By R.M.B Senanayake -
Shirani Bandaranayake has gone home, thrown out of office sans pension, sans dignity which was stripped from her by those who claim to be acting in the name of the majority.
“Majorities do not decide what is right or wrong; your conscience does. So why should a citizen surrender his or her conscience to a legislator? For we must NEVER EVER kneel down before the tyranny of a majority!” – Samantha Booke. In the Great Debaters.
Shirani Bandaranayake has done just that. The Courts have quashed the decision against her. She was not given the rights extended to every person under our law- the right to natural justice. She is a victim of man’s inhumanity to man. She refused to resign and we applaud her for that ; for it is a great sacrifice on her part for the cause of the Rule of Law and the independence of the Judiciary. Our selfish , hypocritical politicized society is characterized by everyone working in his or her own greedy self-interests and huddling together with those of their tribe, at war with all those outside who they regard as enemies to be beaten into submission by hook or by crook. What breaks a human mind out of that iron cage of selfishness is a sacrifice. The martyr who gives up everything, who abandons all personal gain, who lays down his life for the good of those outside his group is the hero for us Christians. . “You will have to make up for the smallness of your size by your courage and selfless devotion to duty, for it is not life that matters, but the courage, fortitude and determination you bring to it.” ― Muhammad Ali Jinna. Shirani Bandaranaike ought to become a symbol for all those who stand for the Rule of Law and Justice like Abraham Lincoln or Patrick Henry.
She has offered a sacrifice – a sacrifice of her career for what is a valuable principle in a society- the Rule of Law and the Independence of the Judiciary. She will long be remembered for her courage in the face of all the taunts, the mudslinging and the mob terror unleashed on her by those responsible for the impeachment and whoever was behind them. She acted according to the dictates of her conscience in giving judgment on the Divineguma Bill. She could have obliged the powers that be by giving an opinion which the authorities wanted. She didn’t, preferring to act according to her conscience. She could have resigned and preserved her future career rather than face the indignity of being found guilty even though by a body declared as illegal by the highest Courts of the land. She is an exceptional person indeed for most of our high officials prefer to look after their personal interests rather than stand up for a principle. She acted according o her conscience and paid a heavy price for it. Conscience is the moral intuition and Christians consider it the voice of God in the soul.” It is the knowledge that one must always do right and never wrong, the knowledge of one’s absolute obligation to goodness, all goodness: justice and charity and virtue and holiness; only in the second place is it the knowledge of which things are right and which things are wrong.
But even her accusers refer to their conscience, like the devil quoting Scripture. But as pointed out by Cardinal Newman(1801-1890) conscience can be invoked even to justify evil actions – He wrote thus : Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will.” —Conscience has rights because it has duties; but in this age, with a large portion of the public, it is the very right and freedom of conscience to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations.
“The leader for the time being, whoever he may be, is but an instrument, to be used until broken and then to be cast aside; and if he is worth his salt he will care no more when he is broken than a soldier cares when he is sent where his life is forfeit in order that the victory may be won.” ― Theodore Roosevelt