Benefit from our cultural history


We should be grateful as a nation for the very forthright letter of Ashley de Vos published in The Island of 21 Jan 2020 on Urban Planning. I have not read his earlier three articles, but that does not matter because what I say is in response to the second half of his latest letter. I think the title of the article should have been (at least the second half) "Could we at last put the horse in front of the cart as a revised concept for National planning"

I quote at length from de Vos's letter to make my point; having nothing to add myself.

Quote: "Should we not stop to think and evolve better and more sustainable results in our city planning? Solutions that are more appropriate and suitable to tropical Sri Lanka, its friendly people, rich environment, high biodiversity and flora."

"Could we for a moment forget about copying what others have done or doing,"

"Our students are fed on an overdose of Google driven material, smart phones and books by authors who conduct research addressing the issues they have encountered under totally different conditions in their own countries."

"Is it possible to build back this lost environment? YES, it is possible, WE CAN". (capitals added by me)

"All scenic views and large water bodies should be carefully protected, retained, and conserved and secured by legislation for their pristine and exceptional beauty, which is an important part of what Sri Lanka is all about."

"No development that anyway mars or is detrimental to the retention of this pristine sacredness should be allowed."

"A question worth asking is how human are we or are we being manipulated by both local as well a foreign media to change and to think differently. To be totally inculcated in a preparatory European mind set of manufactured news, to be immersed fully in the globalisation debate. Considering that Kissinger once stated that "Globalisation is the Americanisation of the world", is this what the media wishes to feed the innocent citizens of this country, a carefully marketed diet based heavily on short lived visceral pleasure and copycat lifestyle centred on momentary excitement, ultimately leading to the creation of very rich cosmopolitan elite leaving the majority extremely poor and in debt. The media will push as hard as possible to achieve this unsustainable end. But is this what the normal person encompassed in the rich cultural history of this island deserves? is this what the people want? Most of Asia enjoyed centuries of critical thought till four hundred years of colonisation created a confusion through an education system that concentrated on producing managers, scientists and workers for the products created by the industrial revolution. A European model deriding everything that had gone before, faithfully followed even today in an education system that teaches students to get through exams but not to think. There is a need to urgently revise this descent into the dark abyss."

(I think Mr de Vos is a bit unfair by the media.)

"We have to build a Sri Lanka that will not become a cheap clone of the global debate but a clone that has evolved immersed and benefiting from the rich cultural history of this island. An island whose history is not limited to that of this island, but one that encompasses the whole region." Unquote

It is said that if one person's views are different from the current thinking he is called a crank. If another person joins him, it is said that they have a point of view. However, if three people express the same views they are called a pressure group. I think there are hundreds if not thousands of Sri Lankans who would wholeheartedly agree with de Vos's expressed sentiments. Therefore, let Mr de Vos's letter be the beginning of a wider movement to save our beloved country. I have met people who say, "yes I agree with you, but what can one person do? I will only be hitting my head against a brick wall" What they forget is that if lots of people hit with their heads together, even a brick wall will fall.


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