Heads of religions must speak out
Daily Mirror Editorial
Feb 11, 2011

Not having media freedom is indeed a disturbing factor for any sovereign and sincerely democratic state. The Paris based organization, ‘Reporters without Borders’ has stated that the media freedom index for Sri Lanka, for last year, had fallen to 163 out of 179 countries. In the 164th position is Somalia, widely regarded as a failed state. The United States too, dropped by 27 places as a result of journalists being arrested during the ‘Occupy Wall-street’ protests. The format worked out for the index is based on a questionnaire, which apart from other matters, covers areas of violence against journalists, censorship laws and freedom of the internet.

Government supporters are making matters worse by giving a bad name to the country. On January 25 when media activists were observing ‘Black January’ to spotlight the threats and pressure on the free media, state run media and other organisations took part in a counter protest. About 1,500 people, some armed with clubs, were called out to display their primordial instincts. They were bringing disgrace to our noble culture. Are they not also giving credence to the arguments by the diaspora and LTTE sympathises that not only the free media but even the minority viewpoints here are being suppressed.

After all, the Free Media Movement was only doing what any true democratic country would allow its citizens to do; that is to protest without resorting to violence or hatred. We could ask, why should anyone frown on Media Freedom? What it’s meant to do is to reveal the Truth. When Truth is suppressed, we allow evil, hypocrisy, falsehood and lies to be worshiped and lived. Worshiped by such, for they believe, that way of living is what blesses and fulfills them. If any sections of the Media are found to be telling lies, then they should be shown the Truth. This is the basic tenet of a civilized society. Violent confrontation is not the answer, but Truth based on evidence, collaborated with facts and figures.

What is sad in this land of the Dhamma, is that we give greater respect and compassion to animals than to our own brothers and sisters, who hold different viewpoints. Does this not show that we have ceased maturing or evolving in our spirituality? Could we be reverting to prehistoric cultures; making it necessary to start all over again?

Heads of all religious bodies of every faith need to come out of their comfortable ego-centric enclaves and eschew state patronage and favour. Their calling is to fulfil the role of giving spiritual leadership. Leadership that proclaims upholding Truth and Right living. They need to accept the challenge to speak out against corruption, vulgar extravagance by the ruling elite and dictatorial methods.

Their responsibility cannot be abdicated and left to the Media or other secular bodies alone. Is that not what the great religious founders sought to do?

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka