COUNTRY BEFORE SELF
Danidhu Vithanawasam calls for the nation’s aspirations to be prioritised
Q: Could you describe the good, bad and ugly in Sri Lanka?
A: Sri Lanka is a nation with a momentous history, where we have seen political, economic and social changes – this is a definite positive. Sri Lankans, themselves, are special; they possess qualities that distinguish them from global citizens.
But the country is portrayed negatively by the community, due to our inability to prioritise. This clouds judgement, and prompts personal agendas and malevolent extremist thinking, which are the bad and ugly aspects.
Q: And what are the challen- ges facing the nation today?
A: The country has faced a few elementary problems, in under- standing democracy and politics. Due to the lack of pragmatic policymaking, it is impossible for the right, moral and especial- ly pragmatic ideas to permeate the people, in certain cases.
Sri Lanka doesn’t understand the need to live in mutual asso- ciation with diverse ethnicities. Many Sri Lankans have also forgotten the rudiments that unite human beings, allowing trivialities to get in the way. Sri Lanka needs leadership that will create not just a path, but a plan to stimulate the country in both economic and social goals.
Q: What opportunities do you see for young Sri Lankans such as yourself?
A: The deep-rooted education system that Sri Lanka constantly tries to provide for its younger generation has, over the years, proved to be inadequate in catering to the exceptional individuals we have within the country.
Our highly recognised education system, both at secondary and university levels, has thus been the cause of brain drain, with individuals finding the environ- ment non-stimulating. John F. Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you;
So the solution, as strongly captured by JFK, is for young people to be patriotic and nation- minded, prioritising the nation’s aspirations over our own.
Q: So do we have young leaders who can take the country forward? And what traits would you want to see in them?
A: Sri Lanka has a host of exceptional individuals, whose skills are overlooked due to our obsession with petty conflict. While we will continue to nurture such individuals, they don’t have a holistic view of our country and what needs to be done.
Given our eventful political history, Sri Lanka needs young leaders who will lift the nation from its present mire, augment our traditions and drive a nationalist perspective over foreign agendas. We do not want leaders who prioritise their personal welfare over national unity.
Q: Do you believe that Sri Lanka will be united one day?
A: Sri Lanka will unite only when people come together, to commit to one another and the nation. This can only be achieved when fundamentals
– including education, economic stimulus and development– are common objectives and from a common ground, to take Sri Lanka forward.
The day we realise this, we will unite; because we’ll be sufficiently disciplined to march towards this common objective.
Q: What are your expectations of the world in which we live?
A: Our world has experienced a great number of incidents that
have both harmed and protected it. However, freedom of expression – and the tolerance displayed, due to this freedom– has seen disputes emerge. My expectations are that, as an intelligent species, we can transform those wrongs into rights, sooner rather than later.
Q: How do you view the conflicts there are in the world, at this time?
A: Extreme diversification Sri Lanka needs leadership that will create not just a path, but a plan to stimulate the country in both economic and social goals…
has led to numerous concepts and philosophies. While this has led to positive outcomes, it has also birthed conflicts that are based on extremist ideologies, both religious and political.
It is fuelled by human nature… of always establishing what’s fair, for oneself. Not everyone is a maverick, but any ideology can be driven forward, even at the expense of bloodshed. Everyone is responsible for conflict; therefore, if we want to witness change, it is we who must practise it first.
Q: And finally, where do you see Planet Earth in 10 years’ time?
A: With the world facing a number of environmental and political issues – plenty of which are due to imperialistic and short- sighted ideas – if we’re to see a different world, then that difference must happen now.