Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Do I love less, because I refuse to hate

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By  H.H.Mohrmen

Would it be true to say that I love the Jaidbynriew less because I refuse to hate and clench my fists and spew the venom of hatred all around? Is my loyalty to the community I belong only considered by how much I hate another community? Are you saying that to prove my faithfulness to the Jaidbynriew, I have to hate another community?
These are questions that had troubled my soul all along, but the incident last Sunday convinced me that enough is enough, I need no more soul searching but to take a stand and do what I think is right.
But before I come to the critical incident that was a turning point and which had convinced me to take a stand, I would like to go back to the days when I was a young man in the little town I was born and brought up. There was then a small community of non-native people and some of the youth I knew made it a habit to mug them every now and again depending on their mood swings. Occasionally they would invite me to join them in their antics and when I refused they would tease me saying I was as meek as a lamb; they also called me a coward. Coward I was but at least my conscience and I are in harmony because I was never taught to hate people without any rhyme or reason.
I have on more than one occasion intervened when a non-native man was attacked by one or more local young people. On one particular occasion when I tried to arbitrate with the young man who assaulted the cobbler with whom I used to brush my ‘bhojpuri chappals’  the young man said that he knew me very well and called me names for protecting outsiders. When I asked him the reason why he attacked the cobbler, the young man as usual had no answer, but the common refrain is that they are outsiders and they have no right to be here.
Once my barber asked me with deep anguish why he is being treated as a second class citizen in this town? “Why are we being harassed and robbed?  Are we not citizens of the same country?” he asked me.
There were images and photographs in the media of pressure groups taking the law in their hands and punishing labourers who had come to work in the state. We all know that there are laws against illegal immigrants and good citizens would allow the law to take its own course. Nobody but the court has the right to punish anybody, so punishing people by making them hold their hands on their ears and making fun of their plight is inhumane and denying the person his or her basic human right. Attacking and punishing people without any rhyme and reason are immoral acts that are against every religious tenet. Yet we see people who indulge in such acts without any qualms even though they attend Sunday worship.
Incidents like these happen frequently so we cannot call them stray incidents because they also happen in every nook and corner of the state. It seems to a certain section of the local population, outsiders are not to be tolerated because they come to steal our land and our means of livelihood. But what have we done to protect our land and livelihood in the state? Can we make Meghalaya develop and grow by  leaps and bounds by building walls and closing all our doors and windows to outside influences? Where will we take this beautiful state of ours, if we continue hating people and mugging them at every available opportunity?
Last Sunday I was on my way to the church- all suited and booted as the saying goes. But before reaching the church in front of the Jowai DC’s office, I saw a young woman confronting two drunkards while everybody around simply watched and did nothing. I also realized that the woman was from the church and like me she was all dressed up to attend service, so I pulled-over and parked my car. When I asked her what happened, she told me that she had intervened when she saw the two drunks attacking a young non-local boy who is about 17 years old. Because she had intervened the young man escaped their clutches but she in turn became the target of the drunkard’s ire. They tried to vent their anger on her for denying them the opportunity to rob and mob the young man. They used foul language against her and called her names for protecting outsiders. When I decided to catch the two, they ran away because both of them recognised me. Then I stopped to think whether I should proceed to church as planned or do something to help the victim. I decided to do what I thought was the right thing. The church service can wait, after all I will only lead the next service which will happen in about two and half hours time. On realising that I had ample time to be of help, I asked the bystanders if the victim was still around. Sure enough they pointed to a place quite a distance from where the incident occurred where he hid himself among other spectators. I called the victim who was accompanied by another elderly non-local man and the lanky young man still had tears falling from his eyes when he came close to where I was.
I asked the older man if he wanted to file an FIR, and I volunteered to take him to the police station to do the needful. The older man stopped to think for some time and decided against it; he said he did  not want to put himself and his people in danger, so he decided to let the incident pass. The unfortunate incident came to an end and we in turn proceeded to the church. I salute the young lady who dared to challenge the two drunkards and to do the right thing by helping the young man escape the clutches of the unscrupulous elements in society. How many of us would take time and stop to intervene when we see others get mugged especially if the victim is a non-local? The young woman’s timely action has not only saved the young man, but seeing the brave young woman taking on the two drunkards made my day. I also realized that that was the first time I saw a sermon in action. Bravo.
I know people particularly those who claim to be patriotic by preaching hate against other communities would not appreciate what we do, but we’ve done what we think is the right thing to do. Even before I put this piece to writing, I had prepared myself against being called all sorts of names and had even braced myself for any eventuality. I know that even people who consider me their friend will turn their backs on me, but I have to be at peace with my soul and my Maker. At the end of the day what I really need is a clear conscience, a pillow to put my head and a bed that gives me a sound sleep.
But for people who believe that the evidence of how much we love the Jaidbynriew depends on how much we hate others, we may be considered to be ‘ki ingkhong shyllangmat.’ Maybe we will be called unpatriotic towards the grand cause of the Jaidbynriew, but if to prove my patriotism I have to hate some community, then count me out because I think I can love my Jaidbynriew as much without hating others.
As a community we need to do much soul searching. We call others racists but are we not racist ourselves? We need to ponder hard on this issue. We need to teach our youngsters that it is wrong to assault anybody and if we have any issue with anybody, the sane alternative that is available to each and every citizen is to take a legal recourse. We should not take the law in our own hands. And most importantly we need to remember that we do not need to hate in order to love, in fact love and hate are like day and night; one cannot exist in the presence of the other. We need to let the light shine and rid us of the darkness around.

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