At the time when the US presidential election is all over in the news, I take you back to 2004 when Victor Yushchenko stood for the presidency of the Ukraine. Despite all tricks of the ruling party and threats to his life, he did not give up. On the day of the election, he was leading but the results were tampered with. The news anchor of the state run state-run channel UT1 reported, “ladies and gentlemen, we announce that the challenger Victor Yushchenko has been decisively defeated.”
Natalia Dmitruk was a sign language interpreter on the channel. She was on duty to translate the news for the deaf community. She refused to translate the lies. Deviating from the official script followed by the voice announcer, she instead signed to viewers, “I am addressing everybody who is deaf in Ukraine. Our president is Victor Yushchenko. Do not trust the results of the central election committee. They are all lies…. and I am very ashamed to translate such lies to you.”
The deaf community sprang into action. Her co-workers at the channel; and other channels resolved to report fairly. Mass protests led to the “Orange Revolution” when over a million people, wearing orange, made their way to the capital demanding a new election, which happened and Victor Yushchenko became the president.
Natalia’s act demonstrated the strength of her character, integrity and raised the bar for fair reporting of media. When asked why did she do this? Natalia’s answer was modest and simple, “I just went in and did what my conscience told me to do.”
It is important that we all listen to our inner voice —our conscience—that keeps telling us the right thing to do. This reinforces the lesson I shared in one of my previous posts, “If you have character, you have the better part of wealth.”
We are living in the information age, surrounded by 24X7 news. Imagine the impact if we have journalists like Natalia everywhere who tell the truth, expose the oppressors, and take up the rights of innocent people no matter what colour or race they have; and whether they are in Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Nigeria, Europe, America, or any other part of the world.
If a person appearing in a lower corner of the television screen can cause a revolution without even speaking a word, the loud voices on media can certainly do much more in these troubled times!