A Few of Sri Lanka’s Impatient Optimists

The political landscape of Sri Lanka is vibrant to say the least.   In just two months, we have seen the rising up of a nation over a number of contentious affairs – when university students country wide were mandated to participate in militaristic “leadership training” as an orientation to higher-education; when the killing of a free trade zone worker suggested the abandonment of human rights; when the imbalanced reporting of foreign news media on the conclusion of the civil war provoked anger, confusion, and hopelessness in the masses leaving us questioning what really happened.  We have petrol strikes, three-wheeler strikes, and bus strikes.  Many an ordinary man would sigh an exasperated sigh, and with a faint smile on his face and a shaking of the head say: “only in Sri Lanka.”  I sometimes feel that my beautiful country has a unique ability to be in some form of turmoil at all times but nevertheless, we are an island that creates change makers.

A few of my recent faves:

For those enthusiasts of the environment and everything sustainability, check out Dr. Mohan Munasinghe’s work.  I had the wonderful opportunity of hearing him speak and was touched by his humility and blown away by the path he has championed.  He has worked tirelessly to push environmental policy and sustainable practice forward and in 2007, shared the Nobel Prize for Peace.

For cricket lovers near and far, former captain of the Sri Lanka cricket team, Kumar Sangakkara delivered this year’s Sir Colin Cowdrey Speech at Lord’s and has inspired a nation and compelled debate in many spheres.  His speech is a testament to the power of sports to define, unite, and challenge a country.

For those with an interest in social enterprise, learn about the visionary Merrill J Fernando and the MJF Charitable Foundation.  Through investing the profits from his successful Dilmah tea companies, MJF is able to create change in the wider community.

For those who appreciate good journalism, particularly those of you who may be interested in Sri Lankan affairs – Groundviews –

Sri Lanka’s first and international award-winning citizens journalism website uses a range of genres and media to highlight alternative perspectives on governance, human rights, the arts and literature, peace-building and other issues.

These are just a few of Sri Lanka’s impatient optimists who are truly the change they wish to see.  They use their passion – for the environment, sports, news media – to inspire and motivate ordinary citizens like myself.   These folks have asked themselves: ‘if not now, then when? if not me, then who?’

So now, it’s your turn.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”.

Thank you for those wise words Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I’ll get on my way trail blazing.




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