this is not one level for all because human nature is such that not everyone will be satisfied to remain where they are in life. Levelling the playing field is the best one can do but you cannot control how many goals each is going to score. That is left to the individual and somehow a Che Guevara approach is not going to dampen the ambition of those determined to achieve more. Hating one’s social standing and wealth achieves a miserable existence. Instead, what should happen is that the privileged use that to help change policies and establish networks that benefit those who are underprivileged. And if the self loathing prevails, then it is best that they seek the psychological help they richly deserve and can afford.


Meet Lilanka
“what is meant to be comes about of what one does”.
An eclectic personality with a penchant for creativity, Lilanka is an old soul who loves life, laughter and stepping off the beaten track. She finds joy in nature, travelling and venting her existential frustrations via her writing while calming her body with food and her soul with music. Her motto is – “what is meant to be comes about of what one does”.
A collection of eclectic expressions from life according to Lilanka Botejue. From her creative outbursts and passionate views to her love for nature, food, music and archaeology, Owl Muses is an attempt to capture these moments in time.
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