Compiled by Nicola Jayasundera
CHALLENGING OUR LEADERS
Sethumlee Dias calls for credible change by those who govern the people
Q: What’s the good, the bad and the ugly in Sri Lanka today?
A: A solid culture is the backbone of society since it creates the social norms that keep people in check. In the absence of such a culture, emotions rule over rationality.
The ugly is a rejection of anything that’s considered progressive because it contradicts ‘culture.’ This viewpoint stems from protectionism and conservatism; and when it comes to rejection, people frequently go to extremes.
Victim blaming and disrespect for women’s wellbeing are also aspects of our culture. Misogyny rules; and often, such ideas are expressed by educated individuals.
Q: And what are the other challenges facing our nation today?
A: Politicians and their indifference to the future of Sri Lanka are the fundamental reason for the current predicament of the island.
Extremely educated but morally stunted individuals are another reason for Sri Lanka’s regression. These people are bigots who hate others due to the colour of their skin, religion, ethnicity, language and so on.
Q: Do you believe that Sri Lankans will be united one day – and if so, how and why?
A: Racial separation is what divides us. We would be united one day – but it won’t be anytime soon.
A harmonious partnership consists of daily contacts and a shared worldview. While it’s true that we’ve all experienced trauma at some point, we aren’t prepared for the daily, shared reality. Being united necessitates conquering generational trauma and eschewing the victim mentality.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
A: While I have a deep love for my country, I don’t have a similar love for the people in it! Taking my safety into account, I definitely won’t be living in Sri Lanka.
Nevertheless, I will fulfil the responsibility of serving my country in some way. My dream is to provide people with an alternative form of medicine through nutrition so that consumers don’t need to suffer any side effects.
And more than anything else, I wish to have a little family of my own. My happiness would rely upon my success and I consider such a condition to include having a family.
Q: And where do you see Sri Lanka in a decade or so from today?
A: Sri Lanka’s future depends solely on the people in power. If leaders care enough to discharge their duties properly, we could have a better future.
Then the country will develop economically and enjoy the benefits of a steady population, lower levels of migration, job stability and access to essentials.
However, some leaders ruthlessly continue to destroy our country. This is prompting a brain drain, and those who are left behind will include the vulnerable and poor – it would then be easier for politicians to manipulate the people.
Q: Who is responsible for climate change and global warming – and what must be done about these issues?
A: Everyone is responsible for global warming and climate change.
In Sri Lanka for instance, we see the improper disposal of trash because too many people are unable to stop using public places including pavements to litter or dump their garbage.
Strict laws must be implemented to penalise such behaviour, and public awareness regarding litter and waste disposal should be prioritised. Responsibility at an individual level is far more effective than targeting the major leagues such as factories and large workplaces.
Q: How do you view the growing importance of social media today?
A: While it is a nontraditional addiction of the modern age, it’s impossible to deny that it unites people regardless of distance.
It builds friendships around the world, and improves the understanding of issues and people, as well as increasing sensitivity towards other people and their cultures.
Soft-core pornography however, which is glamourised and readily available on the internet, exposes children to perverts and predators. Since it’s widely believed that whatever social media says goes, it’s not difficult to manipulate gen Z and millennials who are using various platforms.
Q: Finally, where do you see the world in 10 years’ time?
A: A decade from now, things will be no different as we live in a technological age. There will be more discoveries and newer technologies, improvements to the metaverse and interstellar travel.
Hopefully, we would have adopted renewable energy sources and moved to mitigate climate change.