Sri Lanka Having Hit The Crossroads Is In Dire Need Of Fresh Knowledge & Change Of Attitudes 

By Suji Hettiarachchi

Suji Hettiarachchi

Since the independence

We have been talking about the 30-year war every day for the last 10 years since the war ended. Isn’t it time to forget the past and talk about the future? Talk about the politics for the future? No one is sure of what we would achieve by frequently reminding ourselves of the war and how we ended and who did it. Wouldn’t it be nice to not think, speak or write about a subject especially, one that is a source of unhappiness, anxiety and dissatisfaction? When do we focus on our future politics and forward policies? Why do we take ourselves back to the days of war? Some write about the failures since the Independence. Some takes us back to the previous government/s and some talk about failures of the incumbent government. The negativity of such nature will not help the country and the people to move forward and prosper. 

In 1980s, we spoke about western ambivalence towards Asia. The pioneer in this thinking was Late Professor Vin D’Cruz at La Trobe University, Australia who wrote “Australia’s ambivalence towards Asia: Politics, Neo/Post-colonialism, fact/fiction?” – a copy of the book that I treasure now gifted by him. His concern in the book was the inability of Australia to engage with Asia in more creative and positive manner. Now, nearly four decades later, we experience ambivalence towards western counties. The Asia has progressed and developing at an alarming rate. Asia wants the western influence with a distance away from them. 

Globalization

It was opening of the world that gave us the opportunity to advance and reach to the communities around the world. The concept was coined as globalization. The technology advanced the globalization drive to enable and affect the negative and positive impact to the societies. In general, some have benefitted from it and others yet to. Some in the community adores it while some others throw heavy criticism at it. While taking benefits from the openness of the world, very same people criticize it. 

We have been talking about a change that Sri Lanka needs for a long time. As we all know the country can no longer be negative and inconsistent. The time is right to change the course of movement. We are all interconnected and interdependent in many ways than none.  We all wonder what all this fuzz about in the crazy kind of world. There have been many a times inter-marriages, some have set up their businesses around the globe, some people are able to travel to places that they have never gone, At the end of all these, majority are not happy

Sri Lankan political leadership and landscape

Political representation in Parliament of Sri Lanka seems to be proportional to the overall population of 21 million of its citizens. The current parliament includes 29 Tamil parliamentarians, 21 Muslim parliamentarians among its 225-total membership. However, there are politicians who needs to retire soon and if willing, could give their service to the country educating and leading young politicians of the future. If the retiring age of the country is at 60, it would be undoubtedly fair if one rule applies to every citizen of the country. See below the age breakdown of the current members of the Sri Lanka Parliament;

Year Age Total %
1930-1940 89-79 7 3.1
1941-1950 78-69 20 8.9
1951-1960 68-59 51 22.7
78 34.7
1961-1970 58-49 80 35.5
1971-1980 48-39 56 25
1981-1990 38-29 11 4.8
147 65.3
Total 225 100%

The politicians know how badly they are disconnected with the people. Blaming each other will not resolve the issues that the common man is facing today therefore, the only way forward is by connecting and bonding with the ordinary people. Basically, anything in the world has a dichotomy i.e. two sides; right/wrong, good/bad, positive/negative, pro/anti etc. but when multiple views and attitudes get caught in that dichotomy it becomes a ground for confusion, imagination and convulsion for the mentally unstable person.

Recently, John Howard the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia said that ‘we do not have to choose between countries. The United States is, and has been an ally and their trade war with China should not be a factor in Australian politics. Australia must have a good relationship with all the trading partners to me he is promoting what our Buddha taught us the as the middle path. 

We must all believe that we are better together than divided. We must open ourselves to openness, debate, challenge and change determined to win the hearts and minds of people by being a party to them than seeing the common man as to be hood winked. That time has come now for Sri Lanka. Let’s stop hoodwinking people. 

In recent history of Sri Lanka what we see is, manipulation of context to undermine the truth. The result is an alternative version of what we may not like to see or read but we have no choice. The narrative at the end almost certainly reflects what the media wants us to see. Fueling misunderstanding, increasing anger and annoyance among people, over- reaction or miscalculation based on limited or inaccurate information. You must smother everything with doubt. Disinformation is meant simply to sow confusion and fuel conspiracies.

Knowledge and attitude change

It was a timely and welcome sermon at the Buddhist temple in Sydney a few weeks ago delivered by Venerable Mawarala Bhaddiya Thero who explained how we all have embroiled in problems. No one can escape the problems but knowing and accepting them will pave a way to solutions. The Venerable Thero spoke about the value of mutual help with “Namyaseelaya”. People must develop understanding of each other. First, one must understand own self and think of others. Pointing to the fact that Australia had become a peaceful, wealthy nation that he called a ‘Yahapath’ country. How did Australia become so wealthy, prosperous, peaceful country? The time has come to “Teach your relatives in Sri Lanka just that. If one can change 3 relatives, the three million who have left Sri Lanka can change 9 million people”. 

The sermon ended with what Sri Lanka need as it had hit the crossroads. Sri Lanka is in dire need of knowledge and the change of attitudes at every level of the society; people and the institutions. The devotees were asked to invest in “showing the ways to improve and change and giving such knowledge such as how people work here, work in their offices, how people get rid of their rubbish and how they interact with people with complete respect, honesty, openness and compassion. Making them aware by sharing your knowledge and new experience will help change the attitudes in a small way. A little change that we can do today will bring enormous change to the Sri Lankan society”. 

The Venerable Thero continued saying that “people still talk about how western countries exploited poor countries, which must be stopped for the betterment of the country. Such negative connotations will not change anything, such attitudes must be gotten rid of. Thinking wisely, ask yourselves how did these countries develop and become wealthy? With the enormous and abundant natural resources that Sri Lanka has, it can achieve the development that these countries have”, the Thero said. 

In Sri Lanka, people don’t obey rules, no ‘vinaya’ when you are on the road, no vinaya when you are dealing with your own rubbish, people don’t know how to deal with people, these things must be taught at Montessori level. There is so much competition from infant level. We must teach the kids to think of the environment, good and bad values etc. 

The sermon concluded with “Knowledge is the best gift that anyone can give to your homeland. Make them think out of the box. Small changes slowly can bring out the change. The Yahapath things that you have learnt from this country share with your loved ones back home. The knowledge and attitudinal change that is what Sri Lanka needs at this juncture. People in Sri Lanka always think poor, but time has come for them to think rich”. 

It was a well-attended well-thoughtful timely sermon.

Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love” Let’s believe in this!

Source:Colombo Telegraph