Tuesday, June 18, 2019
The more I survey the scene here in Sri Lanka, the more I am convinced of the value of Frank Buchman's life work towards a moral revolution. Without it all is lost! We are currently emerging from the horrors of a terror attack by Muslim extremists which saw more than 250 innocent souls, most of whom were attending Easter services, meet a chilling end. The Christians, in the main, responded with understandable anguish yet with no retaliation. However politicians and 'invisible hands' have taken advantage of the situation to further their political agenda. In so doing, they have driven a sharp wedge between the religions and ensuring that ALL Muslims are demonised. The 21 April calamity has made the reconciliation work of Bridging Lanka all the more challenging.
 
In March last year Buddhist monks led an unprecedented attack against Muslims in 14 towns across Kandy District. Their followers went on a rampage destroying Muslim homes, businesses, mosques and lives. Unvieling of plaque at the town of Ambala. Photo credit: Jeremy Liyanage It triggered a national state of emergency. However, there was one town, Ambala, where local Buddhists bucked the trend and instead protected their Muslim neighbours. The Muslims were  profoundly appreciative but did not know how to convey their gratitude. Bridging Lanka worked with them to organise a special public event acknowledging the kindness and compassion of these Buddhists. The local Muslims even inscribed their sentiments on a granite plaque which was unveiled before more than four hundred Buddhists. The event was deeply moving and unifying.
 
Bridging Lanka continues to work tirelessly to address the growing chasm between Sinhalese and Muslims. IofC Australia stalwart, Nigel Heywood, joined our team in Sri Lanka for two months last year undertaking deep research into the causal factors behind the communal violence and in search of meaningful ways towards civic repair and restoring trust.  The most recent acts of violence have certainly curtailed our efforts but certainly not our determination as we continue to recruit, person by person, to our moral revolution of reconciliation and love. 
 
Jeremy Liyanage is a Sri Lankan by birth. He is a community development practitioner and advocate for reconciliation. He founded Bridging Lanka in 2010 which aims to build bridges across ethnic, religious and geographic divides through people-inspired action. For more information, contact jeremy.liyanage@gmail.com