by Thilak S. Fernando

4 February 1948 dawned a new day for 'Ceylon' when it changed from the Colonial rule to an independent sovereignty. A unique factor during the struggle for independence was the Sri Lankan politicians' approach not to shed a single drop of blood in their struggle. A few patriotic political leaders in restoring the self-respect of a nation that had been crushed under the foreign boot of Portuguese, Dutch, and the British over four centuries recorded this very factor as an immeasurable service rendered to the country. Since this historic day, Sri Lanka has been celebrating this day as the anniversary of her Independence continuously. Last Sunday, Sri Lanka commemorated its 53rd anniversary in the new millennium.

Where do we go from here in the next decade or so? To understand this, one needs to trek back a good five decades to know how far we have progressed or deteriorated as an independent country. If one were to start from the post-independent era one thing that is crystal clear is the existence of an entirely new generation - a generation born to a completely ' Independent' country.

The future progress or regress will, therefore, be very much dependent on how this new generation will look at things and conduct their affairs to shape and restore Sri Lanka's rich cultural and traditional heritage and her civilisation spanning over a thousand years.

It is everyone’s hope that in the new millennium re-shaping of the world will take place through a strong and powerful spiritual revolution. In that context Sri Lanka, no doubt, will have her fair share of cleansing up to do. This could lead towards a positive style of governance in the country by a set of enunciate leaders who will be able to understand the human misery and dedicate their work towards alleviation of suffering of the masses. For long years, people in our 'independent' Isle have heard, seen, and witnessed their own kind, from different political hues, promising the sun, the moon, and a better 'tomorrow'. Those few who had the good fortune of experiencing the pre and post independent era will have vivid memories of five decades to relate to their children and grand children about the level of freedom they enjoyed. In such true to life stories they will be relating how some rulers abused power, gagged the freedom of expression and how they witnessed decapitated human bodies burning on road-side-spikes with fetid yellow liquids draining out in the form of melting human body oil!

If all predicted theories in the ‘spiritual world’ are to come true in the new millennium - i.e. the emergence of a Maitree Buddha from a Buddhist view point, coming of a Messiah according to Christianity and Islam, Golden Age according to Hinduism and an Era of Unity, Understanding and Tranquillity which Sri Sathya Sai Baba advocates in his third and final incarnation as Prem Baba - at least benefits of such a spiritual revolution in the world should also have its fair share on Sri Lanka as well.

When this period dawns and tranquillity prevails in Sri Lanka, the evil minds of devils in human bodies could turn away from their barbarity of killing their own human kind or refrain from dragging innocent women, raping, lacerating and leaving the helpless bleeding only to put up fire of anger and pain circulating inside them.

With the opening of the 'spiritual eye', politicians could genuinely work towards harmony and peace against unintelligible chauvinists in our society who will continue to be an obscure hindrance in the name of politics, religion or racism and attempt to take us back further and farther towards a mammoth self- destruction as a nation and the very fabric of our society.

The 'new generation’ born to the ‘second phase’ of Independence, will be shocked to read about their past ancestors' history of violence, war, loss of life, injustice and corruption. They, no doubt, will fail to understand how their own brothers and sisters were murdered and made to float on rivers and lakes! It would be their hope that the ethnic war was a thing in the past and human qualities will prevail to the extent that Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim will be sharing a single pointed brotherhood in the areas of power, government, administration, the country and the men and women alike.

The 'new generation' will expect all Sri Lankans to respect each other once again; all religions to merge to form a powerful Inter-faith lobby rather than becoming dogmatic; teachers to turn professional and discharge their duties to the young in a dedicated manner, rather than being self-seeking and becoming malignant cancers in the society to exert more and more pressure on parents bank accounts and simultaneously taking children’s childhood away insensitively. They would expect clergy to confine to their temples, churches and mosques in propagating their individual religious beliefs and dogmas, and in their capacity to act as genuine advisers to guide rulers, as part of Sri Lanka’s ancestral heritage.

Focusing on Sri Lankans presently living in the UK, one could see how they spell out the frustrations of a community against terrorism, which is tearing off the very fabric of a nation, which has been in peaceful existence for decades. Every sincere heart today bonds with the Sri Lankan Government’s endeavour to send firm and a clear message to Tony Blair to take remedial action to proscribe the LTTE in line with the Britain’s latest Anti-Terrorism Laws without further vacillating and procrastinating, and to follow the example of other nations such as USA, Canada, Australia, India, Malaysia, Russia etc., who have banned this organisation as an international terrorist group.

Terrorism is a ruthless serpent and, when it raises its ugly head, it is not worried about its own kind or anyone else. Consequently, for many years, even the Tamil people have been living in fear of this terrorist element when extortion and coercion started to take place from this very country (UK), while the parents of Tamil youth in the north and east of Sri Lanka were thrown in to a panic and despair when their young were being forcibly mobilised by the LTTE against the will of parents to become cannon fodder.

One area of significant importance that has come into focus during recent times is the enthusiasm displayed and the lead taken by the Sinhala ‘ post independent’ youth (of the second generation of Sri Lankan expatriates in the UK), at times regrettably to the disappointment of a few of the old ranks who were inclined towards publicity rather than ‘in action’!

It is equally encouraging to see so much of effort being put to use by the ‘young blood’ in a constructive manner, individually and as patriotic units, without much exposure for the protection of the Sri Lankan sovereignty and welfare of the society. Like in any society, it is natural to see ripples of intermittent disagreement surfing up; after all, we are all human too! However, one needs to bear in mind, at the end of the day, that it is not who has won the game but how the game was played.

People of Ireland are a good example for Sri Lankans to follow. More than any other nation in the world Irish had suffered out of terrorism and seen the horrors of bloodshed and violence for far too long. Finally, they cried out for a peace formula and common sense seems to breathe actively and seemingly.

History informs us about King Parakramabahu's advice to make use of every drop of water before it is allowed to drain away to the seas. It should, therefore, be every Sri Lankan's dream to be united and enjoy the fruits of our independence to its fullest, even at this late stage, by restoring our land to the renowned legendary paradise Isle.