The 'We can' philosophy
from President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the pronouncement that Sri
Lanka needs to believe in herself and her capabilities is most
inspirational. It is not very often that Heads of State and
government speak to the hearts and minds of the people, but
President Rajapaksa has done it in his down-to-earth inimitable
fashion and the country would be better off for it.
We believe that the decision and policy makers of this
country are conscience-bound to foster a sense of community
among the people of this land, besides building bridges of
camaraderie between the state and the public. Heads of State
could achieve much in this direction by speaking to the hearts
of the people in the way President Rajapaksa has done. A great
future awaits the country and this would be achievable provided
the rulers and ruled believe that they could 'do it.'
The immediate backdrop to the President's pronouncement of
his 'We can' philosophy is his visit to South Korea, a country
which ranks as an economic giant of the world. South Korea, the
President said, is what she is today because she believes in
herself and in her prowess to forge ahead on the path of
The public needs to ponder long and deep on these words of
the President. However, it was only in the early fifties of the
last century, Korea was almost wilting in the flames of war. In
fact, the two Koreas are yet to establish permanent peace.
Despite these obstacles, South Korea has won the war against
deprivation and backwardness. Today, she is a number one
industrial power and we would do well to emulate her. Sri Lanka
has it within herself to forge ahead in the manner of Korea
because Sri Lanka has proved that she could endure against
hardships and emerge victorious; the 'war against terror' being
a case in point.
However, winning in any sphere requires guts, courage and
perseverance. Besides cultivating the 'We can' ethic and putting
our minds and hearts to the task of sustained development, Sri
Lankans need to stand united and harmonious. It is not a
coincidence that many countries of the Far East, to which region
Korea belongs, have put behind them narrow and parochial
loyalties and divisions. Most of these countries see the need to
unite behind a single, over-aching national identity, all other
narrowly-defined group identities. That is, unity within
diversity. Rightly, they see such a project as going to the
heart of democratic development.
Sri Lanka too has been endeavouring on the path of democratic
development, but there are occasions when the observer is
compelled to recognize that all is not well on this score. One
such instance arose a few days back in Dambulla and the anxiety
on the part of many is that the incident in question would be a
trigger to religious tensions. As we said in this commentary
yesterday, this is a moment at which the well meaning of this
country should act cooperatively with the state to defuse the
tensions which have arisen and bring the communities of this
land together in a spirit of unbreakable unity and brotherhood.
In other words, all ethically-conscious and progressive sections
of Sri Lanka should actively labour for religious and cultural
National solidarity is an essential precondition for
development and prosperity. While the 'We can' philosophy is an
important ingredient in the process of economic development,
such an attitude needs to inform our endeavours at forging
communal and religious harmony too. Countries such as ours are
not destined to remain segmented on religious, cultural,
communal and other such lines. 'We can' act and forge ahead as
one nation and for this purpose the peace-loving members of our
numerous social groups need to come together and unite as one.
Together they could isolate the few extremists who thrive on
divisions and conflicts.
The state needs to think very seriously about outlawing all
forms of divisive and extremist politics that have as their aim
the fracturing and dismemberment of our body-politic. Inasmuch
as practical steps should be launched by our communities to
forge ahead as one, measures should be in place to defeat the
forces of extremism. This too 'We can' do.