Let us talk about freedom in the country and freedom of the people. Is there freedom for plants, trees and animals? Generally speaking we are living in a country where there is little or no freedom for people and even for nature. Let us talk freely on this. There are a few issues and we [...]


Learn to be independent and secure the country


Let us talk about freedom in the country and freedom of the people. Is there freedom for plants, trees and animals? Generally speaking we are living in a country where there is little or no freedom for people and even for nature. Let us talk freely on this. There are a few issues and we will discuss them.

Our people fought for freedom even before the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British came. We got our Independence in 1948. After that we got the freedom from a 30-year war. Is our country free 100% now? When I was 14, our Dayaka Sabha President D E Wijewardene gave medicine to our chief prelate for a leg injury. He was the younger brother of D.R. Wijewardene.
D E Wijewardene told our chief prelate, “Venerable Sir, I studied in England and worked under others. After I came to Sri Lanka, I did not work under others. I believe that it is due to our past evil deeds that we have to work under somebody.”

I heard this when I was small and I was thinking on this for sometime. To work under somebody and to be paid by somebody is a result of our bad deeds in a previous birth. To take something that belongs to another unlawfully is bad. How many are independent today?

Think of this. We are not talking about children here. Children should be under the parents. If they are punished by the parents, they must bear it. It is not losing freedom. But once you become an adult, if you are not able to be independent and free, then there is a problem. If you are living under somebody then you have no freedom. There is a problem here. This lack of freedom even affects the country. This knowledge has not been given. If the country is losing freedom, it is our fault. It is time we realised this and got back to our proper place. Otherwise both the country and we will not be free in the future.

In the past, people were afraid to commit a misdeed. To get divorced after marrying was considered something shameful. Today people have neither freedom nor even shame. People have lost the feeling of shame and self-respect because of sinister moves. When we have lost then, we stoop to do any shameful act. This can come because of the situation at home, in school or from those whom we associate with. Where is the freedom when we do something shameful? It is not only applicable to marriage, but affects everything in life. Not only animals, but even plants and trees require freedom. If they do not have freedom, we will lose oxygen and become sick.

Recently a person living close to a forest informed me that about 20 to 25 years ago, there was a herd of more than 300 deer. Today, there are only 10. This was due to the fact that machine guns were used by greedy people to kill these animals and eat their flesh. This shows even our wild animals have lost their freedom. This happens when people become imbalanced.

Tourism is supposed to be thriving in the south partly because of the deer hunting. People like to eat meat that they had not eaten. They will eat wild boar, sambhur, deer and even water monitor and peacock meat. Some are inclined to hunt animals that are protected species. This is because our people are bent on doing illegal things and they seem to take pleasure in doing so. There were recent media reports about hunting in Nuwara Eliya. There are hunters everywhere. Even in the Yala sanctuary and in other forests, animals are being hunted to cater to the tourist hotel industry.

Some fishermen when a small fish is caught throw it back to the water to catch it when it is big. There is patience there. When there is no patience and discipline there are problems. It is because of this that they shoot at the full herd of deer. We will soon suffer the consequences of our own indiscipline. They are killing elephants even for the hair, which fetches a good price. It is said that when we wear an elephant hair, you will be successful in life. So many people want to wear it. There are no miracles in this. People with twisted minds are bent on these practices. They don’t allow even the innocent animals to live freely.

There is a principle that if we cut one tree, we should plant ten trees. The Gangaramaya has planted thousands of trees. But this trend is not seen very much in our country. Some of our forests have been fully destroyed. We have lot of benefits from the trees. Recently I wrote about cutting young trees to be used as props in construction industry and called for legislation to stop this. These plants which are cut today for props could have become valuable trees in 10 to 15 years. Realize how valuable this would be? Why do we cut down young trees for props and mammoty handles?

There are businessmen responsible for this act. A small plant is prevented from becoming a tree. I saw some of these cut pieces that were sold as props and brought them to the Gangaramaya. These were valuable Mahogany plants. By cutting these plants, nature has lost a valuable component. Who is going to rectify this? To earn a mere Rs. 50 or 100 we cut and sell these plants. If they are allowed to grow for another 10 years one can earn at least Rs. 50,000.

If trees are allowed to grow freely, they will grow healthily. Cutting of these plants is a crime. Where are those who are governing the country, the wild life officials, corporations and those responsible? Where are the laws? They detect lorries carrying big timber logs, but ignore lorries carrying props. They say there are no laws for this or they have been bribed. One poor family had cut 12 Mahogany plants that we planted. They were used as broom sticks. When I took legal action, the Police and the Army tried to come for a settlement. I did not agree. I did not give in to the requests of high officers. The law is applicable to all. If they knew that these were planted trees, they should not have been cut. Why did they resort to this action?

Prisons are full of inmates. Why can’t they make use of these prisoners to build a road around the country’s coastline? Why am I asking that a road be built around the country? The country is not secure. Anyone can enter this country from the sea. We blame the customs when illegal goods enter the country. Boats take people to countries like Australia. They are not using the ports to depart. Drugs enter the country by sea.

If we build a road around the country we will have a security shield around. At least we must make a gravel road, by getting the prisoners to build it. I advocated this to all governments to make use of prisoners to build a road. The terrorists first attacked us by sea. In the future too this might happen. All illegal trades are taking place by boat. If we have a road all this can be stopped. We will have internal security. We must learn from history and correct these things; otherwise we will fail again in the future.

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