United not Divided
by Paramie Jayakody
Artwork by Sachi Ediriweera
Pacing. Breathing. Your heart thudding. The world blurring around you. Shouts. Screams. Sobs. Pain.
This was what yesterday was for us, us Sri Lankans who were caught off guard by 8 bomb blasts after nearly a decade of tentative peace in the country. Bomb after bomb exploded, some in churches, some in hotels. Destruction and devastation were left behind. The dead? More than 200.
But through a nation mourning, there was something else that was different. Everywhere you looked, there were people saying “machan please don’t share photos or videos” or “guys please don’t post unconfirmed stuff”. Everyone was collectively and consciously instantly responding to make sure legitimate news was the only news being spread, and that too, in a respectful and clean manner.
A nation’s strength in the face of tragedy
Moments after the national blood bank announced a shortage of blood, it was flooded, where volunteers were willing to risk their own lives, regardless of race or religion, to help the injured.
People mourned with friends and family, yet didn’t hesitate to spread around the news of missing people, as though each one was their own. Also being circulated were emergency contact details and blood donation requirements.
Messages circulated hard and fast through the networks
Private hospitals offered ambulance and medical services free of charge. Paramedics, psychological volunteer teams and animal rescue services scattered throughout the areas, lending a helping hand.
Through all of this, the police and military once again did a service that is unrepayable, by putting themselves on the front line and spearheading the task of finding the other bombs, and apprehending the suspects.
Social media was overwhelmed, not with people intent on revenge or calling out for blood, but with people sharing positivity, love, hope, compassion, and unity. While the death toll mounted, so did the quiet strength of the community pledging not to give in to war and conflict. #NotAgain was the strongest statement of all.
Sri Lankan citizens are displaying exemplary behaviour
Even when the unstable political situation went into turmoil, and an entire nation felt betrayed by the very people we elected to protect us, we still stood strong. While people called out for prominent political figures to resign, conflict or blame games were still not allowed to surface.
Considering all that, it is a shame that other countries are trying to stir up the cauldron and jump to conclusions, maybe to further their own political agenda. Blatant accusations and racism (the kind you would expect from the country that was actually attacked) unexpectedly surfaced in various media, backed up by a few Sri Lankans who are yet to reach the maturity of a nation who suffered 30 years of conflict.
The difference between SL and other countries is clear
My fellow citizens, don’t fall prey to international media tossing around accusations. A person and a nation that hasn’t gone through recent conflict cannot be expected to reach the maturity displayed by a multi-ethnic country that has, for 30 years. Let’s rise above this conflict, and not let other people break what has become our strongest crisis reaction to date.