May 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

April English Page_Pag 63


The passionate desire for freedom varies from country to country and nation to nation.. One scholar has described this discourse on freedom for the people as a political activity that takes place ina cultural environment.’

An example we wish to illustrate this took place at a meeting by an extreme Islamist organization held in Colombo regarding the legalisation of women and child marriages . At this meeting women were half the participants. It is a fact to be taken note of that this was not about their lives or a free and independent life that they were clamouring for. However much conditions laid down by tradition and certain religious thinking have a negative influence on their lives, in most under developed countries there are no protests against these.

Our newspaper ‘YATRA’ has been in existence for fully ten years in this country and in the land of our birth. Our mission is on behalf of a meaningful personal and social life for all. We have expressed the limitless love we have for our country of birth on behalf of all nationalities, ethnic and religions groups, caste and social status in our country to live a prosperous life free of fear and suspicion. But in a near threatening manner we were ordered by some residents in Canada to confine our representation to one ethnic group. Their idea was that if we do not do as they demand , we are ‘traitors to our own country’. We are ready to accept this new honorific title. See how new guardians to interpret ‘ patriotism’ and ‘traitor’ have surfaced in Canada!

In our lives, from our youth we have always been involved in a social life and a political culture. It was our cultural and political affiliation that prompted in us a desire to launch on this venture. Criticism when we take the wrong path was our practice due solely to our affection for our country of birth. Dante, the philosopher, has expressed this golden maxim that It is only a person who has reached refinement who can treat criticism as something good. A rotten society ridden with ancient sayings destroyed it and a new society flowered because such a society had accepted such social characteristics.

In Buddhism we learn how Lord Buddha, before he was born into the life where he attained enlightenment, observed the five relevant areas of time, country, place, caste and mother. Instead of the religious aspect of religious literature lets us examine its societal significance. What the Buddha attempted was to learn the realities of the world and through that learning to embed in society a solution. In this effort there should be a populace to accept with minimum opposition the societal effort he was making. In this time, country, place there should be a generation of kin and parents displaying minimum opposition. To understand the Buddha’s doctrine there should be such a populace capable of understanding it. Even when he launched on this historic activity there were supreme scholars as jain Mahaweera, Ajitha Kekambala and scholars such as Charvakampuras charvaka, who through their own means preached the revolution in the world and created their own pupils. Apart from food , drink, attire , it was an ideal time in society to work towards an intelligent discourse. Though In periods when this does not happen individual ideas can be attempted to use as a weapon to force such ideas into the lives of the others. But the Buddha was born into such a favourable, ideal society.

It was a society of good people who wished for such a society where discussion, debate and tolerance of other views and opinions were its innate virtues. What exists today is an extension of the democratic atmosphere that prevailed then.

A country like Canada, compared to the country of our birth, is a highly developed society which encourages open discussion and debate. Its society also contains organizations which encourage such practices. To accept these realities is not to dishonor the land of our birth. Through such open discussion and debate the best things for the country are decided. Through this there is development with less opposition and a population with less complaints and bitterness. Considering such data is one factor to produce a final result. In the World Happiness ranking ranking system which records countries in which the population is happy, Canada is in seventh place while Sri Lanka occupies 120th place.

Discovering new knowledge, analyzing t hem critically and if they are good, dispelling the old and hackneyed thinking and filling ones minds with new thoughts and ideas is can be done only by human beings. This is the story of the evolution of mankind from ancient times till the creation of the present advanced human being. But throughout history there were those who challenged these. Though ISIS, Taleban, and extremist Sinhala and Tamil sections live anywhere in the world. extreme nationalists belong to the sections that challenge this forward journey. Surfacing the virtues and making an effort to inculcate them in society is the way to protect our being Sinhala and Buddhist. Other than that, it is not preventing the rights of other religious or ethnic groups and not drowning them ina pool of blood. Munidasa Kumaratunge introduced to society certain values in the Sinhala language which so far language specialists had not been able to discover. He rendered an invaluable service to the Sinhala nation. Babarande Siriseevali, Hikkaduwe Pranngarama, Kotagama Wachissara, Yahirala :P annananada, Kiriwaththuduwe Prangasara, Palanay Vajiragnana, Balangoda Maithriya and similar religious thinkers with their pure knowledge and through their efforts, presented society with new aspects of Buddhism and caused a revival of Buddhist thinking.

But even coming to a foreign country which had developed in every sphere, and seeing unlimited freedom of discussion and debate, there are many who attempt to measure these by the yardsticks which they have brought with them. They measure our efforts with the same yardstick and even while they understand that our efforts, thinking and activities are far ahead of their measurements, there is a handful who continue to indulge in this. It was these who insulted and threatened us during the foregoing period.

Though for ten years we have been involved in an activity, it was a more tiresome a struggle than we thought. Had we not been part of that passionate struggle, there was the possibility that we may not have been part of this effort for so long. But, in the end, we have persisted for ten years ( without a break). Some day when the history of the people of Canada is written, we are certain that it would include a record of Yatra. On this tiresome, yet satisfactory journey there were friends and enemies, but there were no false friends which was our great good fortune.

This struggle which lasted ten years was not launched in a suitable social environment. But from time to time we met people olf various social positions to encourage us. There were business tycoons, readers and resource persons who became our friends.

Whenever, on some day till the land that belongs to us fades away and as long as we can still make the effort, we will continue to launch this struggle.

Friends, thank you a thousand times.

Enemies, thank you too.


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