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.