Saturday, July 30, 2011

Countdown to the Conference: 13 days - Overcoming the Past for the Promise of the Future

            In recent memory, few conflicts have been as costly in terms of human life as the civil war fought in Sri Lanka.  Decades of fighting have left deep wounds that have occurred to recently to be rejected, especially by the youngest members of society.  While forging a future, the past cannot simply be buried.  People do not forget personal sorrow on command, so it can hardly be expected that they will embrace a future when so much unresolved tension already exists.  Sri Lanka Unites does not advocate mass amnesia regarding the past thirty years.    Instead, the past must be addressed and overcome.  Sri Lanka Unites has the following motto: “We will not let the hatred of the past control the present and destroy our future.”  The Future Leaders Conference allots a time where all of the students can ask forgiveness from each other for the thoughts and actions that have denigrated their countrymen.  These wrongs are not limited to Sri Lanka.  Every person is guilty of pursuing goals at the expense of others, and only by reconciling previous mistakes with others can we hope to build a future together.  The past must be forgiven, not forgotten. 

            The past also retains an additional function.  As human beings, we have notoriously short collective memories.  If the past conflicts are forgotten, then no safeguard can exist to foreclose the possibility of a repeat scenario of the recent hatred.  The same suspicions and “us v. them” mentality that led to the war can resurface and cause strife anew if no lessons remain to remind the people of the horrible cost that was paid.  By viewing the past with a lens free from any agenda and useless hate, it can serve a warning of the potential for ethnic hatred to rip the nation into warring entities once again.

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