Saturday, December 5, 2020

Civic crimes

One cannot overemphasize the urgent need for our people to re-evaluate spiritual, moral and worldly duties and obligations. How many times have we got stuck in a deadlock as oncoming traffic divides itself into multiple queues, overtaking both sides of the road (particularly in Dimapur)? Another unpleasant experience is drivers making u-turn on busy roads at peak traffic hour creating a mess of an otherwise busy but smooth traffic movement. Or underage drivers pulling up in front without warning or heed to other road users. How many times have we come across piles of garbage on the roadside and people emptying their bin in the streets on top of a heap of already rotting garbage? It is also a regular affair in our narrow roads (particularly in Kohima) to get stuck between double parked car. As one drive across our towns, we see palatial residential structures, the houses extending beyond the needs of their inhabitants and restricting smooth passage. Another regular sight in the afternoon or early evening is people hurrying to get home to their families, but unfortunately the way they manoeuvre their vehicles means others have to wait in line behind them, and so be delayed to reach their families. And for all the above, we unabashedly blame the government. Yes, it is easy to blame the government, or whichever party is in power. We break laws and violate rules with impunity; we have no regard for moral values and are lacking social responsibility. Sure complaints of the populace must be taken into account and redressed, but does our right to complain truly absolve us of our civil duties and responsibilities? Can we not foresee the dangers we, as a society, is heading to? Are we willingly partaking in the slow but sure destruction of our beautiful land? We give up our civic and social responsibilities and blame the most convenient and easy target: the government. When the society collectively gives up its responsibilities and blames others, such a situation needs to be put into right perspective and propose a solution. This solution can come when a collective approach towards problem solving is adopted. In this sense, a partnership in the overall society is needed. The point is no society can call itself a morally upright and ethical society if it abandons its collective responsibilities and no society becomes great and reaches a higher moral and ethical stature if it does so. To reach a higher moral and ethical stature, we need to have a conversation with ourselves and then set about righting the wrongs that we inflict on ourselves. There is no one out there that tells us to litter our surroundings, to steal electricity or encroach upon government property. It is us that is doing all this. The people do it as a matter of right to throw garbage on the roads, streets, lanes, water bodies. There is no guilt and no shame. We grumble about dirty streets but religiously throw our trash every morning at our neighbor’s door step. Examples galore can be cited about how we, as a society, give up our civic duties. The irony of it all is that we blame the government for the state of affairs. This is not to say that our government is blameless – its track record on transparency and accountability is almost zero and is responsible for almost all the ills in the society. But by putting blame on where it does not belong and by implicating ourselves in social, moral and civic crimes, what statement are we making on ourselves as a society and individuals? What legacy are we leaving to posterity? A bleak and a negative one is the answer. We need to introspect and change. This we owe to ourselves, the Almighty and future generations. Let us not take the easy option out; let us do our bit and first of all hold ourselves to account. The rest will follow. Blaming the government is cynical and hypocritical. Let us look deep into ourselves and then apportion blame. The results will be surprising and healthy. It won’t be anybody else but our own very selves. This is the need of the hour.