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The Christmas Tree


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There is a saying in the English language, which goes something like “you cannot see the woods for the trees”. What it means is that those who cannot see the wood because of the trees that obstruct would not be able to see a situation as it really is, because they look too closely at the nitty-gritty and miss the big picture.

I was reminded of this adage when I drove past the Viharamahadevi Park recently and was pleasantly surprised to get a clear view, right into the park. I was wondering about this new look and what had caused it, when I suddenly noticed that the lower branches of all the trees had been neatly cropped. The city planners in Colombo are knocking down walls; breaking down barricades and pruning trees to create a sense of space in the centre of the metropolis, and it’s looking beautiful.

One cannot but feel that Colombo is about to break out of its shackles and begin breathing free. Even though all this is happening and we are on the brink of this freedom, there is still something that seems to hold us back. That is none other than the pessimism that we see all around us.

Here’s a theory that I have and this is for the middle class of this country: If we don’t break out of this pessimistic paradigm that we ourselves have created, we will not develop or prosper. The reason for this is that by being pessimistic we kill sentiment (good sentiment), which is the driving factor of a middle class economy.

The middle class by far and large live on the value addition factor of the economy. Be it the stock market, property market, fashion, entertainment, the hospitality industry, whichever the sector, by constantly speaking negative, we are unknowingly pulling a dark cloud over our economy that otherwise has all the signs of being on the brink of boom.

I read a recent interview given by a technocrat of this country who was speaking on the Commonwealth Games bid. He rightly says, “We have to break free from the defeatist attitude and develop a can-do spirit.” He was of course defending himself to the journalist on the cost of the bid, losses incurred and Sri Lanka not winning the bid.

I’m not passing any judgement on how much was spent and whether the spend was worthwhile or not, but there was a point made in the interview by this Government official which should not be ignored and that is the need to think positive.

If we went into this bid thinking that we were going to lose it and did not put our best foot forward, what would the point of the exercise be? As the technocrat said in his interview: “Who can be dead sure of anything? In an election, like in a cricket match, one has to do one’s best and attempt to win. That is the way all progressive teams act and believe and we are no different from the rest.”

What is our Sri Lankan dream? Is prosperity a part of it? As we enter another Christmas season, the number of slogans one might find is many. One such saying goes: “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” That is something that we need to clearly understand if we are to prosper, i.e. if we don’t will it, it will not happen.

In order for it to happen, there must be positive thinking. Focusing on the nitty-gritty is not the need of the hour – what we need to look at is the big picture. Therefore, the message for this Christmas is clear: “If we don’t find prosperity in our hearts, we are not going to find it under a tree.”

(The writer, a PR consultant and head of Media360, was previously a mainstream journalist in print and electronic media. He also edits a new media website.)


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