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My audience matters!

As I sit in the aftermath of yesterday, the fact that my children are watching is something I am keenly aware of. For many of us, yesterday brought back hazy memories of July 1983. For some of us, we have never discussed that incident with our parents, let alone our children. Yet I only need to go on social media to hear the voice of the wronged Tamil, Muslim, Burger speak out.

As a mother, I am also keenly aware that I have an audience every time. All the time. My reactions, words and feelings are being watched and I am responsible.

While I am deeply grieved at our country’s current state, I am more aware of my influence in the lives of my children. Here are 3 resolutions I hope to work on today and in the coming days:

1. What I say matters

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit,” the book of Proverbs.

My words matter and despite the feelings of hopeless that arise as we watch footage, read forwards and listen to speeches, I want to use my words better. I choose to speak life and hope. I am grieved but my words matter and my children I hope will one day choose to speak words of life not death when they face situations that depresses and despairs them.

It is also imperative that I discuss with my children current events and historical events in a manner that they can understand. Much of the unrest that boiled over yesterday is not found in their text books. And for children in Colombo society, they don’t fully comprehend how bad things are for many children who are not as fortunate as they are. Bridging that gap is important. I cannot and should not sweep their discomfort or mine for that matter with the inequality of it all, under the carpet. There will be uncomfortable discussions. There will be times, I will not have the answers but it is important we have those conversations. It is important that my children hear that I do not know all or even pretend to understand it all.

My words will matter when I choose to use words such as forgive, love, peace, hope, faith. My words will need to reflect those sentiments – forgiveness, peace, hope, faith, love.

I will need to exercise restraint in how I respond to situations and instead speak with a filter that chooses the above sentiments. I will need to choose and look for gratitude even when faced with power cuts and shortages.

2. What I see matters

If you know me you know that I forward many of the footage or wrongful things that I want to share and help others ‘see’ too. Yet I now believe that I am wrong. Social media opens a door to things that sadly might not necessarily be healthy for me and my audience.

Yesterday as we waited in traffic we turned to Facebook and my audience and I watched the beatings and drunken behavior of some of the protesters. Was it healthy? Not at all!

A picture can speak (and teach) a thousand words. I know that the memories of those scenes will remain in my children’s minds for years. In fact, I wonder whether these images will outlive some of the other more ‘nicer memories’ of these times. I don’t know. But I am responsible and I deeply regret my lack of judgment in allowing my children to watch videos without my checking it out first.

3. What I do matters

As a mother I feel I failed yet I choose to try to do better. I want to see a better Sri Lanka. I pray for that daily. I believe that it starts with how I live my life and serve my family. If I do so, I will be able to raise children who I hope would serve their country instead of demanding that the country serves and benefits their own personal agendas.

My choice to do what I can to sow peace into this situation will be seen by my audience.

These words by John F Kennedy resonate today. “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for the country.” I pray that no matter what transpires today, my response will be mindful of my audience and their need to see me desire a better tomorrow even as I choose to safeguard myself and my home.

I pray that my children will learn from me that choices matter and we are responsible for the choices we make. And the choices we don’t make.

I hope that I can teach them that no satisfaction can come out of revenge and no matter how much we have been wronged, we don’t have the right to react in violence. That rebellion is as witchcraft and no good can be reaped when we defy authority.

I hope my audience will learn from my mistakes of yesterday. I hope that I will do better in teaching them from the lessons of our history so that they will not walk down that same path but instead develop as individuals who will work for the common good of all and in doing so, sow seeds that will make us one country, one nation, one Sri Lanka!

Taanya Tranchell
Author: Taanya Tranchell
Taanya Tranchell is a proud Sri Lankan, a committed mum and a fledgling entrepreneur. While not a social activist, she does want to do her bit to make the world a better place.
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