04th of February 2018 – Independence Day of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is celebrating its 70th Independence Day on 04th of February this year and as a Srilankan citizen whose lived since the 80’s I thought of penning some thoughts about what national independence truly means to me.
With receiving its Independence status after the British Monarchy in 1948, Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon had bloodshed in all other forms, devouring the lives of many who once lived here. The rivalry between ethnics within the country and the discrimination towards minority led Ceylon into a gruesome civil war for almost 30 years.
In my opinion, racism truly has its upper hand over the 22 million citizens of this island nation. Racism has also stemmed into religious upheaval during the past decades. I see no difference of being racially afflicted back in the early 90’s as a child in school, nor as an adult who’s now employed as a professional. Ethnic and religious differences are strongly rooted in our nation. Words are exchanged, comments are made, and if you happen to be the minority among the majority, you do have to live a few days here and there having to tolerate with what comes out from the majority. The least of the minority is afflicted the most with this “deeply unsettled yet peaceful on the surface” scenario in this country. Children are brought up the same way as they were in the 70’s and 80’s giving them a strong identity in their ethnic and religious roots, encouraging evil into little hearts. The perpetrators have no respect, nor do they even fathom the idea of ‘discrimination’ in any form.
And now, I move on to gender discrimination. As a female child, I grew up dreaming of being an astronaut, a scientist or soldier- a title that was ‘thought to be most suitable’ for that of a male child. Why was this? perhaps, I felt in my inmost being that women were treated less and that they too deserved to be an astronaut, a scientist or a soldier. (Maybe it was just put there in my spirit when I was born in to this world). I saw it in the behavior of the adults, the way women were treated in the societies which I grew up in. And then, I realized its not my upbringing, this mentality was not restricted to a particular society or a culture – its global. And it was very normal for an island nation like Sri Lanka, to be so. Men rule the world!
As a Professional I see the need of women more than ever in the workplace. Where have all the qualified capable women in our society gone? They are in hiding in their homes taking care of their children, having other responsibilities or cleaning up someone else’s mess. This does not portray the God given female qualities that will benefit the economy of this country.
By now, you may picture me as a feminist. I am not! But, I feel for my sisters and friends have who are burdened with responsibilities of a woman. Flip the coin, and you will find women heading their households. The civil war has left behind too many women heading households. What they faced with during their lifetime, I do not know and cannot even imagine their frustrations in being the breadwinner of their homes.
Well, back to topic of Independence. Looking at life in general in Sri Lanka for the past 30 years, I mostly feel that we actually don’t have the kind of Independence that we desire or anticipate. We are merely celebrating the liberation from a monarchy – that’s a harsh statement, but I believe it’s the truth. We are still slaves to the very things we have created for ourselves, the religions, the cultures, the way of life etc.
Independence to me will be the day I experience true liberty in our Sri Lankan societies where cultures will have no barriers, religion nor ethnic roots will not interfere with true liberation and camaraderie. Women will be treated equally. Children will be loved and protected. Every child will attend school and have access to excellent basic education. Only Love can give us the kind of liberty we hope for!
This is what I call Independence. After all, we are humans and we were never created to live independent lives; but inter-dependent lives. We need Love! Sri Lanka May Love Find You!
“Let there be loved shared among us – Let there be love in our eyes
May now this love sweep this nation to arise
Give us a fresh understanding of love that is true
Let there be love shared among us – Let there be Love!” (Quote: from a song)