Finding Identity

I am not sure if most of you readers have kept up with the recent addition to this world’s extensive list of crises, the plummeting of the already fragile Sri Lankan economy. Being a 16-hour plane journey away from where your roots first saw light brings a very complicated relationship with finding one’s identity (well for myself at least). 

There is a heavy sense of guilt that weighs on me. Guilty that I got the chance to move out of the unstable reality of making means in an economy like Sri Lanka’s. 

It’s taken me a couple of days now to get to this point with this particular post, in my mind lies a battle of whether I am worthy of speaking on this topic. Am I worthy to write about this on my expensive laptop while sipping a barista coffee? Does my privilege allow this?

While fighting these intrusive thoughts, I recall some advice that was given to me, that declared something along the lines of…if you are silent, you are as bad as the perpetrator, and politics is personal. It is extremely personal if the current misogynistic, sexist, and racist systems exist only to serve the rich, the man, and the ‘dominant race’. 

What is happening right now on my beautiful little island that comprises a truly colourful culture? A culture that tickles your taste buds with culinary bliss, a culture that will send goosebumps down your spine from stories of pre and post-colonial times, and a landscape that will bring your eyes a tear and jaw to the floor? All of this is currently hanging in the balance of a very corrupt and greedy family who has robbed this precious land of all it has.

It has pushed those already on the edges of society over the edge, they wonder each night if they can get their hands on a loaf of bread or some milk to sustain their health. I am no expert at the math of this but the economy is essentially fucked, and essential resources we take for granted in New Zealand have become so scarce that precious lives are standing in lines for countless hours to accumulate what they can to survive. 

This is not a plea for you readers to send donations to Sri Lanka or a ‘pick me’ plea to highlight this crisis on your Instagram feeds. I write this selfishly, and also perhaps to encourage you to ground yourself to appreciate the basic necessities we have such easy access to. The freedoms we have to pick up a loaf of bread for under $1, the freedom to switch on your bedside table with guaranteed light for your nighttime read, and the freedom of a steam shower after your day at work. 

So maybe as a wee exercise, step away from your screen, take your shoes off, close your eyes and press your feet to the ground. Connect your entire being to the ground, and reflect. Use this moment to be present, and appreciate all that you have. 

And maybe try to practice not normalizing unrest and terror in countries that do not present as white. We can dismantle these subconscious categorizing by simply just talking about it with your family, friends, or to that stranger who always chats while both of you wait for your oat milk coffees.

Published by Shawn Wimalaratne


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