A new decade has dawned. Just like the one that passed and the one before, the fate of the third decade of the new millennium also remains unpredictable.
The formal withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, on January 31 and the United States Presidential Election fixed for November 3 are the key events awaiting the world in the first year of the new decade.
As for sports, there’s the Tokyo Summer Olympics to be held in July. In Sri Lanka, the people will cast their ballots at the next General Elections which is likely to be won by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna re-installing Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the next PM.
Globally the first two decades of this millennium were marred by consumerism and superficial values resulting in greater damage to planet earth and the mental well-being of those who inhabit it. In 2019 Sri Lanka was declared second among the countries most affected by extreme weather events in 20 years since 1998. Only the Caribbean island Puerto Rico was ahead of us in the Global Climate Risk Index. Last two weeks saw how flash floods that ravaged the North Central Province indicating the trend of extreme weather patterns is likely to continue.
Whatever the politicians do or not, and whatever they promise Sri Lanka’s people need to act as responsible citizens and play the role they should in vital issues such as poverty alleviation, climate change or global warming and the principle of peaceful conflict resolution through dialogue without resorting to war or violence. Without gradual poverty alleviation, the government is likely to make little headway in solving other crises as they cannot expect support from families that find it difficult to obtain their basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, education and health facilities.
The government must ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources while encouraging the people to embrace the values of a simple and humble lifestyle so that they could save more and therefore share more with the needy people. For this to happen, political leaders need to set an example. They need to willingly and voluntarily reject big luxury mansions, duty-free bulletproof vehicles, other perks and privileges which the sovereign people are not entitled to.
The Buddha Dhamma also promotes the simple and humble lifestyle of ‘Allpechchathawaya’ and politicians need to set the example because those who live by the Dhamma are protected by the Dhamma.
If politicians set the right example and bring about gradual poverty alleviation then the sovereign people will willingly get involved in solving other crises like climate change. While government and big non-governmental organisations are involved in mega projects to stop climate change the common people could make their small contributions like saving water or electricity and misusing freshwater for non-essential purposes. They need to remember that little drops of water will make a mighty ocean.
Another important issue that should be in focus in this New Year is peace and national unity. Daily Mirror earlier published an article written by Dr. Ruvaiz Haniffa, former President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association in which he urged that the year 2020 be named as the ‘Year of Tolerance’.
In the international media, we saw how ‘The Year of Tolerance’ was celebrated by the Sheiks of Abu Dhabi and the Catholic Priests of Dubai, together with thousands of Muslims and Christians there, a few weeks ago.
Recovering from one of the worst terrorist attacks in the country’s history on April 21, 2019, tolerance would be an important lesson that all Sri Lankans need to learn in this New Year.
We wish all our readers a peaceful and happy New Year.