Dialogue of the deaf

Human failure to respond to the natural call for transformation indicates that they have lost their capacity to make relevant structural adjustments with change. In the process humans have become immune to the cries for truth and justice and fall prey to the ‘dialogue of the deaf.’ The dialogue of the deaf forces circumstances on people to readily resort to reactive violence as a means of ensuring change. Failure to recognize this leads to reconstructing a status quo in which the oppressed could easily become the oppressor. 

Peoples movement are encouraged to embrace broader understandings of knowledge, culture, patterns of interaction and relationships for social change. One challenge is to seek ways in which movements can restore the transformative elements of relationship not only between peoples but also between people and the structures in which they co-exist. Unless this restoration takes place, movements for social changes will invariably continue to perpetuate the dominant understanding of relationship, which is violent in itself.

Social and political movements seeking proactive change towards freedom and dignity require a due process in which people must seize and reclaim their past. If the people do not seek to create their own version of their past, some other people – in most cases strangers – will do it from them. Such an act would result in breaking down indigenous knowledge and cultural values, subsequently reducing space and capacity of indigenous societies to pass their own stories to following generations. No story means no hope and ultimately people lose ownership of its destiny and are frozen in time. 

Culture is probably one fundamental attribute which can challenge the dialogue of the deaf. Yet its role in social movements have often been undermined, primarily because culture has been deconstructed from the standing point of the dominant view. It is not surprising that the dominant view tends to equate culture with both tradition and custom; while the latter two concepts are static, culture in itself is a dynamic entity. Culture needs to be redefined in a way that allows a movement to recover its true essence. 

Fanon says, culture is the whole body of efforts made in the sphere of thought to describe, justify and praise the action through which people create and keeps itself in existence. Vandana Shiva adds, it is culture which enables a people to establish and understand what constitutes knowledge. Culture constructs meaning of the reality and determines the ‘center’ of every bei of the various strivings. All people are all connected with a ‘center’ but are Nagas in touch with theirs?