“are we ready for change?”

Mobilizing people and youth activism to bring about change and a solution for the ongoing ethnic conflict, should it be done at a more individual level? or do we need to go one step further and gather in a team to bring about change? Was what a group of youth activist discussed yesterday (11 December) evening at a study circle session held in Colombo.


One of the activists who came up with the proposal that, we need to create a alternative direction for the youth to unit to bring about change in this country and to begin with this to have a group of likeminded people getting together working on a course of action to achieve change. The activist claimed that combating a wide range of challenges to bring about change should be done more in a coalition rather than tackling it individually.


Now there must be loads of questions bothering you, yes, you are right the activists were also talking about the risks, in other words one’s own weaknesses when being an activist of bringing about change no matter what you are fighting for. It can be treats to one’s own life, family and close friends, loved ones or even property, but how do we draw the line being a moderate person trying to combat all these challenges and still wanting to bring about change? Can we really do this?


The argument was that one of the advantages in having a group of people rather than your own self can be that, there would be the others to stand by any person of the group facing a particular treat. Say you organize a huge protest at the Lipton circus asking the government to stop war and go for peace talks, it catch the attention of the media and you make a huge voice, the next day you are been abducted by a white van and questioned for hours about your involvement with the so called terrorist and other extremist. At a situation like this you will feel very depressed, uneasy and etc, but if you know that there are another 10 to 15 people around you supporting you to continue to fight the cause, you know it will make you much comfortable than before right?


However is it going to be another revolutionary story like “Rang De Basanti”? for the people who have not heard about “Rang De Basanti” it is a story about youth of India today – in the film both the 1930’s British India and the India today run parallel and intersect with each other at crucial points. As the film reaches its resolution the line between past and present blurs, as they become one in spirit. For those who haven’t seen this, you need to find it somehow and watch it. I was almost tearing when I first saw it and well I am not going to tell anything more about the film.


So is it going to be another revolutionary story like “Rang De Basanti”? The answer for this question is totally up to you to decide. Of all the things I have heard, seen and learnt so far is that you have to sacrifice certain things to achieve goals in life and in fact in the process of trying to bring about change, you might have to sacrifice lot of the things you like, love and want.


Take Mahatma Gandhi’s story for example, he was a non-violent person who brought about change in non-violent form of activism. However even he had to sacrifice lot of his likes, comforts, had to face lot of hardships, had to face violent reactions, etc. in his philosophy, which he openly proclaimed in 1906 he said “one should never respond to violence with violence” however he and his followers had to face violent responses by the British in their (India’s) struggle for a free nation. India lost a lot of lives in their fight against a free liberal nation and that was a sacrifice they had to make to make the Brits understand, that they were masters of another country, but not theirs. Despite all those sacrifices, Gandhi was not able to achieve what he wanted – one independent state, but instead two states, the Indian Union (Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslims).


Getting back to the topic, I would say that, we have seen different stories of which some had great endings and some didn’t, it’s time for us to make sure that the people of this country need to stand as one to what they believe is right and not what the political leaders want. Remember lot of people saying, if you want someone to be elected, whom you believe will do his/ her best, you vote that person and send the person to the parliament, but in case that he/she doesn’t meet the expectations of the voters; is there any system to pull him out from the parliament? This is something most of us have not thought of and have not lobbied for.


One government will come and say that we can win this war and don’t need to go for peace talks with the terrorist, and when the war goes for some time, celebrate victory and then another government comes in to power they say there is no point of a war lets have negotiations and then they go for a ceasefire. Whatever said and done MR’s Government is not the first government who said that the LTTE needs to be wiped out, even CBK’s Government said the same and they also did a bloody war for some time and its only after that when RW’s Government came in to power the country went in to a CFA. So you will never know whether the next Government, whoever it is going to be will go for a CFA? This is just a cycle rotating or rather being rotated to achieve personal gains.


One reason for this to happen is that the people of this country are very short term based. They think they can be satisfied in life if they can earn for the day, but not look at saving for their own future. So they support one Government to fight a war and the other to strike a CFA.


My generation, from the day we were born has never seen a Sri Lanka without a conflict. We have been living for more than 20 long years or rather two decades with this bloody war. So now we really do not care when a bomb in Wallawaya or Galle for that matter goes off, because now it has been a part of our lives. Who do we blame all this for? The Government in power? The opposition? Or our own selves? It’s time to find a solution for our own selves now before it is too late.


We need to mobilize our selves, be much more organized, find the third alternative if both the others (war and CFA) doesn’t work! We need to sacrifice some element of our lives in order to achieve what we want. Start the change from you, try to change the perception of the people whom you meet, work with and most importantly get together to fight for what we need and if we don’t act today, it will be too late to act tomorrow!


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