Christmas is here again. Let me wish each and everyone of my network a merry Christmas.
It was amazing how yesterday the 24th of December 2015 had so many religions converging. It was Poya and one of the most holy days of significance for Sri Lankan Buddhist. It was the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (Sal); Peace be upon him. And it was Christmas Eve, moments before the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ. What an amazing opportunity for peace and yes it was so holy and peaceful.
It’s amazing to see Sri Lanka whose Christian population is a minority celebrates Christmas like in any predominantly Christian county. A drive a round the city with all the decorations will make this evident. I have non-Christian friends who decorate their homes with Christmas trees. What an amazing mindset to have.
Lets take this feeling of unity, peace and happiness deep in to the hearts and minds of all people in our beautiful country and the people in this world so that we can have unity, peace and happiness in our families, work places, societies, countries and between countries.
It was really heart warming to see the visions and hear the sound bites of the Inter-faith conference held in Colombo Sri Lanka as a part of the visit by His Holiness Pope Francis on the 1st day of his 3 day visit to Sri Lanka. The conference was led by some of the most senior leaders of Buddhism [followed by the majority of Sri Lankans], Hinduism, Islam and other Christian religions. It was attended by over 1000 members of the clergy of each of the religions. The ceremony included a welcome from a Catholic Bishop, a chant from a Buddhist Monk, blessings from Hindu and Muslim leaders, and an ecumenical Christian prayer led by the head of Sri Lanka’s Anglican church. Each speaker had a message that had peace, unity, reconciliation and respect for each other. Pope Francis said inter-faith work should not blur the lines between different religious convictions and he sought to reaffirm respect for each religion’s beliefs but to ground such respect in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions and that religion cannot be used for violent purposes. The Sri Lankan Muslim leader Ash-Sheikh M.F.M. Fazil said, “I will fail in my duties if I do not mention the attack, the killings, that took place in France, in Pakistan,” Fazil said; “Children were massacred and killed in the name of Islam. As we know very well, Islam has no relationship with regard to such practices and evil conduct and deeds,” he continued. “Islam promoted peace, love, and harmony.One of Sri Lanka’s senior Buddhist leaders Niyangoda Vijithasiri Thero who delivered a sermon mentioned all religions are important and used the metaphor of different treatment methods to cure the same disease.
Sri Lanka’s newly elected president, Maithripala Sirisena, was at the airport to welcome the pontiff and in his welcome speech mentioned that he is blessed to have the Holy father visit soon after his elections and requested for his prayers. This is significant coming from a Buddhist, the 1st citizen of a Buddhist country.
The Mass by the pope was not only attended by the Buddhist but by members of other religions and many of them had mentioned to the media that this is one of the most significant days of their life. All this augurs well for inter-faith corporation and understanding that can lead to peace, unity and reconciliation. The world has seen many efforts of unity by world leaders.
In December 2014 President Barack Obama went in to a peace deal with Cuba with a symbolic prisoner exchange and anticipated reforms by Cuba and lifting of embargos by the USA. In January 2015 all political parties in Sri Lanka united to appoint a President known for his virtues and to form a government that will reform the political culture in Sri Lanka. A few days ago most world leaders gathered in Paris to show solidarity after the attacks in Paris. It was significant that both the leaders of Israel and Palestine were a part of the world leaders who had locked hands together in solidarity. In the backdrop of the various conflicts, terrorism and armed conflicts going on around the world, these are efforts to find love, peace, truth, justice, reconciliation, unity, progress and happiness to make our efforts to finding love, peace, truth, justice, reconciliation, unity, progress and happiness to make our world a better place.
With the celebrations of winning the world T20 2014 Cricket title still riding high and the entire nation positively charged, it would be a good time to reflect on the leadership lessons.
Lesson 1: Never give up: After having won the cricket 50 over world cup in 1996, Sri Lankan cricket has had ups and downs. Ups, mostly because of the cricket infrastructure in the country producing brilliant talent and downs mainly attributed to cricketing politics and administration. Sri Lanka has come to the finals of many a world level tournaments and ended up runner-up. This time around too, many were having fears of another loss in a final, but things went Sri Lanka’s way, not by accident but by design. Therefore leaders keep learning from mistakes, growing with challenges until they reach the target.
Lesson 2: Team work : While Sri Lanka became the world T20 Cricket champs no Sri Lankan player featured in the top 5 run scorers or wicket takers in the tournament. This is due to all players contributing their very best when conditions required them. Therefore a player like Kumar Sangakkara who failed to score much during all the games during the run up to the final, showed up and became the match winner at the final. A player like Rangana Herath who bowled Sri Lanka to victory in the crucial match against New Zealand was not very suitable for the conditions in some other matches. The player of the tournament was from India, the runner-up. Therefore there are no individual winners, but the team wins. Continue reading “Big Leadership Lessons from Little Sri Lanka”→
Watching Malala Yousofzai speaking at the UN on her 16th birthday about a year after she was shot on the head and neck by the Taliban, motivated me to write this blog on Courage.
While her entire speech was inspiring and can be watched in the embedded video, I would like to quote the following part to illuminate this blog;
“Dear brothers and sisters; do remember one thing. Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. There are hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for human rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goals of education, peace and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them.
So here I stand… one girl among many.
I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys.
I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.
Those who have fought for their rights: Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.
I recently received an email from a friend that had an inspiring story. On researching the story for authenticity I had to do a few amendments to it to make it more factual. An article by General Edward L. Rowny confirms the authenticity of the meeting of the two great men featured in the story. While I cannot confirm the authenticity of the details of the story the overall event is factual and worth sharing.
A young, 18 year old student and a friend of his decided to host a musical concert in Stanford University in 1892 to raise money for a worthy cause.
They reached out to the great pianist Ignacy J. Paderewski. His manager demanded a guaranteed fee of $2,000 for the piano recital. A deal was struck. And the boys began to work to make the concert a success.
Wish you all a happy new year, Subho nababarsho [Bengali], Sawatdii pimaï [Thai], Hnit thit ku mingalar pa [Burmese], Naya Barsa Ko Hardik Shuvakamana [Nepali], Nav varsh ki subhkamna [Hindi], Iniya puthandu nal Vazhthukkal [Tamil], Suba nava vasarak wewa [Sinhalese]
This is an amazing time for many countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia when most of us celebrate the traditional New Year. The New Year is celebrated between 13th to the 15th of April in India, Nepal, Myanmar [Burma], Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
In addition to being united by the dates of the celebration that runs across all these countries, all of these cultures have common rituals such as cleaning their houses, cooking fresh new food, dressing in new clothes of designated colours, visiting relations & friends, enjoying traditional music and taking part in religious rituals.
There is beautiful diversity in the variety of traditions being used in different countries and states. From lighting small oil lamps and dressing in flowers in India, taking a ritual wash or bath in the Hunumantay River in Nepal, Mehendi body painting and face painting in Bangladesh, the water festivals in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia and following of the auspicious times to light the fire, boil milk, take a bath, exchange gifts and go to work etc. in Sri Lanka.
Easter is a time that reminds us of how Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose from death. This has a lot of meaning for all of us to live a meaningful life.
Firstly as Jesus who was all good and helped so many people through simple acts and miracles was accused and was branded as a criminal. That is because those who judged him used different yardsticks to judge Jesus and had ulterior motives. We may also do all good, help people and do an honest job, but there will always be people who find ways of showing us that we are criminals or having committed mistakes in companies, personal life etc. We may be punished in an unwarranted manner.
Secondly Jesus had the power to save himself as he has performed so many miracles. But he did not use that power without the approval of the god almighty. He knew there was a bigger plan and he had to go through the suffering to achieve greater growth. We too may have the power to save ourselves, but we should not use it without the right authority. When we are put through challenges we must have faith that we are put through it for a bigger reason that we may even not understand.
Thirdly Jesus rose from his death. While we do not have the power to rise from a physical death, we have the power to rise from the depths that we fall to. We may lose our valuable possessions but we can re-gain them. We may lose our health to sickness but we can recover from it. We may fall into a bad, self-destructing habit but we can recover from it. We may lose our job but we can recover and get a better job. We may lose in a relationship but we can start a better relationship. In short we have the power to rise from any depth and this Easter is a reminder of this powerful truth.
So let me wish you happy rising from your depth this Easter.