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A Message to the Nation on the Occasion of Sri Lanka's National Day
By the Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera, Bishop of Colombo
CEYLON 080204-1
February 4, 2008

[The Church of Ceylon (E-P) - Ceylon] This year we celebrate 60 years of independence from British colonial rule. Our history as an independent people was interrupted and suppressed at the beginning of the sixteenth century with the invasion by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and the British. There is yet to be an apology from the former colonial powers for the violence and exploitation to the economy and cultures of countries like ours.

Today, sixty years after self-government, we are still a deprived and divided people. While there is no such thing as a perfect nation, our performance continues to be traumatic and tragic. Our growth and progress as an independent people has been violated by confrontational party politics, greed, and lack of vision and planning of the political leadership of the country, and an indifferent civil society. There has yet to be an apology from our successive layers of political leaders for depriving our people of a legitimate, secure and integrated quality of life.

A long journey lies ahead towards freedom. True freedom is freedom for all. There can be no freedom for some at the expense of freedom for others. Any such promise is immoral and a political lie.

The journey towards freedom must acknowledge and overcome the immediate national threats of poverty, impunity and violence, the oppression of ignorance and disease, the hypocrisy, rhetoric and lies of politicians, and growing corruption, suspicion and fear amongst the people.

It is a journey that will require forgiveness, reconciliation and healing between the communities.

It is a journey in which each is called to see the other as a gift. It is a journey that will only reach its destination through a transformed and participatory political vision as well as the patience and courage of all.

It is then that our people will be free to
dance and sing on the streets,
dream and discover themselves,
think and disagree,
relate and integrate,
be different but one,
and move and live without restriction.

'May God give us the courage to change the things we can,
the humility to accept the things we cannot change,
and the wisdom to know the difference.'

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
4th February 2008