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Everyone is expert in defending oneself



A well known song lyrics (Abbatou) of my village reads, “you don’t smell your own excreta, but smell others excreta – eat my excreta, eat my excreta.” Indeed it is true, when I shit or dispose my excreta, I never murmur about the smell of my excreta. But, when I enter a toilet just after somebody comes out, I smell a lot, which makes me even cover my nose sometimes. The meaning of this song is simple – we don’t realize our own sins and mistakes, but when others do something wrong, we are quick to recognize and point our fingers at them. Another song lyrics reads, “You are right in your eyes – I’m right in my own eyes – there is no one who is wrong. How true it is! Most of us are ‘truthful-liars’.
In life, finding other’s mistakes, gossip, lambast, belittle, condemn and speak contemptuous words is one of the easiest things to do. But, knowing one’s own sins, faults or mistakes, and admitting them with a penitent heart is extremely difficult – perhaps, one of the hardest things to do in our life. At times, we hear some people say, if you see anything bad or undesirable in me, please comment me openly or tell me frankly. Nonetheless, such statement is hard for me to believe. To some extent, all of us could hold on to hear comments and suggestions. But as I think and ponder, most of us fail to readily accept when somebody reveals the truth or the real colour of us. We desire truth, love truth, talk about truth and want others to live a truthful life, but when we are corrected truthfully, infuriation reign over us. Though we don’t counter attack, we are irked by the correcting and reprimanding words. This is not my simple assumption, but I have witnessed certain incidents that support my statement.  Once, an outspoken man brazenly  said, if we want to speak ill of others, we should not do in front of the person, for it will lead us only to quarrel and fight. Evidently, though we are corrected in a right way, unhappiness and fury overshadow us most of the time. Consequently, we assert our rights and defend ourselves by bringing all the ‘wrongful-right’ points. In defending oneself, a person is not required to be taught or advised by elders – everyone is expert. We are masters in this trivial, yet widely practiced profession.
 Let us unearth different methods and ways of defense, commencing with one interesting profession that is, ‘serving God’.  At times, Christian Ministers go wrong and it is evident – there is nothing to argue about it. Yet, if somebody tells them the flaw, they would reckon that it’s a kind of temptation or a test. They would recollect the words of the Bible such as, “you’ll be hated by many for Christ sake; people will criticize and accuse you for the cause of the Gospel and other encouraging verses of the Bible, in order to make the rectifying statement(s) appear wrong, meaningless and unacceptable. Their filthy defensive concepts and words are based on the ‘Holy Scriptures’, which could be considered as one of the strongest defenses among all the defenses. The ‘holy word’ to “heal” is made use of “compromising sins.”  
Now, let us turn our nose towards the mighty politicians (servants), who are lifting their necks high through the mercy of the public. We cannot say that all the politicians are unfaithful and corrupt, yet it is obvious and irrefutable that, there is rampant corruption in the political scenario today. When people raise their voice against them or oppose them for their wrong deeds, they can defend smartly. They would say, human beings always complain and criticize– we cannot please everyone – if we could please everyone, we are better than Jesus. Their statement is true, but with it, they cover up their faux pass, failures and unwanted activities. They would brag by counting all the works they have done with the money of the Government.  Express your discontentment and disapproval to the ‘contractors’ for their shoddy works or their gross failures – they would blame the UG’s and the officers who sanction money to them. Interestingly, rueful words would come out from their sweet tongue itself for their second-rate works they have done, as though they would do splendidly if they get more money.
Rebuke or scold a student who fails in the exam or whose performance is very poor, he/she would defend by saying words such as, I was sick, I did well but the examiner might have checked the paper wrongly, my teacher didn’t teach well, questions came only out of syllabus, the teacher didn’t ask what I prepared, so forth and so on. If few outstanding students are appreciated and lauded, a weak student would say, if I study hard like them, I can also do well – even better than them. And if we comment a teacher who is said and considered to be weak, lazy and have laxities in duty, he/she would point out the weaknesses of the students. The teacher would say, despite of my intense enthusiasm and painstaking efforts to teach and foster the students, they don’t excel because of their stubbornness and idleness. Even though students are somehow spoilt due to their slackening attitudes, lack of drive, motivation and right action, they would blame entirely students for their disobedience. So, all the blame goes to the students.
If we expose the wrong realities of businessmen and women, they would question, what’s wrong in it? It is business! A business man would say many are selling things with much higher price than mine; I have incurred a heavy loss in the previous business, so I have to make up this time. Without getting profit, how can I do business? Absolutely right in defending!
Now let me pull you to NSCN (IM) world. I’m mentioning it because I don’t hate them. Undeniably, many of their acts are dirty and widely unacceptable. But they are one of the best defenders in the world. Unsurprisingly, their defenses are powerful, for it comes with caution and threat. Though it is very obvious that they are wrong, they could defend as if they are not. And they have one better advantage while defending – they would say, “You are against Naga Nation, if you don’t refrain from your protest or dissent, the consequence won’t be good.” Here I’m not trying to target NSCN (IM) alone; other UG Groups are not an exception. Many a times, we read their defensive words in the News papers, and it appears in a way that they are squeaky-clean masqueraders. However, I don’t take delight in considering that Underground Groups are the worse sinners and keep on smelling their excreta. So let us stroll down!
The youth are shining today. No doubt, many are obsessed in worldly pleasures, though I don’t specify. Thousands of young people consciously or unconsciously squander parent’s money and wealth. But, if someone shares it to them and correct them, they would say, it is young people’s life, nobody should interfere in our affairs – we won’t be young twice, so we have to enjoy when we’re young.
The common people seem to be very humble and innocent. They would humble down by saying that, they are illiterate, weak and poor. However, when we look at their life, they gossip a lot. It is plain that, despite of their confession of being poor, illiterate and frail, they too have utter egoism and pride. If some Godly people tell them to repent their life, they would be brisk to compare and say, even those leaders do that… behave that way… live such an impure life etc. By pointing out weaknesses of the straying leaders, they defend themselves well.
What do we gain by defending? Due to series of scam cases, few leaders of the UPA Coalition Government, whom I regard and hold in high esteem have been vehemently opposed and accused. Nevertheless, they persist to defend and be complacent with themselves. As they’ve been opinionated and continue to flaunt by counting all their credentials, their image have been diabolically tarnished. It’s a big blow for the UPA Government, as currently; their position is shaky and vulnerable. So, the outcome of being defensive is clear. Now, after reading all these thoughts, do you think the writer has not defended himself?  He cannot evade from the reader’s mind and judgment.
Evidently, it’s easy to lash at the leaders and belittle them for their performance flops, but to lead others in an effective way is not easy at all. We have paper presentations in the college. In fact, it’s easy for me to point out all the errors in the papers presented by others and critique in a way that the paper is not reliable. However, when I prepare my own paper, I find very difficult to make it authentic and reliable. When somebody make mistakes on the stage, it’s easy to laugh at them, but when we stand, it’s not easy to do well. A good stage performer doesn’t laugh quickly at others, for he/she has learnt that good performance comes with much difficulty and trials. Those are weak taunt and belittle others more.
So, I discovered that everyone is expert in defending oneself. Though we don’t defend by uttering words, we do it in our mind and heart which is still an active defense. We witness many conflicts, quarrels and fight because we defend ourselves wrongly and assert our rights. Indeed, we are prompt in asserting rights but fail in acknowledging duties. Leo Tolstoy had aptly stated, “Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change oneself.” This is one of my favourite quotes.  You want to change your family, but you don’t want to change yourself… I want to change my Church, but I don’t want to change myself… parents want to change their children, but they don’t want themselves… teachers want to change the students, but they don’t want to change themselves… theologians want to change lay men and women, but they don’t want to change themselves. We want to change the politicians, contractors, drunkards and UGs, but we don’t want to change our life. Many a times, people preach and teach people to change and transform life, but it’s very, very difficult. Therefore, today, it’s of utmost importance to preach and teach on, ‘why we find very hard to change’. It’s pertinent for everyone to reason and question, why I find hard to change my life. According to me one of the main reasons is that we don’t smell our own excreta, but smell only others excreta. I’m right in my own eyes and you are right in your own eyes. Does it sound preposterous? It’s a simple truth. For, to change one’s life, one must admit his/her sins, weaknesses and failures. But, the door of picturing our sins is clogged by the boxes of other sins that we put often by our big eyes and sharp mind. So, what must we do to do away with unhealthy defense(s) that ruin our life? It might sound odd and inappropriate to read, but my High School Math teacher taught us to practice ‘self criticism’. I do it sometimes, and found it to be enriching and helpful. Spend few minutes in criticizing yourself by recollecting your wrong deeds and ways of life! It requires our ‘will’ and ‘penitent heart’. Let us begin to murmur about the smell of our own excreta when we shit; So that, when we enter a toilet after somebody comes out, it won’t smell bad and unpleasant. If your excreta become smelly to you, it’s a great achievement – you are on the road to ‘transformation’.
Liba Hopeson, BTC
(Baptist Theological College)
Pfutsero – 797107 Dist.Phek Nagaland.

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