Whatever religion or race, we belong to, all people are confronted by two key issues -- poverty alleviation and the battle against the global warming or climate change. In 2019 our New Year resolutions also need to focus on these issues besides others and we need to reflect deeply on how we could make a positive contribution towards resolving these. Maybe in a small way, at an individual level or as a small group, if we think beyond ourselves and work for the common good of our country we could find creative, innovative and enterprising ways of helping to alleviate poverty and reduce global warming or environmental pollution.
A cliché it may be but we need to remember that water in little drops make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land is made of little grains of sands. Similarly, the little minute, humble though it may be, makes the mighty ages of eternity.
Regarding poverty alleviation one important resolution could be to avoid waste, extravagance and luxuries. If we save more by doing this we could share more and thereby even in a small way bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources and help battle the monstrosity where in a hell of a world ten super billionaires are known to own or control about 90 per cent of the wealth and resources.
For instance in Sri Lanka and elsewhere there are small social justice groups which have online contacts with five-star hotels and big restaurants where we know that after every banquet, especially wedding receptions, hundreds of kilograms of rich and tasty food items are thrown into garbage bins. These groups have made arrangements online to collect the leftover food in huge deep freezer trucks. The next day, the food is nicely packeted and given to poverty-stricken people who often find it difficult to provide even two proper meals a day for their families.
In these and similar creative and enterprising ways, individuals or small groups could make a significant contribution towards poverty alleviation. They also need to do it with love and empathy for a struggling, poor and marginalised people. Otherwise it will be just another ritual.
‘Alpechchathawaya’ or a simple and humble lifestyle has been part of our culture and civilisation for more than 2.500 years and it is not difficult for most of us to learn to manage with our basic needs in terms of food, shelter, clothing and other essentials. The rest we could share with others but the problem appears to be our slavery to inner selfishness and self-centredness, which lead to other vices such as greed, envy, jealousy and the desire to go ahead or do better than others if we can by fair means or if not possible by foul means. All our religions call us to experience this liberation from selfishness or self-centredness otherwise we destroy ourselves like suicide bombers and in the process morally destroy those who come into contact with us.
So here we have another New Year resolution -- to meditate on the need for us to be gradually liberated from slavery to selfishness or self-centredness and become other-centred, being ready to even take a risk to help someone or some people in need though they may consider us to be enemies or opponents.
In the battle against global warming we could plant trees or develop home gardens, use organic fertilisers, weedicides or pesticides, save fresh water, go for solar energy, wind energy or other clean sources of renewable energy, stop using plastic or polythene and take other creative and practical steps to prevent a selfish and wicked world from destroying itself.
Let us not wait for political or other leaders to set the example. Most of them will not. It is we who need to reflect and rise to be responsible citizens.