The heart of matters


On December 7, 2017, our newspapers reported about “The Debate” that was held at Don Bosco, Dimapur, which around a hundred people attended ~ and that’s quite a good number considering that while most of our people have so much to say on all matters Naga, very few actually can muster the courage to publicly air their views. This “Debate” was reportedly held to deliberate on issues confronting the people and state of Nagaland and explore remedies thereof. Anyone, who wished to air their opinions and views, was the given the time, we are informed. We are further informed that the “debate” continued for almost five hours ~ but why not? Issues confronting the people and state of Nagaland cannot be discussed and deliberated, as also remedies conjured within half-an-hour, as is sought to be done in televisions talks or chat shows. The point that needs to be emphasized is that such debates, discussions and deliberations are essential and must become a part of our public life ~ for that is what democracy, most of all free speech, is all about. Any “organized” debates, discussions and deliberations actually reveal attempts to “thought control” and we have seen numerous such exercises over almost two decades ~ not surprisingly, “remedies” remain elusive. However, such debates, discussions and deliberations also entail precautions because those with the gift of the gab could be monopolize them ~ and we have also seen that happening only once too often. Moreover, those with the gift of the gab need not necessarily be wise, or even know the subject-matter and able to offer remedies. Another problem with those with the gift of the gab seems to be unaware of the adage: “Brevity is the soul of wit” ~ and we have also seen when two sentences would suffice, two paragraphs are wasted on over-stressing a point. This exposes two problems ~ (1) there seems to be doubts about the people’s intelligence, and (2) there seems to be some kind of craving to be in the public eye (attention-seeking), which substantiates our President’s caution that the country will have major psychological problems in the years to come. Excessive attention-seeking, one is informed, is a sign (or is it a symptom?) of psychological issues. The trick is to watch out for signs right from childhood. But, of course, this is not to suggest that genuine wish to debate, discuss and deliberate on issues confronting the people and state of Nagaland and find remedies thereof is any sign or symptom of psychological disorders. Now, the crucial thing here is that the very word “debate” suggests that alternate views are also aired and how we receive and deal with views that are diametrically opposite to ours reveals our maturity as a person and as a collective. From what we have seen so far is that alternate and contrarian views are often derided, disparaged, stifled and even threatened with “dire consequences” ~ and there have been instances when these threats have been made good. What does it all say about our level of maturity as a people, our democracy, our level of free speech and our level of civilization? These speak volumes about our respect and regard for another human being for they separate the truly evolved from the rest. So, debates, discussions, discourses and deliberations must be a continuous process with more opportunities for diverse and disparate voices to be heard. After all, two (and more) heads are always better than one and we have had too many “one head” talking down at us, no? Earlier I had said “very few actually can muster the courage to publicly air their views” ~ that actually reveals the absence of the atmosphere and environment for free speech in Naga society and should worry us. Especially in the past couple of years or so, we have been going hammers and tongs about corruption, our dilapidated infrastructures, Clean Election, Prohibition and what-not but we are yet to even whisper about free speech, which is the foundation of not only a democratic society and state but more importantly an evolved state of being. Without free speech, our issues will always remain so because we are disabled and dis-empowered to hit the heart of matters.