Branding Sri Lanka: Thinking Sri Lankan

| by Shenali Waduge

( January 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) When Sri Lanka united to celebrate the defeat of 30 years of terror, the world ridiculed the way people of all ethnic groups and political parties joined the jubilation to celebrate freedom from terror. The world told Sri Lanka not to indulge in “triumphalism” and people were made to feel it was wrong to celebrate the end of terrorism. Thus, a golden opportunity that brought people together was crushed decisively. It is clear that most of these “reconciliation” acronyms being used currently by outsourced parties supposedly working towards bringing the people of Lanka together has bigger motives and their objectives are far from any desire for genuine reconciliation. Essentially, what we as citizens must remember is that unless we learn to love the nation we are born in and foster relationships among us demarcations on paper have little or no value. With the world closing in on Sri Lanka for varied reasons it is now time for Sri Lankans to think Sri Lankan.
It is imperative that before we move to convincing tourists, investors & even fellow nations about Sri Lanka being a great place, we as Citizens need to work together and resolve to build the nation together. For that we must first be proud to be Sri Lankan. To say we are Sri Lankan without really meaning is unlikely to get us or the nation anywhere.
We are a nation supposed to be independent. How far that is true remains debatable. To live in a democracy means far more than going to vote at the end of a term. Nevertheless, that single exercise leaves citizens doomed for the entirety of the term wherein laws, policies, legislation is passed according to the whims & fancies of those voted in. How far they listen to the voice of the people depends on how united the people project themselves to be and it is imperative that the public are at all times united & not divided. In politics and for all political parties the general rule and their desire is to have the people divided. It is upto the people to change this status quo. The only possibility of that happening is to feel a sense of love towards one nation and to endeavor to protect one’s nation and its sovereign status at any cost. Afterall, Sri Lanka belongs to all of us and not only to a select few! Therefore, there is no need for definitions or to tag behind any political movement for when people are able to see right from wrong – that essentially becomes patriotism.
The message behind this article is the need to inculcate amongst us a sense of pride in Sri Lanka and our own duty towards the future of Sri Lanka. There is no country in the world devoid of troubles, some countries do have far worse records but even in the countries that walk away with the best country awards social crimes does prevail. Therefore, it is unfair to be ridiculing one’s nation thinking that there are better pastures elsewhere. Those that left Sri Lanka ridiculing it do not live in rosy environs. In the US an email suffices to say one is left jobless! The ideal solution would be is to derive ways of how we can lesson the malpractices. There is nothing that is impossible and it is important for us to move away from being pessimistic about turning the country around. No country is doomed forever. For that we must be a little imaginative, more creative and explore a whole range of possibilities on our own & by ourselves. We do not need third parties.
Unlike most countries Sri Lanka has only 3 ethnic groups. Unlike most countries the 2 minority ethnic groups have better living standards. Not many countries will have examples to project the 2 ethnic minorities combined making the majority in the country’s capital which translates to mean that they enjoy economic, social, educational and even political liberties and luxuries. These examples are not to be forgotten and need to be always highlighted whenever accusations of discriminations are thrown against us. If people must humiliate our country let them do so with facts and facts alone.
Living together peacefully is nothing impossible. There is no family that does not experience scuffles or arguments. Yet, we are at a juncture where the country needs to come together behind a single national identity.
If anyone should ask “why should I be proud to be Sri Lankan”? it is best that one answers “why shouldn’t you be?” No one is asking people to pretend to be a patriot or a nationalist. No one is asking people to fly the national flag or shout patriotic slogans & ridicule those they feel are unpatriotic. Patriotism is essentially far more than unwavering loyalty to one’s country. By loyalty it does not mean that we should not question the Government or its policies. Patriotism means far more than what it is made out to be.
Allegiance is not only to the nation – it is also towards the people of Lanka. It cannot be a half hearted attempt. Before setting out on any change campaign we need to obtain answers to questions. Why are we divided? For what reasons are we divided? Who is dividing us & why? Do we want to resolve these divisions or are they affording us opportunities & advantages politically &  individually, why do the Sinhalese feel that there is no ethnic conflict and why do some Tamils proclaim there is an “ethnic conflict”, why are the Tamils rescued by our military reluctant to thank the armed forces for rescuing them? Why do they think twice about thanking the men & women who rescued them? Why are public servants not carrying out their duties as they should, why do political parties continue to create divisions to sustain their political careers….these questions and more need answers.
No nation is free from mistakes, no leader is also free from making mistakes, similarly no individual is perfect and as humans we need to understand the greater picture, the ambiguities and our own need to understand ground realities. The people of Lanka need to be aware that our country with geo-political advantages attracts foreign nations and these nations have found it an easy endeavor to take advantage of internal issues, at times creating and encouraging internal issues as well as funding these issues.
It is time for us to confidently place our cards on the table. We need not live in times of ambiguities. Our politicians need to understand that they need to move away from projecting ambiguous statements politically especially at an international level. As custodians they are bound to ensuring that they keep the sovereignty of our nation in tact. As custodians of the nation they are bound to ensuring that the use facts to project a clear picture and negate all accusations being thrown at us. If countries are aspiring to engulf us it is the duty of those appointed to ensure that we do not compromise our nation at any cost and that does not mean we allow our nation to be served as a piece of cake for anyone’s fancy.
When external forces are able to weaken political parties it is left for the nations people to join in solidarity for the risk of loosing a nation is far greater than petty political differences amongst us. No external force dares to upset a nation that is united. That is why countries are targeted with various ways to divide which facilities the next move to challenge and make demands upon the political party in governance. Rescuing a political party challenged thus should come with the realization of that government that it should not dilly dally with issues that need conclusive solutions. The ugly chapter that has been a curse to our nation needs to be finally concluded and it is imperative that we do not continue to use it for individual or political advantage.
As for us individuals, the question we need to ask is how far we love our country and whether that love is greater than affinity to a political party.
Wake up Sri Lankans are all need to think Sri Lankan…! We need to really around a campaign that would inculcate unity amongst us and encourage a united Sri Lanka and united Sri Lankans.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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