15 August, 2022


Mangala – An Authentic Man

By Sarath de Alwis

The origin of sincerity is courage. Listening to the voice of one’s conscience takes courage. Men with moral courage are not hesitant to teach others what they have learnt. Mangala Samaraweera will be remembered for his moral courage.

It takes lot of courage to be an authentic person in public life. Only a person hungry for truth will discover truth. It is only from such authentic men that people will learn the truth. Whether the people will want to learn the truth is another matter.

Mangala lived a life of dignity. His dignity compelled him to speak out. As some sage said dignity is never silent. Truth and courage are foundational to dignity. A person with dignity will always do what others fear to do, the dignified human speaks out.

Mangala Samaraweera was the quintessential romantic. The romantic conceives the idea of a perfect world and spends the rest of his life adjusting his imperfections to fit in to that dream of a perfect world. It is no easy journey.

Romanticism fails to read the limitations of the perfect world and the complexities of the real world.

Mangala Samaraweera never abandoned the hope that the real world could somehow be persuaded to the path of a more perfect world. Such men are remembered in history. A very decent human being has taken the ferry to the great beyond.

All of us, as we march through life quietly but surely grow into some personality. The long march through life equips us to frame our thoughts, develop our feelings, values and what we perceive as solutions to problems that we confront.

Mangala Samaraweera was such a man who saw what was wrong with our nation. We are nation adrift. We are a people who have lost our moral compass.

I did not agree with his economics. But I salute his deep humanism. He will be missed by all decent people who yearn for a land where civic trust is embedded, and public reason is respected.
He never gave up. Only a few weeks ago he set up his new instrument to contribute to the public discourse. He called it the Radical Center. In her novel ‘To kill a mocking bird “Harper Lee use a curious definition of moral courage that adequately describes Mangala Samaraweera’s moral courage.

“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

Mangala Samaraweera did not observe moral neutrality. He knew that to remain silent was to cohabit with the oppressor.

His integrity was reflected in his capacity to recognize the unvarnished truth. His honestly was in his ready capacity to tell the unvarnished truth to other people.
In 1784, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote an essay where he answered the question what enlightenment is.

‘Enlightenment is man’s release form his self-incurred immaturity and his inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage. Kant implored ‘Have courage to use your own reason.”

Mangala Samaraweera had the courage to use his own reason.

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Latest comments

  • 15

    Mangala was a true patriot and a decent human being. His untimely demise is a great loss to the nation. He will be truly missed by all decent souls. We pray for the solace of his family and friends in this hour of need.
    Let his immortal soul rest in peace
    Ratnam Nadarajah

  • 14

    A sincere hard working politician who did his best to bring about change to this country for the good of the people . But then , in a country like ours doing so is like swimming against the tide. In my thinking he was a politician of the future. His vision .. eg. “Sri Lanka is not a Sinhala Buddhist country “will come to fruition in generations come., no doubt.
    May be his untimely death will not be in vain for who knows it may spur a younger generation to take up the baton from where he left off.

  • 10

    R.I.P Mangala. You were Sri-Lanka’s last hope for civility and compassion.

    This song by the late Leonard Cohen makes me think of you:


  • 6

    Mangala was indeed an authentic man , no argument . I’d like to though , dwell his three decades as a politician . What were his achievements that brought tangible benefits to the population ? His greatest feat was the liberalization of the Telecom sector . What about his time as the minister ports ? He clamoured for positions he was not qualified for – namely Finance and Foreign Affairs .

    One has to look at things in context . How much of the poor tax payers funds would have been spent on all his travels abroad – and for whose benefit ? These politicians cost the poor public millions and millions of rupees , for no return .

  • 3

    killi gone.mangala gone.didanyone see putin in disguise in colombo?

  • 4

    i won’t say “may he attain nibbana” cos i know he will attain nibbana.A decent human being.

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