Why I’m proud of being Sri Lankan
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TL;DR - I do not intend to draw your attention to the vibrant wildlife, lush greenery or the golden beaches that Sri Lanka has to offer. Nor would I boast about how we fought (and finally got over) a war that lasted three decades. Instead, I want to talk about our people. EVOLVING people.
I have to admit that this very subject has become a cliché and a mechanical topic for every kid who has gone through primary and secondary education in my country. In essays, poetry, speeches and even drawings school-goers have been asked to reflect on their national pride. Whether the kids were genuine in addressing it was never a question to be raised as long as a properly ‘‘engineered’’ piece was presented.
Today, as a 20 year old, I have realised the value of giving this thought some good attention. So I sat down and thought for a while why I would call myself a proud Sri Lankan. Here’s why:
I do not intend to draw your attention to the vibrant wildlife, lush greenery or the golden beaches that Sri Lanka has to offer. Nor would I boast about how we fought (and finally got over) a war that lasted three decades.
Instead, I want to talk about our people. EVOLVING people.
Every community has its own values, attitudes and priorities. Individuals living in that community may or may not choose to live by those guidelines. The rebels are often branded as outcasts, shunned and frowned upon, while the ones aboard the bandwagon take a comfortable ride until their horses die from fatigue.
For decades, this social stigma was responsible for killing youth enthusiasm and energy, their eagerness to speak out, participate and engage. ‘‘Change’’ needed a lot of courage, and courage was not something that one could learn in school. I have seen many youngsters painfully absorbing this social stress, only to break down eventually. The number of beautiful dreams that have been crushed under the force of alienation would be virtually countless.
But things are changing now. Sri Lankans are learning from their mistakes, evolving as they go. The youth voice is no longer neglected and put aside as ‘‘amateur opinion’’. We have a functioning Youth Parliament, an active UN Youth Delegate programme, and a substantial number of youth organisations and activists around the island engaged in diverse activities ranging from basic community welfare to fun and recreation. Youth Volunteerism is flourishing. Most importantly, the number of young people engaging actively in societal debates through Social Media and other interactive platforms is increasing by the hour.
And that’s why I am proud of being Sri Lankan; proud of representing a generation of change agents.
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