“Irrespective of whether we be Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Eurasian we are one single nation, the Sri Lankan nation. Long live the Lankan nation!” – Mr. D.S. Senanayake, The first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
For Sri Lanka, February 4th, 2017 marks the 69th year of achieving independence. The commemoration of the day marks the battles of our freedom fighters which led towards victory and it reminds us of the fact that we are first Sri Lankans before any caste or creed. Indeed we celebrate the freedom of our country, but we tend to overshadow the point of origin for the victory of freedom – UNITY. None of the sons of the soil who led the struggles for freedom fought for the rights of the Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or their individual ethnic groups. United they struggled for the rights of the citizenry of the country – Sri Lankans. This in true terms could be defined as national unity.
So what exactly is the interpretation of unity? Singing the national anthem under the flag of Lanka as one nation or picking fights over the choice of language to sing the national anthem?
Does “unity” mean that we all should have the same opinions, likes, and desires? Should our goals, ambitions be the same? This would make us more of a national herd.
Unity should ideally be internal and external. No new born knows the difference between a racial and religious groups. Irrespective of your beliefs and customs, if you smile and play with an infant, they react respectively. So where do we start planting the seeds of differences? When we remove the barriers in our minds about others, then can we express our solidarity externally. When nature doesn’t make a choice to whom it should share its resources with or strike with peril, we waste ample time in building borders and drawing demarcations.
The development of the country lies in the hands and shoulders of its citizens. At least we owe this much to our mother Lanka, to make her proud. Through the past she has been drenched by the blood and tears of her children. As individuals our opinions differ, our destinations are vivid but if we walk together and work together, we could agree on which opinion is best for the nation and make our journeys smoother. This realization should not be postponed. It is either now or never to make the choice of what we want our children to inherit – a barren land on the verge of extinction or a fruitful nation, an example to the world.
Independence in the true sense is to realize the interdependence of a nation. While we admire each other’s dignity, individual contribution, and freedom, at the end of the day, we are interdependent on each other as well. No man can live alone on an island.
Wishing you all a happy independence and hoping you are truly independent in your thoughts and deeds!