By Obadiah Lamshwa Lamare
A human child thrown away and discarded by the vessel that reluctantly bore him, found warmth in the care of a dog and her pups in Argentina, until others of the “human persuasion” managed to recover the baby from his new found family. It sounds like a Rudyard Kipling plot but it also succeeds in raising questions. Must have it been an offshoot of motherly instinct or a display of humanity on the part of the dog? We may never know the answer but it is a question that most of us may find insignificant or may be even too inconvenient to answer. Nonetheless, if we tune down the sound of bells that jingle and ring we may find ourselves with something to ponder this holiday season.
It has been more than a year now since the hamlet of Umbir became a witness to the gruesome murder of a labourer by a proud member of a nationalist organisation, but just like other issues that concern the weary and the voiceless, this too was forgotten. One cannot even recollect any public apology or condemnation from the groups concerned. Everybody seems to be busy playing Pilate and no one wants to take any responsibility for letting the hell hounds loose, and now the hounds wreak havoc in the once green serenity that was Meghalaya. These are haunting and scary implications laid down for concerned eyes to see; too alarming and terrifying.
We are cramped with so much concerns that it seems hard to look for solutions that will ensure we go to bed with a full stomach without having to lose our humanity. With the jingoists keeping on with their chants and young men volunteering even to the point of murdering those who commit the folly of trying to feed their families by engaging in high risks, low paying jobs in a land ‘not’ of their own, the solution to the problems here seems to have been formulated. It may seem as a far cry now, but the path that we are taking may lead us to that period in time when blood and fury will be accepted as the way we can protect ourselves and that which we hold dear. The burnings, the murders suggest we may not be far from that dreadful future.
Having said this, to not look after one self is to lack a required degree of humanity and also sanity. It would mean an error in our biological and evolutionary programming. But we have to remember that alongside the lines that speak of self preservation and survival runs a gentler course that speaks of altruism and indiscriminate symbiosis: essential lessons in coexistence and cooperation. However, in the name of self preservation we are being drawn away from the larger concerns that go beyond our peculiarities; concerns which should not be sidelined or neglected. The subordination of common interests to the interests of the few, the alienation of powerless people from their habitats, the restrictions, humiliation, punishment and dehumanisation of labour are a few glaring examples of such concerns. These concerns are real and urgent, connecting us to the oppressed and excluded majority of labour and the many that are voiceless and destitute. But, we cannot see these pressing problems because a separatist propaganda is at work, diluting and restraining our convictions! The solution to these problems lies with a united human effort to revise and even re-humanise a corrupt and oppressive system. But we remain disunited and divided by narrow conventional compartments; a parochial spell has sunk its claws deep, blinding our eyes and deafening our ears to the common sights and cries of humanity.
It’s true that our culture is under threat but not in the way portrayed by some. The greatest traits that we have lost are immaterial; they are sociological and even humanitarian. The accommodative nature, sympathy and empathy that were there before have all eroded. The prevailing global economic order is also not conducive for traits like mutualism and cooperative functioning and that is precisely why we have to start working toward the redemption of our world. This all starts from seeing that we are but a sub-set, only a small part of a greater whole. It also starts with us extending hands of friendship and camaraderie to those who we were taught to see as enemies, as different from us, but who are in all actuality our closest allies.
It is high time that we demand for policies that would spread development from the cities to the rural corners of our state, policies that empower sectors which have been discarded, that secure necessities for all and that respect the life and human dignity of all. It is high time we join hands with those who share the same plight as we do and not necessarily those who share the same language, facial features or even religion. There is a need for us to prudently seek benefits and progress without marginalising others, and this could only be done when we include everyone in our efforts to progress. These are a few of the demands that would enhance our abilities to accommodate and that would help us secure human security without losing our humanity. If we the people come up with these demands, the chauvinists will have to keep shut, the exclusivists will have to find another hobby, the hypocrites will have to change and the government will have to deliver, not as onto babes but as to prudent masters.
Many have seen humanitarian appeals as weak and many may also dismiss these concerns as idealistic, belonging to a pile of dreams; but one has to remember that ideals and dreams make prescriptions for a better reality more promising and more intrinsically human. Without the humanitarian precepts academic, intellectual or social activity merit suspicion. We do, however, need to support our aspirations and dreams with rational and united actions and we desperately do need to be human and humane – we have to stop Killing Sense Unanimously. If we continue to fail in breaking away from one dimensional thinking and if we fail to act rationally and humanely, it should not come as a surprise when dogs start singing Psalms and carols and people start barking.
(The author is a research scholar, Pol Science Dept NEHU).