On February 11th Iran marked the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution. I was in Colombo, Sri Lanka visiting my father, yes the end of the “Marco Polo” trip he teased me about. Feeling quite pampered and relaxed I opened the morning newspaper and what jumped out at me literally made me gasp. ….A double full paged corporate sponsored spreads to congratulate the Republic of Iran on the occasion of the 33rd anniversary of its Revolution. “what the %^#* ……..?” was the first thought that came to mind. Then I noticed that the corporate sponsor was the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. I turned the page and there was another one from an Industrial Development group.
Sri Lanka is a third world developing nation. People are kind and peaceful and proud. That hits you as soon as you land at the airport. Literacy is at 94%. …and although primarily forgotten the original gripe that started the bitter ethnic strife that ended a few years ago was inequality in awarding of university spots based on ethnic population percentage versus pure academic ranking. But Sri Lanka is a poor country and it appears when help was needed it turned to and did and does receive substantial aid in the form of reduced cost crude oil, development aid monies etc. from Iran and other countries that do not have, to put it mildly, the best relationships with the West. And when actions by countries with regimes like Iran result in the developed nations taking actions with embargos and so on the impact on countries like Sri Lanka is heartbreakingly profound. The government there is imperfect but a country has to develop and its people have to grow and prosper without leaving the island in droves. The World Bank is a shadow of its former self and really quite useless….something needs to be done. You cannot have a broad embargo and tell countries to toe the line without being willing to be a part of a broader conversation that looks at all sides…..we are a global village after all.
The Yin-Yang factor at its most obvious………heart breaking but let’s do something about it. A hand stretched out willing to think out of the box could change the course of history……..