Don’t Get Mad; Get Even

by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

Mr. Nilantha Ilangamuwa
Sri Lanka Guardian
27 February 2011

Dear Mr. Ilangamuwa,

(March 01, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I refer to your write up under the heading ‘Dirty Tricks Department on war path with Sri Lanka Guardian’ .

It seems that you are upset by the article ‘GUARDING AGAINST THESE SO-CALLED GUARDIANS’ published in Lakbima News on 20 February 2011.

The author under the name Underpala says ‘Lacking any of the training that genuine journalists undergo and unhampered by the principles and ethics of mainstream media and which must necessarily operate within the law, these outlets for gossip often mixed with fiction are put to use by those unbridled disseminators of creativity.

The situation is compounded when some of these websites operate outside the country and are therefore not subject to the laws applicable to the media-both mainstream and websites- in the country.’

I go by my own personal experience. I am not a trained journalist. But I believe I do write well and this has been confirmed by many including from the media. Rights and wrongs by any entity are only as good as the belief people have in that entity. The articles I have written ( many of the recent ones have been published by the Sri Lankan Guardian ) would confirm that I am a ‘free agent’. Even in terms of the media, I have gone beyond the stage of expecting returns and acknowledgments. If they happen, I accept them naturally as my dues. If they don’t – I register that towards helping me adjust the status of the entity I considered responsible for providing return for my work and investments. I do not wait around for others to endorse or reject it. I just register for my own purposes. Often I share it with close family, so they would know how I felt. Beyond that it does not bother me.

One of my early exposures with the Sri Lankan media came through the Daily News. I was in Colombo in October 2004, for the celebrations of Air Lanka’s 25th anniversary. I wrote as follows to Daily News in response to the article ‘The relevance of Ahimsa’ :

“I read with interest, the excerpts from the keynote address by Justice C. G. Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice, when he spoke about the Relevance of Ahimsa on World Peace Day. You captured this in the Daily News on 04 October - two days after Gandhi's birthday…..”

Then as is my style, I wrote about my experience in Colombo and then posted the letter. As stated above, I kept going without waiting for a response/return.

Months later, when I was doing Google search – I found this article published in the Daily News.

I was struck by the fact that it was published on 01 November 2004. On that day, I was brought from Mulawa prison to Waverley Local Court from where I was sent to Prince of Wales Hospital to be assessed for mental illness. The Psychiatrist who examined me – wrote that I was NOT mentally ill and suggested that the courts found a legal resolution. The Psychiatrist said that I was following in the footsteps of Gandhi. Gandhi was the commonness that struck me. I wrote about Ahimsa and honored Gandhi’s work. That was published on the same day a White Australian psychiatrist called me a Gandhi follower. True work always comes to protect us. The rest is temporary.

In appreciation of the above ‘return’ by Daily News, I started writing at I get fair coverage through this whenever I publish through them. Hence I did not have to forward my work to Sri Lanka Guardian. I do because I believe in them. I have appreciated the return shown by Sri Lanka Guardian for my work. I appreciate that not all my work gets published due to Sri Lanka Guardian’s own structures and objectives.

Author Underpala says in Lakbima News ‘Some 90 years ago C.P. Scott, a famous editor of the Manchester Guardian (as it was known then) said “comment is free, facts are sacred.” That dictum which clearly distinguished between what might be called opinion and news used to be drilled into the minds of journalism novices at a time when journalism was a respected vocation.

Today there is no Manchester Guardian. Not only has that great newspaper undergone a name change it has degenerated qualitatively too and is now only a pale shade of what it used to be.

There are other guardians that have sunk even farther. Take for instance that website called the Sri Lanka Guardian. Published outside Sri Lanka it seems to have few scruples and even fewer journalistic principles.’

To me, Facts without feelings are like dead bodies. Comments with feelings are pathways to freedom. There may be no Manchester Guardian today. But there is Sri Lanka Guardian which certainly has been a meeting place of genuine seekers of Freedom. All I need is my own endorsement of it. In fact, when Sri Lanka Guardian publishes my work, I try and forward that address to those in my email list. Those in my email list show net positive retun. There are a few in that who do try to insult and put me down. These are bad gunas like that of M/- Underpala. But the more we include them in us and help community and society cure itself – the more determined we become. They may or may not get cured. But by taking them on and showing the good value that would diffuse their badness – we become even with them.

In terms of Sri Lanka, the media has gone past the stage of ‘rights and wrongs’. It is about gunas/qualities. To me Sri Lanka Guardian’s guna is far superior to Lakbima News. The role of the media is to help us complete our experiences and find our own Truth. The media needs to be less dependent on facts than the lower level courts. This is an elementary lesson M/-Underpala needs to learn about journalism.

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