“A nation that forgets its past has no future” - Winston Churchill
As we end one decade and begin another, our thoughts go back in retrospect to the one just gone, and also to the one ahead, wondering what fate has in store for us.
The last decade started with a bang, as President Mahinda Rajapaksa had won the election the previous year, on the crest of a wave of elation, still prevalent, in the wake of a long drawn out war against terrorism being won. This was the focus of the propaganda used which helped his easy ride to victory. People were ecstatic with joy, that this terrorist group which had destroyed lives,leaving countless widows, orphans and parents who had lost their children had finally been defeated.
But the euphoria was not to last as history has taught us that people have short memories.The decade had its ups and downs, political changes came with the election which followed in 2015 with a dark horse, Maithripala Sirisena winning, mainly because of the UNP vote in a campaign led by its leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe. The Yahapalana government was formed as former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and the UNP leader thought that confrontational politics should end in the greater interest of the country; that two parties together could work towards unity, permanent peace and reconciliation which had eluded us so far. The government was able to bring in again,an independent judiciary, freedom of speech and the written word,and achieved much in the fields of Education Health, Housing, gave back lands in the North to rightful owners,increased salaries of government servants and pensions and more. But they could have done more, but one reason for this, was that unity in the government was bursting open at the seams and the dream and objectives its leaders had were not to be. MP’s were also too busy doing other things, including pursuing their personal agenda’s and ambitions to go to their electorates and tell the people at the grassroots about the achievements of the government.
We also had the former President removing the Prime Minister in a constitutional coup, and forming another government which was clearly against the constitution and declared so, by the then Chef Justice and an eminent, honest team of judges.One must not fail to mention the Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, who stood firm on this issue. Then we had the horrific Easter Sunday Bomb attack, killing so many, destroying families, homes, leaving unforgettable scenes of devastation in its wake. This led to further dissatisfaction and disillusion with the government and the then Prime Minister who was kept out of the picture with instructions given that no information was to be given to him or orders taken from him in the absence of the then President for reasons unknown, to the latter.
He was blamed by many, rather unfairly for the lapse in security. The end of the decade brought about another change of government with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda, former President as the Prime Minister. We hope and pray that they will be able to usher in an era of Permanent Peace, reconciliation and prosperity for our beloved nation. Politics apart, to one like me, brought up in an infinitely more genteel era which upheld high standards and principles, it’s sad to see a lowering of standards in all spheres of life.
Qualities like loyalty, a sense of responsibility,gratitude, appreciation,duty, adhering to rules and tradition,respect for elders and seniors, have all been blown away by the wind in many of the younger generation as was and is being seen in the behaviour of many youth and younger politicians today. We live today in a world of uncertainty and anxiety, worrying all the time about what tomorrow would bring. People seem not to care about others’ feelings or hurting others in their indecent hurry to get ahead. Patience too today, has become a forgotten virtue. One sees it everywhere, in traffic, on the road, in shops, a reluctance to wait for one’s turn, never saying sorry if they bang into you, never saying ‘Thank You’.
It is sad to see what has happened to what was once known as ‘Paradise isle’.
I am thankful that at my stage of life, not many tomorrows would be mine. But I do hope for a sprinkling of magic on our nation and its people,that will instill something greater like a sense of importance and Peace in one and all.
That there will be an end to violence, that people of all faiths will be able to practise the faith of their birth or choice in peace and freedom and that the words of the Buddha, especially on tolerance, compassion and mindfulness will inspire all political Leaders and Buddhist monks.