by Wimarshana Ranasinghe
Wimarshana Ranasinghe and her husband Shashika D’Silva are devoted to healing the wounds of war in Sri Lanka and enabling the country’s divided communities to trust each other.
After 30 years of conflict in our country we are at a stage where there is no visible violence. But the root causes of conflict still exist. My husband Shashi and I belong to the majority community, and we feel that our community has made other communities feel smaller than us. It is our responsibility to build trust with them.
We have held story sharing circles, peace circles, interfaith dialogues. During some of those events my husband Shashi has apologized to Tamils for what Sinhalese government had done to them. It is not easy to take responsibility for what you haven't done, for things that happened even before you were born.
Then last year our country was shaken again with the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.
We were disheartened. We had come out of a conflict against our fellow citizens, and now we were being divided again. So divided that if the Lord Buddha were to visit Sri Lanka today and speak his truth, he would be dismissed as another NGO worker who is trying to implement a European hidden agenda.
We were determined not to let this divide us. We needed to do more to build a connection with others, so that they know we will be there for them whatever happens.
Whenever I go and interact with other communities, they are curious to know my ethnicity and my religion. After listening to what I say they feel able to share their pain and the wounds they carry. So deep friendship has grown. When Shashi and I married, it was a great joy to see some of our Tamils friends experiencing their first Sinhalese wedding.
The foundation of trust is accountability, integrity and vulnerability. How much are we prepared to be vulnerable in front of each other’s communities, to talk about what can be improved, what needs to be changed as Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims still don’t feel we are one community as Sri Lankans.
We won’t lose hope, whatever we have done we will continue to do, until one day we can say not only Sri Lanka but the world stands as one family. Buddha said 'Visvasa Parama Ghathi' or ‘Trust is the best relative’. We are all related who seek the same truth.
Wimarshana Ranasinghe is a peace builder and a facilitator. She met the ideas of Initiatives of Change in 2012. In the last 7 years, she has been involved in various programs of IofC India and Sri Lanka and was part of Initiatives of Change for Life (IfL) - a 3-year outreach program. She is a certified trainer of Creators of Peace-Women Peace circles and is experienced with facilitating peace building & Nonviolent communication programs for Inter religious leaders, Government officers, Teachers, University Students and community leaders.
NOTE: Individuals of many cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs are actively involved with Initiatives of Change. These commentaries represent the views of the writer and not necessarily those of Initiatives of Change as a whole.