The following article was published as Editorial for Morung Express on June 11 2015. It seems like Nagaland has come of age. We have more than a month to go in 2017 but the verdict is out. This year is going down in history as ‘THE YEAR OF PROTESTS‘. Icing on the cake is that there is an order that protests are banned.
A friend lamented that in spite of all the things which are so visibly going wrong in our society, we are not able to mobilize a collective voice of protest. Only when an issue turns into a crisis, boils over, and spills into the streets and things get out of hand, there is some face saving action. But once the temperature cools down, the action is half done and forgotten or shelved as an issue pending further investigation. The concerned authorities are ineffective to take any concrete action and the so-called high powered committees constituted to look into the cases are often compromised or their reports not acted upon. The common people have lost trust on the government and non-government authorities to deliver the goods. Ultimatum letters are often served with the warning of resorting to ‘own course of action’ if the demands are not met, but somehow, things drag on as usual.
As a result, the apathy among the people grows and the hope for change turns into a spirit of cynicism. There are far too many cynics in our society. The sad and depressing situation of our society makes it a good place for a good cynicism factory. The job seeker who was once a hard working, honest individual, is turned into a cynic when he is walked over by a lazy cheat who has a family connection with someone in power. The way our society runs can turn a normal person into a fish which flows against the current or a chameleon which changes color to blend with the surrounding.
When an evil is protested against, there are people who quote Scripture against those protesters, ‘those who are without sin, let them cast the first stone’. And everyone is silenced, for directly or indirectly, the system permeates all of us. We do not need to go anywhere or to anyone to see what is right and wrong. The line dividing the right from the wrong passes through the middle of each of us. As we are harmed by a corrupt system, in some way, we are also benefactors of the system which makes speaking and standing for the truth so difficult.
But while we all seek to clean the speck from our own eyes, we should care for the collective welfare of our society. There are many issues which affect us as individuals but are above the individual. Rape of a woman involves the rapist and the victim, but rape is a social issue which affects us all. The army capturing and torturing some innocent citizens is a security threat to all of us. Some unscrupulous youth taking law into his own hands and going unpunished is a sign of lawlessness in the society. The lack of moral integrity of our public leaders affects us because of their position, because one leader’s decision affects thousands of lives.
There is power in peaceful protests and there is power in numbers in a democratic society. Protests can be constructive and they give hope for positive change. Press release condemning a crime is a sign that we don’t condone lawlessness (although many times, we should go far beyond a mere press release). When an injustice is exposed, standing in support of justice and showing solidarity to those people who stand for justice is a powerful sign to the powers that be. Many times, we grumble individually at the evils in our society. But we are yet to find that collective voice of protest.
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