Mudiyanse Tennekoon

Our Aims and Methods

Since its inception, Cultural Survival of Sri Lanka has helped indigenous people and other traditional (puranagama) communities to articulate, document and disseminate their age-old traditions of living ecological and cultural wisdom. In the process, it has served in a bridge-building capacity between diverse perspectives, helping rural communities to deal as equals with their urban counterparts in the democratic decision-making process, even while making the practical wisdom of Sri Lanka's village hinterland accessible and understandable to the urbanized, Western-oriented population.

We maintain that cultural diversity is one of the greatest social resources for any nation and that Sri Lanka in particular is extraordinarily well endowed in this respect. All too often, however, in their haste to emulate the fashions and tastes of other societies, Sri Lankans have been too willing to shed their rich cultural inheritance in exchange for the outward trappings of fashionable 'advanced' societies. Mudiyanse Tennekoon This abandonment of traditional values and institutions has in recent years accelerated to create a social and moral vacuum that has turned into a breeding ground for social intolerance and unbridled consumerism with dire consequence for present and future generations.

Moreover, as the holistic traditional perspective has long insisted, human culture and the natural environment are inextricably bound together as one complex living network or biosphere, and any disruption of our island's socio-cultural integrity is bound to have far-reaching effects upon the natural environment's fertility and capacity to support the quality of life that previous generations cherished and guarded through a conscientious policy of stewardship rather than ownership.

This awareness of and appreciation for our collective responsibility as the custodians of our yet-unfathomed cultural and environmental heritage, we believe, must be preserved and strengthened if we are to have any hope of preserving our traditional quality of life for generations to come.

In the name of development and progress, native peoples and other traditional communities have lost land, natural resources, and control over their own lives. The consequences have been social disease, despair and impoverishment for them -- and conflict and environmental devastation for us all. But such destruction is not inevitable.

Cultural Survival, the organization, does not consider cultural survival, the concept, to be a matter of clinging to folkways but rather a question of enabling people to determine their own future. Greed and ignorance, not fate, extinguish traditional societies. Rural communities may be dispossessed simply because they are weak, tempting targets. Development projects may destroy whole communities in the name of distorted notions of progress.