Sri Lanka Unites recently had a press conference, which I missed. SLU is a group that connects kids from all over the island and gives them a free space to make reconciliation work. A lot of people talk about this, but they’ve actually organized successful conference and a bus tour visiting schools around the island. Looks like the next thing is to publish writing by kids from all over the island.
I really support SLU cause they do real work on the ground. A lot of people talk about building shared spaces or reconciliation, but few actually physically gather young people to make it happen. Many people talk about the conditions for reconciliation, or why reconciliation can’t happen, or what’s going wrong, which doesn’t make anything happen. SLU actually just gets it done, and for this they get some criticism. I’d like to address one criticism here, that SLU doesn’t ‘educate’ kids on war crimes or the wrongs of the government or make them a force for resistance or radical change.
I’ll get into it more, but I have to go get the cat neutered. Let’s just start by saying that we have more to learn from these kids than they have to learn from us, which is why I’m anticipating the release of their writing. We spoilt generations by indoctrinating them with various messages, be they communist or separatist or what and they simply lost their youth, and often their live.
What this generation needs is what some sociologists call a ‘relaxed field’. I’ve read this in reference to play, it’s a space suspended from day to day survival where the young of a species can experiment and learn and have fun. This actually has paramount value, like any sort of education, despite being immediately useless. For art, also, it’s necessary to explore a space free of normal social and political constraints to find the beautiful, true and new.
SLU events are not at all devoid of content, but I think they do provide a sort of relaxed field for reconciliation. They bring kids together and let them share what’s important to them, not what donors or someone else thinks should be important. That’s why I think they’ve been so successful, and why I wish them the best of luck going forward.
Check out Sri Lanka Unites on Facebook.