Today most leaders of nations and the civilized people governed by them do not think of conquest of other nations and subjugating them under their feet. Such naked conquests have become unthinkable. Most people are preoccupied first of all with their own survival and in caring for themselves and their kith and kin. A concern for caring for friends and ‘neighbours’ may be there in some people who are more endowed with the higher gifts of the intellect, culture, goodwill, magnanimity, benevolence and altruism. But leaders who see beauty and splendour, shade and colour, diversity and miscellany in the oneness of a whole people of diverse communities and genuinely and self-sacrificingly embody love of them all and promote their recurrent well-being are rare indeed. Yet they are the need of the hour.

The over-arching struggle for acceptance of the human dignity and rights and duties of diverse human beings who constitute one humanity has become the most important struggle that must see a satisfactory solution if human beings are to live on earth as human beings and not like mindless, unthinking brutes.


In spite of great advances in science, technology, philosophy and the deeper understanding of the teachings of the great religious traditions, humanity as a whole and we in Sri Lanka as one people have not fully understood that all of humanity consists of brothers and sisters, belonging to a plurality of communities and cultural traditions. Until all of humanity come to a realization and comprehensive understanding of this basic truth, all are condemned to devise ways and means of remaining in separate and disintegrated compartments of existence, even rising above others or subjugating others to make one’s own life easier and more comfortable. In such circumstances, relationship that are basic to human beings do not get established on levels of equality and respect for others. Instead, ignorance of others, suspicion, prejudice, indifference, bigotry and unconcern predominate.

The powerful exert dominance over others; the weak feel oppressed, harassed, demeaned and humiliated and treated unjustly and unfairly. This means that in spite of advances on many fronts those who consider themselves powerful human communities remain to a great extent below the satisfactory level of humanness and civilization required by life in the world of the twenty-first century. It is a level of civilization the spirit of which was inserted into human beings more than two millennia ago.


Political alliances and power blocs hamper just and fair integration of diverse people into composite human communities. Political power blocs are self-centred and more concerned about their being entrenched in power than in the well-being of the rest of humanity. This is a position quite in contrast to human solidarity. The notable characteristic of every human being is not to live alone but to live with others. Human beings growing up normally should be able to reach out to others and accept others into one’s life to live in friendship, amity, collaboration, cooperation and solidarity. In a family good parents advise their children to change and transform the clashes among siblings to mutual acceptance and to turn opposition to conviviality and brotherly love.

This happens when they grow in age, unless other stronger influences mess up and cloud the relationships. In like manner under the guidance of religious leaders, people should learn to turn misunderstanding into understanding, anger and indignation to calmness and cordiality. Though it is not always easy, religious leaders are capable of persuading, motivating and drastically changing and elevating people to a higher and nobler level of living in community. That is what religious leaders are for: to call forth all human beings to establish good relationships, to repair broken ones and to transform aggressive behaviour into agreeable and humane demeanour.


Struggle for equality or growth towards equality should emerge through a recognition of and a new sensitivity to human dignity and human rights. All are born with equal human dignity and human rights. Unless law stipulates otherwise, everyone has the right to live in the territory where one is born. No one has rights as a perpetual proprietor for any part of the earth or to any people living on the land; even those who own a piece of land are trustees of the land they possess and they must conserve and entrust it to succeeding generations without damaging it environmentally making life difficult for them.

Human fraternity is imperative for humanity to live together in their respective communities. Peace within nations and internationally needs to be built on recognition of that imperative. Man must not only pollute human relations and the surface of the earth, he should not clutter the cosmos with debris from the earth.

All need to be liberated from inhuman religious, cultural, social, political and gender domination that lead to injustice and violence. Political leaders should understand that liberation should be for all people and from all manner of bondage. It is in an environment of holistic liberation that reconciliation is possible.

Every religion has a spirituality of reconciliation. The religious leaders and the more awakened persons of each religious denomination could promote reconciliation among their followers including the politicians. They could sow seeds of truth where truth is suppressed or distorted, hope where there is despair, faith where there is doubt, light where there is darkness, joy where there is sadness, fraternity where there is clannishness, in the spirit of St. Francis who loved all creatures and all of creation.


Convincing all the people about the relevance and appropriateness of these truths for the present times is a strenuous task of all right-thinking leaders, especially religious leaders. Yet this is the only alternative we have today in the face of a situation in which people are easily confused and could lead one another into harmful and violent error destructive of humanity.

Just as human beings are capable of amazing feats of scientific and technological advancement, the national and global situation should show that human beings of today are capable of surprising and remarkable achievements of humanness which will shed a bright light on all due to the splendour of their genuine graciousness, a quality only human beings could possess and show. 

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