The new Sri Lanka, a multi religious nation
Daily Mirror Editorial
Mar 13, 2011

Historically Sri Lanka has been the happy home of four of the world’s living religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. All these religions have values which are significantly useful to building a nation on a solid foundation of lasting peace, justice, equality and equitable distribution of wealth and resources. However most of the leaders of our religious communities are sadly not playing a significant role in nation building.

It is a widely accepted reality that the values of all our religions mean much more than being present and participating in the rituals and devotions. It is high time that like the Archbishop of Canterbury or Archbishop Desmond Tutu of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, the religious leaders of our country spoke out the truth in love by urging the Sri Lankan Government to sincerely participate in nation building by giving an equal place to all and isolating or sideling the extremist and taking the hallowed middle path of understanding and accommodation.

This is also the opportune moment for the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to be implemented. Sadly the defenders of the Government are justifying the delay in doing this saying there are practical problems but well informed insiders say it is more the fear of how some extremist groups within the UPFA might react.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa still enjoying unprecedented popularity in Sri Lanka despite the huge increase in the cost of living and rampant corruption must now courageously act like a statesman and take decisions for the common good of generations to come rather than personal gain or glory at the next election.

Among other measures we need to sing the national anthem in Sinhala and Tamil at important occasions, have a Tamil officer in every police station and encourage children to study all three languages. If our religious leaders can persuade the Government to act on these and other measures, the minorities in Sri Lanka and the world community will realise that the Government is genuine about nation building.

The other area where our religious leaders must get involved with the Government is the current debate on development versus devolution. There is a strong school of thought that for development to be real power sharing is important and development must be from Point Pedro to Dondra Head and not centred on Hambantota.

Our religious leaders must get involved not in party politics but in politics -- the affairs of our people. Party politics is largely bankrupt and religious leaders must not get involved in promoting the personal agendas of any particular party though it might bring some temporary benefit to them.

In this area the leaders of our religions must make the people to be concerned about the affairs of our nation and participate in genuine nation building. Therefore Sri Lanka’s religious communities have a significant role to play to make Sri Lanka what it should be. As for the public, they need to be made aware by the religious leaders that while practising their own religions they must have sincere respect for the religious beliefs of others.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka