At the individual and collective levels, most probably we will focus on the “blessings” the year that is about to end today has brought us. It is always good to look at the glass half full ~ but while doing so we tend to push into the background the unpleasantness of the glass empty. This is not as healthy as we are told it is and/or as healthy as we would like to believe ~ because only when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we realize we need to clean our face. As the year concludes, the media assess and analyze on the state of politics and economics ~ and generally the state of the country and the world on the concluding year. Local newspapers in Nagaland also do the same. This is an exercise very necessary for both the individual and the collective, which may not necessarily be put down in black and white and published. Stock-taking is germane to growth and progress but the point is the level of the realism and honesty of this stock-taking. Like it or not, Naga society is very fragile as far as realism and honesty are concerned. We like sugar and spice and everything nice. So, “constructive criticism” is most welcomed but why not “non-constructive criticism”? Why are we so afraid of and unable to digest criticism that is not perceived as “constructive”? Why can’t we not take words, terms and phrases ~ much less whole sentences ~ that aren’t sugar and spice-coated? Fragile egos? Perpetual adolescence? We are about to bid adieu to 18 years of the 21st century ~ almost two decades of a century ~ yet we are where we always were: deep in the caves politically, economically, developmentally, culturally and socially. In fact, the graver problem is our perceptions and perspectives of our culture and traditions, which have impacted on and handicapped our politics and economics ~ casting dark shadows on our claims to being traditionally democratic a la the Greek city-states, which have not been borne out in our practice of “modern democracy”. Just a cursory look at our state politics and economics of the past few decades is evidence enough. Moreover, much as we like to protest that we are “unique”, our private and public lives clearly indicate that we are no different from anyone else, anywhere else. In fact, we seemed to have developed a great penchant for the medieval system of politics and economics of medieval India. So, we keep on electing the same people and their ilk ~ rendering change unable to occur. As 2018 ends today, surely the urgency of unresolved issues must propel us to think and act? Surely, we are destined to live better than we did in 2018 and the years, the decades and the centuries before that? And this living better would not come with sugar-coated words and spiced-thinking and living. Somewhere, sometime, something has to give ~ and if not now, when? It is already too late because habits are difficult to discard but try we must to do uncomfortable thinking, plain speaking and inconvenient action. But this is not to suggest that we abandon civility, politeness and respect for each other ~ but that it is way past time for us to develop thicker skin and the ability to digest unpalatable “non-constructive” criticism, act on them and turn them into advantages. Sometimes, those we perceive to be our worst foes actually turn out to be our greatest friends ~ and vice versa. This naturally entails maturity to discern ~ so the question is: are we matured enough to turn brick-bats into bouquets? This is the million-dollar question that has remained unanswered, which is perhaps the greatest hindrance to all our hopes, wishes, dreams, aspirations and desires. However clichéd it is, as long as we live in our dream world that much further we will remain from realizing our full potentials. And, looking at the quality of our lives, we are living in a dream world ~ which means we are not looking at our realities in the face. In a matter of hours, 2018 will be consigned to the annals of history. Surely, because change has not come and is unlikely to come with the status quo we have been experiencing for decades ~ time to stop living in an elusive future, time to take ownership of our lives? Otherwise, 2019 be another replication of the past.