NEW Year is not just a time for celebration; it is also a time for new beginnings. The most important things in life are begun anew with blessings and love shared between family and friends. This is the integral message of the New Year; that whatever mistakes were made during the past year there is always space for a new start to life.
For millions of Sri Lankans celebrating New Year, this can move beyond mere personal goals. As a nation, there are many things that must still be achieved. Reconciliation based on trust, honesty and justice is still very much in need; sharing and caring for thousands of internally displaced as well as the poor of Sri Lanka must be considered. Those of us who are lucky enough not to have to worry about where our next meal will come from, a roof over our heads, or even safety and an adequate income, should spare a thought for those that are not quite so lucky.
In the march towards a new beginning, there is much to be done to ensure that real quality of life is transmitted to those who cannot count themselves among the fortunate. There are an estimated 14,000 soldiers who have been disabled in the war, there are many others who have lost family and friends; and these are also people who need to be remembered and included in the rejuvenation.
Apart from the sad results of the conflict, there are many other governance issues that must be addressed and blatant corruption that must be at least kept in check to ensure that the ambitious plans and hard work of the people are not brought to naught. A country where public servants are guilty of neglecting their duty, politicians are corrupt and the private sector greedy for profit cannot make a claim to a new beginning that is worthy of its people.
A country that disregards lack of democracy, good governance and transparency cannot hope for a constructive new beginning; it cannot hope for sustainable or inclusive development and more than anything else, it cannot hope to heal the scars caused by three decades of conflict. What new beginnings bring more than anything else is Hope. Hope that there is a better future ahead. Hope that we can achieve that future. Hope that we are worthy of something better.
Carrying hope high on our shoulders we step into a New Year. But whether we can make this hope last or spread this hope to people who need it the most will only be decided by our actions. The sibling of hope is change and without the latter, the former will wither away and die.
The Sinhala and Tamil New Year is symbolic in that both ethnicities celebrate the same holiday together, but in their own way. This unity in diversity is an essence that needs to spread to other aspects of our life. New Years come and go but it is our actions that can make a difference to being a better New Year in 2012.