A very good morning to all Sri Lankans in the tri state area of New York and outside.
The most venerable Aluthgama Dhammajothi Thero, chief incumbent of the New York Buddhist Vihara at Queens
The revered Mr. Ravi Vaidyanath Sivachariya, director of religious affairs of the Hindu Temple society of North America, New York
The revered Mr. Hisham Navaz the former imaam of the Sri Lanka muslim community in north america
Reverend Father Sylvester Jayakody of the monastery of St. Jospehs in New Jersey
We thank you for your presence and the blessings invoked on Sri lanka and its people on this very auspicious day when sri lanka celebrates its 74th anniversary of independence.
It is also with warm hearts that we thank His Excellency the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, H.E the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and our Foreign Minister the Hon. Prof. G.L. Peris for their messages to felicitate this occasion, and for the leadership that is given to our country in holding the course in these difficult times in our journey towards new horizons of true freedom and real progress.
We are also deeply grateful to H.E Ambassador Tirumurti of the Republic of India, Ambassador Akram from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Her Excellency Ambassador Rabab from Bangladesh, Ambassador Dorma from Bhutan, Ambassador Amrith from Nepal and Ambassador Thilmeeza from Maldives, my fellow ambassadors at the United Nations who represent the SAARC group of countries for their warm messages of friendship, and to the other Permanent Representatives of the United Nations for their messages of felicitation on this occasion.
I cannot but also thank my colleagues of the diplomatic core at my own mission and my staff for their support without which this event would not have been an easy one to put in place in a virtual environment.
And finally, to my fellow Sri Lankans in the tri state area of New York and those outside in North America for supporting Sri Lanka through the 73 years of its independence.
My dear friends,
Sri Lankans value independence and self determination placing importance on the role of the individual in shaping his or her own identity and destiny through one's choices, abilities and efforts. The independence that Sri Lanka fosters is one that promotes a citizens ability to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, to be able to do what is necessary to create a fulfilling life for oneself and for one's family.
The celebration of Independence which is also synonymous with one's freedom or liberty, also represents the limited intervention and control of the government on the personal lives of us citizens. This notion of independence comes directly from the supreme law of the land, the constitution of our Republic.
We have been an independent nation for the last 73 years having been freed from the shackles of our colonial masters, we are a free people to pursue our own Sri Lankan dreams whether that is education, starting a business or leading our own self created lifestyle. During this period of independence the independent choices that sri lankans make are visible in the different facets of our lives. Sri Lankan parents teach their children self sufficiency by offering premium education to every one of them to the highest level possible. In the workplace employees are free to forge their own career paths and not depend on a paternalistic sponsor to pave their way. In public life sri Lankans are free to vote for their candidate of choice and to voice their pleasure or disagreement to their elected officials, and they enjoy the freedom of association. In their private lives Sri lankans are free to live wherever they wish, socialize with whom they select and practice their chosen religion. To put it in a few words, the independence that we have nourished over the years and enjoy today creates the opportunities for Sri Lankans to determine their own lives free from authoritarian control and social convention.
We as an independent nation pursue the belief that all humans are created equal and are equal in value without regard to their gender, race, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation. This belief has influenced national political movements and local community action groups. The hallowed principle that one should treat others as you would like to be treated and to love your neighbor as yourself has been embedded in the foundation of our constitution that encourages people to deal with others in a kind and fair manner. The independence that we enjoy today in public life embodies the commitment to provide and enforce the equality of opportunity; access to goods and services and equal rights, representation, and protection under the law. In private interactions average citizens do not look to the upper classes to determine societal norms but rather determine their own guidelines. It is visibly seen that within this independence Sri Lankans whilst showing respect to their hierarchical superiors do not give up the ability to give their opinions or state their rights.
My dear friends, the independence we have enjoyed and nourished over the years has given rise to an egalitarianism declared constitutionally which states that all men are created equal. Even with these changes that have taken place over a period of time there is much room for improvement in creating an egalitarian society. We must work towards individualism, or individual will, which means that each person is free to do what they want and need as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. In an independent Sri Lanka competition is inherent in individualism as people strive to be recognized and rewarded.
Today independent Sri Lanka enjoys a democratic form of government where citizens elect and change their political leaders whom they expect will represent them and answer to their will. As a democratic nation we enjoy free and fair elections, we have a system of checks and balances to control the rule by the majority and for the protection of minorities. We recognize the concept of limited government.
My dear friends let us be thankful for the independence and freedom we enjoy within this democracy. Independence you will enjoy is not merely political independence, we must continue to maintain a stoic response to maintain an indepence that is free from poverty, free from hunger, free from injustices, free from disease, free from terrorism, free from the effects of climate change, free from the menace of illegal narcotics and psychotropic substances, free from corruption and from economic ruin, if we are to emerge as a new nation in the new normal.
The pandemic you will appreciate has offered us a new opportunity to create these new freedoms and to build back better so that none of us will be left behind. The future therefore my dear friends is in our hands.
Let us not forget the fact that freedom came to us as a gift from our forefathers. Let us therefore respect, protect and value this precious gift so that we may never lose it.
We gather here today, on this precipice of the future. It's not a distant reality anymore, it begins now, it begins today. No matter where we go or what we do there are challenges ahead of us. What I am asking from each one of our citizens, including myself, is to meet those challenges head on with your head held high and arms wide open. It is not enough to simply get by in life, that does not move the country forward. We must try to excel in everything we do, strive for excellence in every task however small or large. Although you may not easily see it, every accomplishment you achieve is added to the world's accomplishments. Your individual successes benefit the country and society as a whole because when you succeed you lighten the burden on our fellow men, when you succeed you are in a position to give rather than take.
I am appealing to every individual to live up to his or her potential. That would surely result in a quantum leap in the development of our country and contribute to the world order in a large measure.
The challenge we have for ourselves here today is to do all that we can do to reach our full potential. The future is truly in our hands so let us pledge today on this very important occasion of independence day to make the most of it.
You will appreciate that the 3 core universal values of equality, freedom, and self government are entrenched in a constitution that is autochthonous that serves as the people's common bond. As we celebrate independence day it helps us to increase in self confidence to trust in ourselves to be competent in the situations we confront and a boost in self esteem which will surely give us a positive outlook. So I do sincerely wish this day of independence that we celebrate today would not be another day in the calendar of events but one in which we remind ourselves of the importance of some of our inalienable rights including life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that all men are created equal and that individuals have a civic duty to defend these rights for themselves and others.
Finally I would like to invite each and everyone of you to join with me in upholding the constitutional values upon which our country is solidly structured upon, so as to ensure that these values that form the bedrock of societal norms would remain to be an icon of an independent democracy for the years to come in which all its citizenry irrespective of ethnicity, cultural and religious diversity, would live as brothers and citizens of one sri lankan family in peace and in dignity.
I wish each and everyone of you a very happy independence day that will touch your hearts and souls to the realization that we must do our best for Sri Lanka, our motherland, in whatever way possible, wherever we are. I wish you the blessings of the Triple Gem and the blessings of almighty God in all your endeavors.
I thank you.