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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Celebrating unity in diversity

Sri Lanka EDITORIAL: "Wednesday, 13 April 2005 - 3:23 AM SL Time
Whatever the conflicts and tribulations, the confusion, the chaos and the sometimes-maddening contradictions, the National New Year is a time to think positive and count our blessings because there is no other way to cope with national despair or depression.

The main and most powerful blessing we need to be conscious of and celebrate as another Aluth Avurudda or Puthiya Andu dawns is the richness of Sri Lanka`s multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-lingual diversity.

At a time like the National New Year we need to renew our commitment not only to accept our diversity but also to respect it and celebrate it. Mother nature itself gives us poignant and powerful lessons on the vast potential and the wonderful harvest we could reap when we accept, respect and celebrate our unity in diversity.

We could look at ourselves, the human body, for the greatest and most important lessons of the wonderful results that come from unity in diversity. We don`t need textbooks, concepts or theories for those lessons but our very lives and nature would show it to us beyond doubt.

Every part of our body is different; the roles and functions are varied. The eye plays its own unique and important role while the nose plays another. The ear also plays a vital role but we could imagine how outrageous or monstrous we would look if our whole face is one big eye, nose or ear. That is the horror of uniformity, but, tragically, many of us have been misguided into seeking such uniformity in our daily lives and relationships among people of different races, religions or cultures. Instead of a tendency or temptation to seek a monstrous uniformity, we could all make a new year resolution to move towards a beautiful and lasting unity in diversity by accepting, respecting and celebrating the diversity in race, religion, language and culture.

Mother Nature, our greatest teacher has more bountiful examples for us in this beautiful April, a time of harvest and holidays, flowers and sweet showers.

Let`s take a flower garden for instance and the most beautiful of all flowers, the roses. The very nature and essence of the flower garden would be the diversity or the different varieties of varying shapes and colours. While the rose is beautiful in itself, it would be ugly and counter-productive if the garden were filled with one rose variety. Unfortunately our distorted minds tend to seek that kind of uniformity and the National New Year is an auspicious time to let go of those one-fact thoughts and hide-bound attitudes.

Not only flower gardens but also even the very core of our country`s, civilizations and economy and agricultural fields provide vast lessons in diversity. While rice is our staple food it would be monstrous and devastating or deadly if our whole country is one big paddy field, because we would all end up with big stomachs overloaded with starch and perhaps drop dead soon.

It is our first National New Year after the worst natural catastrophe in the history of our country - the 26/12 tsunami and the multi-faceted consequence from it including the continuing fears of another tsunami or earthquakes. This first post-tsunami New Year needs to be a time for deep reflection on how fragile life is and how foolish it is to build castles in the sky or sand castles without a solid foundation.

Sri Lankans often boast of four great religions but it seems that like many other countries, we are being swayed or influenced by another monster that is fast taking the place of religion - the market and its core values of self-interest and individualism. The National New Year needs to be a time of honest and humble reflection and acknowledgement that we are caught up in a pigsty or mud hole. We need an individual and collective turning away from self-interest to selflessness, from dishonesty or humbug to honesty and from self-seeking personal agendas to sincerity and sacrificial service for the common good of all."

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