27 May 2014

The nation above all

'The Nation' was launched eight years ago.  At the time I was Deputy Editor (Features) and one of my tasks was to write the weekly editorial.  I was with 'The Nation' until January 2007 and wrote almost all editorial until I believe October or so, except on a few occasions when I was out of the country. I returned to 'The Nation', as Editor, in October 2011 and have written all editorials since then.  'The Nation' turned 8 last week. It would be nice, I thought, to return to that first editorial, which naturally was a statement of intent of sorts. 

The Nation is launched at a time when the very word nation evokes an array of mixed emotions including unfortunately guilt, suspicion, rancor and acrimony. This is obviously not the first time in this islands long history that such sentiments have come to dominate the collective consciousness of the people.  The histories of nations and communities are typically in states of flux for there will always be highs and lows, tranquility and discontent. Thus, while there is no denying the fact that the term crisis’ is an apt descriptive of the current state of affairs, this is not to say that resignation en masse is in order.

‘Nation’ can mean different things to different people and this is indeed something to be celebrated, for a uniform sense of the collective is not only boring but also indicates stagnation and a manifest absence of dynamism, conditions which necessarily inhibit enterprise and creativity. Such a nation would indeed be uninspiring and one which few would like to identify with.

On the other hand, the recent history of this country does seem to cry out for a robust identity-bind that capable of enmeshing the many diversities that inhabit our society into a tapestry, a banner that not only delights but inspires citizens to be more enterprising, responsible and conscious of the collective ethic embedded in the idea ‘we swim or sink together’. 

It is not the task of The Nation to offer an all-encompassing definition of ‘nation’ for the citizens of this country.  However, we wish to state at the outset that to the extent that a nation is in fact a relentless search for and honing of identity-based and purpose-related commonality, The Nation will remain a democratic forum for this very necessary discussion. The ideas thus expressed, we are confident, will serve as the bricks and mortar that builds, re-builds and in other ways transform our nation into an edifice that all of us can truly be proud of.  

The Nation shall operate on the premise that only a well informed public can act with responsibility in all matters that concern both the individual and the aggregate.  To this end we will strive to offer comprehensive information on events and issues, for it is our belief that as the knowledge pool grows the people as a whole will be less vulnerable to deception and manipulation by people with vested interests purporting to act in the name of the public interest. We will remain a fiercely independent newspaper. We will not take sides but rather will ensure that the views of all key players get space for articulation.

We are of course not against those who attempt to invade the popular imagination with political creed, after all discourse is essentially an interactive engagement whereby we attempt to convince our fellow citizens of the validity of our particular ideas. On the other hand, only an informed and alert public is equipped with discretionary power necessary for fruitful debate.  The Nation therefore will not only provide a platform for debating issues critical to society but will look to provide material that enhances the quality of social discourse.

We have faith in the ability of our people to suffer great tragedies and still emerge with their spirit intact from such physical and emotional bludgeoning. It is indeed a tribute to the people as a whole that despite alarming weaknesses in political leadership they have by and large managed to maintain their spirits and more importantly refused to let hope be interred along with the remains of some of the fundamental building blocks of good governance and political responsibility.

We are blessed in that our people have exceptional courage and resilience. Our people have an innate sense of decency and a will to revive and carry on with their lives. They believe in peaceful co-existence and deserve to have a better quality of life than they have had over the last few decades. These are the positives that persuade us to launch this new Sunday newspaper and we have dedicated The Nation to nurture them to reach full fruition.

We will be fiercely professional, will adhere to the rich tenets of journalism and will act with fidelity to the basic premises of democracy. We have no agenda apart from that articulated here. We believe we’ve chosen a path worth taking and one which should not be walked alone.  In the final analysis people and newspapers mould each other and it is only the courage, commitment and integrity of all concerned that lead to a habitable destination. As we take our first steps, we are confident, enthusiastic and hopeful.