TODAY -

Editorial of the week

PRESS UNDER PRESSURE

The ceasework strike that the press fraternity in the state was forced into recently could not have been more unfortunate. For one, it was at a time the entire world was thirsting for news in the wake of the devastating terrorists strikes on the US and its aftermath that now spells the first war of the 21st century, as the president of the US, George W Bush, calls it. The silence in the state amidst the ever increasing battle cries and sabre rattling all over the world was complete and in the literal sense - deafening. Not just the daily newspapers, but equally the cable televisions operators were off the air, de-linking the state from the rest of the world for a fortnight so suddenly that it cannot but have taken all in the state by surprise. The media is thankfully back in business again, although it is still too early to pass any judgement with any finality just as yet on whether the one's to have been bruised most severely is not the press itself. Its esteem, credibility and morale have taken a beating and this cannot auger well for the institution which in an ideal setup ought to be acting as the conscience keeper of the society. After all, what is the press worth if it cannot think and write freely. We believe that a good newspaper, as well known American playwright, Arthur Miller, once commented, is a nation talking to itself. Probing its collective cultural legacy, its history, its glories, its sins .... And as with all such retrospection, it is more than likely that some uncomfortable and embarrassing questions may arise, but rather than repress these thoughts, the forward looking attitude, we are of the firm belief, is to face them squarely, overcome them, and then only leave them behind with our heads up. But shaken as it is today, we wonder what courage the media in the state will have left to strive to live up to this lofty ideal so eloquently articulated by Miller. Something awful has happened to our society. The spirit of free debate has been .muffled. The freedom of expression in thought, in dress, in music are being put in jeopardy by an excessive tendency for moral policing. Have our identity become so weak as to need the watchful eyes of big brothers?

In the long run, tolerance can never be a weakness. On the other hand, it is a great show of resilience and inner strength. It is unimaginable to think that a person or institution of strength can fall from any single piece of criticism or mistake. For that matter, it has always been those who can absorb criticism and even frontal assaults to their best benefits, who are cut out to be winners on the long road of history. History itself is the proof of this. Against the ceaseless tides of time, while the resilient have stood their grounds, the rigid and intolerant have always crumbled. For those who care to look, this message is the most prominent writing on the walls today. For those who care to listen, this is the sentiment most often on the lips of the common man today. For those who care for the survival and wellbeing of our land, particularly the wielders of authority, overground as well as underground, our heartfelt appeals are: read the writings on the walls; listen to the whispering voices of the common man.... or else be doomed. In the process shoulder also the guilt of dooming us all also to another hundred years of solitude.

Courtesy: The Imphal Free Press

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