Inspite of all this, here’s why Sri Lankans are still a happy lot!
Sri Lankans are very very special, ironic it may be to say. But here’s why.
Given the political development yesterday where the 18th amendment to the constitution was implemented which effectively stifles democracy in Sri lanka unless something drastic takes place – the title of this blog post may be a bit of a paradox.
Enough has been said about the banes of the 18th amendment to the constitution, and it will serve no purpose for me to dwell on that any further, even though I must admit I found everything to do with the recent political developments in Sri Lanka extremely nauseating and very cringe worthy! Rather, this blog post is to speak about something diametrically different.
The Charities Aid Foundation published the World Giving Index yesterday. Here are the results, the higher ranked you are the more charitable you were found to be.
1. Australia 57%
1. New Zealand 57%
3. Ireland 56%
3. Canada 56%
5. Switzerland 55%
6. USA 55%
7. Netherlands 54%
8. Sri Lanka 53%
8. United Kingdom 53%
10. Austria 52%
The full report which is worth a download can be taken from here.
“Researchers compared the strength of the relationship between giving with a nation’s GDP and the happiness of its population. They found the link between well-being and giving was stronger than the link between wealth and giving (a correlation of 0.69 compared with a correlation of 0.58).
It means happy people give generously. Australia and New Zealand topped the index in the study, which CAF said was the largest of its kind.A CAF spokesman said: ‘It is clear that happiness plays an important role in whether people give.’” (link)
Seeing this gave me a good amount of joy to quell my disgust somewhat. Inspite of all the difficulties Sri Lankans have(mostly rural ), largely thanks to politicians on either side of the divide blatantly raping and bastardizing the country and her resources to foster their own fortunes, we still are a charitable and happy lot.
Sri Lankans are inherently nice people, most Europeans I speak to would testify to this, as I have also mentioned here.
Mind you, in that index Sri Lanka is the only third world country to be featured in the top ten, and Sri Lanka is surrounded by some of the richest European countries and Australia, New Zealand and the US. See, all these countries have citizens who are relatively comfortable in their lives even if they aren’t sometimes as rich as perceived. Most of these countries if not all, have very strong welfare systems that look after their citizens. If you’re unemployed you may get a loan, a stipend, a dole or any other form of financial support. So basically, they will never die of hunger or poverty like in some third world countries including those of Africa. And better still, their poverty levels never go beneath a certain standard, because their welfare system looks after them – a very reliable safety net if you like.
So these people can afford to give charity, it’s not going to hit their pocket as strongly as it would hit someone in a third world country. I am not dismissing their very noble charitable nature, just giving some perspective.
Sri Lanka doesn’t have a powerful welfare system. Her people live in misery whilst their politicians make merry. There is no minimum wage, other perks or generous welfare and benefit schemes which insulate Sri Lankans from economic difficulty. True, Sri Lankans are better off than most third world countries, given that despite all the hardships we have no one actually dying of poverty – possibly due to our own non-governmental human benefit and charity system where one feels accountable to the others wellbeing.
Inspite of all these, why oh why do we still manage a smile and are ever so charitable and hospitable? I can’t find any other reason other than the fact that Sri Lankans are an inherently nice bunch, fostered by a lot of things that are uniquely Sri Lankan.
But I have a worry; The Sri Lankan political system is extremely corrupt at the upper levels. Sri Lanka’s infamous neighbour too has a very corrupt political structure at the grassroots and a few rungs above – but relatively much more stable at the top, so I am told.
And what’s at the top usually permeates to the bottom.
The Sri Lankan to me is extremely sacrosanct, I sincerely hope and pray that it always stays that way and that the oxymoron’s in the you know what by the you know which lake have their conscience pricked and get their act together, so that I for one amongst other things will always be proud to call myself a Sri Lankan irrespective of whom I am standing in front of.
On a personal note, I find immense joy in the fact that the two places I call home, Sri Lanka and Britain are on the same footing when it comes to generosity – another reason why I love the people of both these countries.