I blog for Change…

As I attempt to orient the windy and often treacherous roads that encapsulate life, here are some of my thoughts on the successes, failures and ultimately the hope and positivity in which I strive for a better world. I also hope that I can use this blog as a platform to elevate the social justice issues that are somewhat forgotten in the modern discourse of staying silent on issues that challenge. Sx

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Let go of what no longer serves you.

If you were to believe in astrology or planetary alignments, you would have heard by now that the year has started with a fair few equinoxes, transit points and full moon eclipses. In theory this is supposed to represent a time of upheaval and change which presents us an opportunity to pull back, reflect and then propel ourselves into the future anew. For one reason or another, I have felt compelled to embark on a few decisions and initiatives lately that may seem uncharacteristic of my nature. But I can’t help thinking fit into this astrological theory of upheaval. These actions have had many in my life question the reasons and logic behind them and perhaps this reflection may serve as an indication of the thoughts and intent behind my decision to pursue them.

I think I have been guilty in the past of allowing life to ‘happen’ to me with a sort of victim mentality. When things haven’t gone ‘to plan’, instead of accepting this fate and reformulating a newly tailored approach, I have given into a higher cause or power dictating a miserable path in my life and thereby abdicated my own responsibility within it all. In the years that have recently past, I’ve been ok with doing this but for some reason, I can’t allow it to go on anymore. I’ve felt a strong drive to be more intentional about my future and to let go of the things that no longer serve me. I suppose it’s accurate to say, that a combination of forces of perhaps the universe, and my own sense of purpose are currently allowing things/people/objects to leave my life in order to find the ones that are truly destined for me.

Perhaps it is necessary every now and then to do a life spring clean. This doesn’t represent the need to throw half your metaphorical belongings out but instead it presents us with the opportunity to reflect on what we currently have in front of us. Not all interactions, relationships and/or situations are supposed to be permanent. Some are simply destined to come into our lives to teach us a lesson.

Through all of this, I’ve come to realise the importance of stopping to assess our progress in life every now and then. It’s so easy to get lost and caught up in the daily grind without being able to reflect on whether the journey we are leading ourselves on is still on course or has veered off into a direction that isn’t representational of our intentions or aspirations.

In one way or another, I have noticed a shift in my life. For the first time in a long time, I am thinking about my journey, my path and what is right for me. I’ve allowed my empathetic innate nature to absorb the negativities in not only my life, but those around me as well and the toxicity of it all has previously saddened me into the false sense of a lack of control. But the truth is, if I truly want to live a life that is moral, just and free of hypocrisy, then I am going to have make some uncomfortable and most likely unconventional decisions about the course of action to take that is ahead of me. I am prepared for this.



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Religion, Faith & Hypocrisy?

Religion is a concept that I have pondered long and hard about. I was brought up in a household where Christianity formed the pillar point of everyday life. However, as the years went by and I reached adulthood, I began to be more and more aware of the cracks that existed by steadfastly holding supreme to these values without question. I watched as my family members toted messages of love, peace and tolerance as stated within the messages of Christianity and yet turned around and instead spouted hatred, ignorance and intolerance towards each other. It seemed to be an excuse to interact in this manner, as long as one offset this behaviour by visiting a religious institute once a week, making a substantial donation and confessing their wrongdoings. What I was always baffled by was, why not just be kind, gracious and loving in every instance so that the need to repent was less extreme. The hypocritical nature of this cycle has never ceased to baffle me.

Religion and one’s relationship with the relevant deity is no doubt extremely personal in nature. What matters seems not to be how one attempts to manipulate beliefs to purge themselves of responsibility to match actions with deeds. Shouldn’t the approach to faith instead focus on living out ones beliefs by placing the onus of this onto ourselves and remembering that every individual’s practice of belief is unique to their own circumstance. I can’t count the amount of times I was accused of being a ‘bad Christian’, I saw the worst examples of hypocrisy, intolerance and hate speech spat out of the mouths of those who proclaimed to be true believers. The one thing that I remember thinking is, if this is religion, I want no part of it.

For such a long time I have held onto these memories and recoiled in a sense of disgust and sheer confusion when the question of faith has been posed to me. The truth is, I myself do pray at least once daily. I actively engage in conversations with an entity beyond me, however, I have began to understand that I am not sure who it is exactly that I am praying to. What’s become clearer as time has gone on in this is that I myself don’t buy into any form of thought that sets out to actively bully, criticise or humiliate. I refuse to believe that the deity or supreme being that exists out there is one that would exclude or discriminate based on someone’s sexual orientation, the way they choose to practice their beliefs or how they live their life if it doesn’t fall into some rigid and outdated box.

Religion, faith and belief is fluid like anything else in this world. It grows and changes with time and is dependent on practicability and the personal nature of its interactions with and between human beings. It is about choice and anyone who claims to wield it will understand that they are not of the ability or right to pass judgment on how someone else decides to live out their beliefs. To be truly faithful is to understand that to be of religion is about the freedom to express ones spirituality however is deemed fit on an individual basis and as long as this centres around love, respect and mutuality I don’t see how this is unbeneficial to humanity.


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Economic Development, Stigma & Discrimination

I was confronted by an article last week that detailed the case of little boy in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka who was ousted from his school on suspicion of the fact that he had HIV. The article went on to list how the Sri Lankan Education officials were attempting to highlight to local villagers that the certainty of this boy’s condition was not assured and therefore the need to panic, for now, was not justified.

Is it just me or are these officials seemingly missing the point entirely?! Whether or not this child is HIV Positive is entirely beside the point. A fair and equal society should mean the same rights and responsibilities for all citizens aside from their ethnicity, race, religion or health condition. These officials should instead be conveying the need for social inclusion without discrimination. They should be educating their community members around principles of inclusivity and communal awareness raising.

Lately, people have often prompted questions in my direction about the role of NGOs in societies. I mean in a country like Sri Lanka, economic advancement has placed the nation in the upper tier of middle income countries. When looking at poverty index rates, the country is outperforming all other South Asian nations. Literacy rates are higher than 90% island wide, education enrolment rates soar above 96%, life expectancy is substantially higher than any other nation in the region; and yet the prevalence of basic principles towards inclusion and anti-discrimination seem to be non-existent.

What of elements of equality, rights and quality of life for those who find themselves on the margins of society? Who is protecting these people? Surely, they have a right to existence and most frighteningly, why are officials allowing this irrational mob mentality to preach messages of fear and hate resulting the displacement and isolation of one of its own?

I maintain, that in a nation like Sri Lanka, it remains the responsibility of civil society to lobby the government to promote messages of social inclusion through wide scale awareness raising. There is a continued need to promote equality within all elements of community, beginning at pre-school level and integrating children of all abilities, including those with stigma related illnesses such as HIV into mainstream schooling systems. It is through this mechanism, and only this mechanism that we can avoid the abhorrent and blatant discrimination that this boy had to endure at such an early stage of his life.

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In the Pursuit of Equality.

As we approach another celebration to commemorate International Women’s Day, I can’t help but reflect on the measurement of how much we have actually achieved thus far. On this day 1 out of 3 women in the Pacific are subject to domestic violence within their own households, levels of pay between men and women are still vastly different and determinant of gender, female foeticide and infanticide continues to plague the Global South and sexual harassment is a sadly accepted fact of society worldwide.

I’ve often heard conversations about the term ‘feminist’ and watched as people either cower in fear, retreat in disgust or proudly proclaim their commitment. There seems to be no in between when it comes to this ‘f’ word which seems to be touted in so much shame. I have felt such sadness that those of us who whole heartedly believe in gender equality have been forced to validate why it is that our opinion is as such. The generic response to the question of feminism tends to be, ‘I am an equalist’ or ‘I am a humanist’. If one stopped for a minute to consider this, what does it actually mean?

The question of gender equality is one that we can barely even come to, considering the fact that gender equity hasn’t even been achieved. The equal participation of women in all spheres of life is one that we cannot say we have even nearly embarked upon adequately. Even in the cases of traditional matrilineal societies, yes property is handed down through the female side of the family. However, who is it that then has control of how resources and access of these properties and how any income generated towards this endeavour is utilised? You’ll find that this is once again the male members of families.

It’s sad to say that even as of today, I as an independent, educated woman in a ‘developed’ country still fear many things within society because of my gender. I am fearful to walk alone at night, I am afraid of the societal discrimination I may face because I choose to invest in my career instead of my family life. Not to mention that if I were to flip this, I would be fearful that my career may meet an untimely demise once I procreate because of a lack of childcare and flexible working options. I am fearful that I live in a society in which victims of sexual violence are blamed because perhaps they were ‘asking for it’ by wearing that skirt, or showing some leg or having one too many drinks at dinner.

So I ask you, being mindful of all of the above, is the struggle against entrenched sexism over? I think not.