ith this festive week leading up to New Year’s Day on Monday, January 1, most people these days think and reflect on New Year resolutions, which are often forgotten after the festivities. This year we hope sincere people will become not just promise-makers but promise keepers. We also hope that with Sri Lanka and the world facing major crises- such as poverty alleviation, the battle against climate change or global warming and the moves to prevent a nuclear holocaust-the resolutions or promises we make or keep, will go far beyond our personal desires.
For instance, most people seem to need a change of attitude or thought process. Somehow, some selfish system has often taught us to ask what our country has done for us. We hope many people will make a resolution for a change of attitude to ask not what our country has done for us, but what we have done for our country to make it a peaceful, just, and all- inclusive society.
Our country has given us so many blessings – for instance a tropical paradise with a beautiful nature full of trees and plants, vegetables and fruits and animals ranging from the pet dog or cat to the majestic tusker in the jungles. Our country has also given us free education, which has enabled many people to go to the highest levels in fields such as medicine or law, engineering or accountancy. We also have a largely free health service though in the past few decades the private health sector has been turned into a big business and the well-being of patients comes far down in the list of priorities.
So, because of so much that our country has given us and is giving us, we could make a New Year resolution to be good, responsible and eco-friendly citizens, who care and share with others, especially the marginalised people caught up in the poverty trap of a wicked world.
The latest figures show that the world’s eight super billionaires own more wealth and resources than half the world’s population of about 3,500 million. Now with the President of the United States Donald Trump signing a tax bill that will probably make the rich richer and the poor poorer, while he suffers from a delusion that global warming is a Chinese hoax, the gap between the rich and the poor is likely to widen and reach some breaking point with devastating consequences.
Figures also show that in the United States, where about forty percent of the people are known to be suffering from obesity, more luxury food is wasted or dumped than the food produced in many developing countries.
Another New Year resolution we could make and keep is to get involved actively in the battle against poverty alleviation.
This does not mean indiscriminate charity like putting a coin into a beggar’s bowl or giving a person money for a meal.
If we save more we could share more. That means we need to make a New Year resolution to live in a simple and humble way or alpechchaththawaya, the simple lifestyle proclaimed by all major religions.
For instance if we generally spend about Rs.100,000 for the festive season, we could cut it down to half and share the remaining money with a poverty-trapped family for the education of their children or for the family to start some form of self-employment, so that the human dignity of the family is restored.
If 100, 000 people do this then we will be restoring the dignity of 100, 000 poverty-stricken families and taking a major step towards building a just and all-inclusive society.
The poverty-stricken people are not only forced to struggle to find their daily needs, they are not given a role or place in decision making, so they are moneyless – and powerless.
Giving them the means to earn their own living and giving them a voice in decision making processes are major steps towards a just society and we hope most people would consider this as one of their New Year resolutions.
Again we say, let us ask not what our country has done for us, but what we have done and are doing for our country and the common good of people of all religions and races in a spirit of unity in diversity.