On February 4, 2011, we celebrated our 63rd Independence Day. For the first time in 63 years, the celebrations were held outside the Colombo City, in Kataragama. In 2009, after the conflict which ruined our country for more than three decades, the country gained true Independence. After 30 years, people travelled around the country without any fear. People from the South toured the North and the Northerners paid visits to the Southerners. In an environment like this, we are an independent nation.
Once Gandhi said, “You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”
Independence is the freedom of our soul, sensitivity of the mind and a feeling understood only by the heart. When this sensitivity, patriotism, self- dependence, and the freedom put together there is a big responsibility for today’s youth to create a better Sri Lanka.
“I’m proud to be a Sri Lankan.” How often have you heard that expression? How often have you heard that expression and felt the emotion coming through, like a quiver of arrows? Maybe once, maybe twice or maybe you never thought about it. Now that is freedom of thought.
However, is it of any good? With the budding face of the youth of today, the insight levels of the Sri Lankan youth is increasing, for the better. Reviving those rare instances of pride being linked to our nationality, as part of our identity, we begin to wonder why each one of us does not feel that way when every single time our nation is being criticised, or being harassed by powerful nations.
Sometimes Sri Lankans themselves go against the motherland for the sake of money. Why is it only on Independence Day, we feel ‘Sri Lankan’? We queried from a few Sri Lankan youngsters about the way they define independence, what actually it means to them.
Hishan Melanga, an IT undergraduate gives us an idea of a thinking man’s perception of freedom, “Independence is the happiness we have. Happiness is something we should earn. Therefore, the person who is happy enjoys independence at its best.”
Eranda Angunuwela, a software engineer, on the other hand, preferred to cut it short by saying, “Independence to me is responsible freedom.”
Eranda Senanayake, a university graduate, defines Independence as the ability to live peacefully without causing harm to anybody and without quandary from others.
Chinthaka Maduranga, an engineering student, quotes a philosopher saying, “The right to swing my stick ends where the other man’s nose begins. People should know this simple rule when dealing with the society. I live by this and that is what Independence means to me.”
“Independence is not an easy topic to describe. I think that is relative from person to person. For example, a person freed from prison might feel a lot of freedom than a person who is still inside. However, if the person is going to a house where poverty governs, will they feel the real independence? Therefore, what I feel is as freedom is not a matter, it is just a status of each individual’s mind,” said Kasun.
Amali Perera, who has just completed her A/L examination gives an entirely dissimilar outlook to Independence. “How often do we actually think about the sacrifice, the struggle that has gone into obtaining this freedom that we’re enjoying today, except while studying about it in history lesson? To be honest, I never do. Independence does not mean anything to me. It has become a habit now, to be proud of my country on Independence Day every year. The day is just a holiday for me. However, this needs to be changed soon.”
With so much brainstorming over Independence and its importance in our lives, it is not difficult to believe that youth are concerned about their independence as well as the nation’s. Their voice needs to be heard. Their ideas should not be restricted, but should be used for the betterment of the country. They are the future leaders of our country.