Independence Day Message
Posted on February 3rd, 2011
Ven. Walpola Piyananda, Chief Sangha Nayake of America
Feb. 4, 2011, Long Beach, California
As we celebrate the 63rd Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence, I would like to draw your attention to two of our most important philosophical guidelines: The first is, do not forget your mother who gave you birth. The second is, do not forget your country where you were born. In regards to the second, my Independence Day message to you is that we have to learn to work together, settle our differences, communicate with one another, and move forward on our path to make Sri Lanka prosperous, and a place where all Sri Lankans feel at home.
A good example of working together is our hand. In order for the hand to work properly all five fingers need to cooperate with one another. The thumb would like to dominate by saying “I’m the strongest, therefore, I’m the boss.” The index finger would immediately shout back, “I’m the one who points the way, therefore, I should be the boss.” The middle finger raises his voice and says, “I’m the tallest, therefore, I should be the leader.” The fourth finger retorts, “I’m the one people adorn with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. I certainly should be the boss.” The fifth finger struggles to make itself heard and says, “Whenever people show respect to a shrine or to others, I’m the one in front. There is no question, therefore, that I should be in charge.”
These arguments will never solve anything, because none of the individual fingers can ever be the boss. They have to work together as the complete hand – and then they can accomplish anything they desire. Taking this example, Sri Lankan people are extremely intelligent people with many, many talents. However, we have learned from the past that if they don’t cooperate with one another – and communicate effectively – they cannot produce positive, long-lasting results.
Let us please forget our ethnic and religious identities, and not call ourselves or see ourselves as Sinhalese, Tamil, Burgher, Buddhist, Hindu or Catholic. Let us first identify as Sri Lankans – learn to see the bigger picture and the larger context or goal. If we do this, then nothing can stop us from great success as individuals – and as a collective Sri Lanka.