Groundviews

Wenasak: A Post-Election Reflection

AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S.KODIKARA via Japan Times

Yesterday’s energy

Sri Lanka is still overwhelmed with the peoples’ energy that a few days ago brought the immeasurable gift of democratic regime change.

As the campaign heightened, one word; “ wenasak”– (Sinhala-“a change”) became a spontaneous and variable slogan or code, determined by the context in which it was used. There was no need to mention a name or colour or symbol; people simply wanted a change. Over 80% voted.

“Wenasak” was however possible due to a convergence of several democratic forces. Some of these were;

Todays’ reward

This cluster of forces points to persons of conscience who placed the common good before self- interest. Many worked separately but all contributed to a common momentum. As some spoke and acted, others under pressure to give up were encouraged to renew their strength to persevere. The nation was not without persons of calibre.

Identity added to this impetus as more and more names and organisations stood up to be counted. People had understood that if “Wenasak” did not come now it would not come for a long, long, time hence. The result was an incredible non-violent peoples’ revolution. The sympathy of the world turned to admiration.

Tomorrows’ nation

These forces have proved that no matter how bleak the future of a nation may appear, regime change is possible and best from within. Waiting for external intervention invariably proves counter-productive. It neutralises hidden reserves of peoples’ energy, inevitably stimulated under oppressive regimes, and tends to divert a conflict in a more complex direction. It can also become an excuse for silence.

Just as this regime change took time, the change in social values and political culture that must follow will also take time. But tomorrow begins today. All who want a just, reconciled and safe nation are to sustain this momentum. The nations’ need of diverse human resources and skills; critics and visionaries; sages and activists, never ends. The forces that made “Wenasak” possible consequently remind us that if the nation is to embrace truth, justice, reconciliation and integration, both people and their elected representatives are called to continue to place the common good before self-interest.

They also teach us that none can do it all. In fact none should be allowed to, because it is when some imagine they can, that we return to where we desperately want to move away from.

With Peace and Blessings to all

Bishop Duleep de Chickera