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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2770

We all are Sri Lankans

Los Angeles, 10 February, (Asiantribune.com): After the independence, everyone in the country identified themselves only either as Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burgher or else as Malays, but none of them called themselves as "Sri Lankans". Because of such wrong perceptions, the country has traversed on a wrong path – twenty-six years of terrorism, country’s economy derailed and all these caused the world to view Sri Lanka as incorrectly as violent religious bigots.

Ven. Walpola Piyananda was speaking at the 61st Independence Anniversary of Sri Lanka which was held on Sunday 8th February 2009 at the Duarte Performing Arts Center, Duarte, California. Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Los Angeles Ananda Wickramasinghe organized an Official Celebration and Cultural Event to celebrate the 61st Independence Anniversary of Sri Lanka.

Participating in the Independence day celebrations Ven. Walpola Piyananda, Chief Sangha Nayaka of America addressing the gatherings and said, "Unfortunately, when we gained our independence from the British we made the mistake of thinking our new country only belonged to the group from which we came – and not to everyone else. We identified with being Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher or Malay – rather than identifying with being Sri Lankan first and foremost. We have paid the price for this wrong thinking in many ways – including twenty-six years of terrorism – which cost many lives, derailed our economy, and caused the world to view us incorrectly as violent religious bigots."

The full text of Ven. Walpola Piyananda is given below:

"We are here today to celebrate Sri Lanka’s sixty-first year of independence as a sovereign nation. For over four hundred years our country was used as property by European colonial masters as a way to bring their countries wealth, and during this time we suffered greatly as a people; our culture also went into a period of decline. With our independence in 1948 we gained the opportunity to chart our own course, to govern ourselves as we saw fit, and to create a new national culture that included the participation of all our people: Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and Malay.

"Unfortunately, when we gained our independence from the British we made the mistake of thinking our new country only belonged to the group from which we came – and not to everyone else. We identified with being Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher or Malay – rather than identifying with being Sri Lankan first and foremost. We have paid the price for this wrong thinking in many ways – including twenty-six years of terrorism – which cost many lives, derailed our economy, and caused the world to view us incorrectly as violent religious bigots.

"Now that our President Mahinda Rajapaksa has led us to the dawn of peace, this year we finally have a great opportunity to reap the rewards of our independence, and to develop a culture that is inclusive of all our people. In order to do so we must change our thinking and learn to identify with Sri Lanka first – and to the group we belong to last. We are one country; therefore, we must have one lasting peace for everyone. This new peace will surely bring Sri Lanka the economic prosperity we have all dreamed about, and make the world recognize and appreciate Sri Lanka for what we truly hope to be: a gem of harmony, and a diamond of unity.

"It is a known fact that Sri Lankan people have many in-born gifts and talents. We are highly intelligent, and we can learn how to do just about anything we set our minds to. However, I have seen many examples over the years – especially during my recent trip to Sri Lanka – of our people working very successfully alone, but completely unable to become a component to a successful team. Our lack of teamwork has cost us a great deal in many ways, and we must change this if we are to survive as both a people and as a nation. I urge you all to work together with your fellow Sri Lankans as a team. You may be very surprised at the positive results you might get – together, as a team.

"This independence day we must become free enough as individuals to forgive one another and to trust one another – regardless of the group from which we come –and develop a new, much more powerful, united Sri Lanka.

"I wish all of you the Blessings of the Triple Gem.

May you be well and happy."

- Asian Tribune -

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