By Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith – Archbishop of Colombo –
On 4th February our beloved Motherland, Sri Lanka will be celebrating 65 years of Independence. It is truly a joyful moment for all of us in spite of the many imperfections we still need to overcome, in the march towards the consolidation of that freedom. At this moment we wish to salute all those great leaders of our motherland who struggled together, irrespective of their many differences, to free this country from the shackles of foreign domination.
While we do that we also have the obligation to not only preserve that freedom but also to ensure that it is truly strengthened and consolidated in the years to come. “Be faithful to the principles of justice, equality and unity”. Simply remembering the achievements of the past will have no meaning unless we commit ourselves to ensure that on the one side no foreign power or ideology would ever be allowed to enslave us again and on the other to ensure that we create in this country a truly democratic, just, prosperous, united and peaceful Sri Lanka.
Regrettably, in the past 65 years not everything has been rosy. There indeed have been many dark patches in this historic journey. Racial, religious and political intolerance have caused bloodshed, violence and the creation of a divisive mentality among the people of this country. Even after 30 years of war and misguided political ideologies and their resultant terror events in the North as well as in the South, there still are people who boastfully claim that this country belongs only to them and not to the others. There is still an underlying sense of suspicion between the Sinhala and Tamil races of this country and now it has been shown to spread even against our Muslim brethren. There is a nagging sense of insecurity in the hearts of people, which can erupt once again into violence and yet another unending conflict. Three years after the terrible war, still we do not see a sincere attempt being made to win over the minds and hearts of the people in the North, who are longing for a time in which they can administer their own areas without being centrally controlled by men in uniform. They are longing to enjoy the freedom to administer themselves. The monstrosity of the ill effects of mono-culturalism is haunting us still. Besides there is also a nervous feeling of insecurity stemming from certain political initiatives which seem to threaten the democratic institutions of this country. All of this could lead to yet another wave of instability and the loss of that hard won freedom.
What we need to do is to strive to be faithful to the principles of justice, equality and the respect for unity in diversity as well as commitment to true peace and prosperity for all, without being partial to our own community, whatever that be. These, after all, are the principles which originate from the different religious traditions we profess, for religion is never exclusive but inclusive and is never restrictive but universal.
I therefore, call upon all our beloved citizens to work hard to overcome all divisive and authoritarian and anti democratic urges that often tempt and taunt us and to reach out to everyone in true fraternity in order to consolidate this freedom and to ensure that we never fall back again into slavery and the dominion of others or of our own egoisms. I call upon all our faithful to pray for our dear motherland.
May God bless Sri Lanka!
*Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith – Archbishop of Colombo- Message on the 65th Independence Day of Sri Lanka