Not a random word

A word is being repeated by random people on the streets, and also at serious interviews. It is sometimes the answer to the favourite question of interviewers: What is your message to young people of today? Or, what is your message to the world?It is interesting that the majority of answers to that question are, ‘Be nice.’ Some say ‘Be kind.’ That sums up what is missing in today’s world. It will need to be repeated much more often in tomorrow’s world. Some parts of the world are not nice anymore. In those parts, people are being killed simply because they belong to a particular ethnic and religious group. In those parts, children playing outside their houses have been kicked by strangers simply because they are members of that certain ethnic group. The need for kindness is even more acute in our lives today. It is kindness and not regulations that will protect citizens from assaults outside our homes. Kindness is not a random word. It needs to be welcomed into our existences. How? By schools teaching it. By parents showing it. By churches preaching it and displaying it. Kindness can keep us safe on our streets. 

It is not only a Christian virtue. It was a big part of our cultural teachings. Do not mock the disabled members of society. Do not mock the mentally unbalanced. Respect your elders.These were a major part of our pre-Christian cultures. And it was because our forefathers knew something. Unkindness can destroy the society from within. Vital lessons like this cement the village. In today’s bigger village where different languages, customs, mindsets and backgrounds coexist in a melting pot of sorts, is it possible to teach these lessons of our cultures in schools and churches? Does it only have tocome out of a morung? And if there are no morungs in town, what then? Will this teaching come to an end? Perish the thought. In town, today’s morungs are the churches for those who go to church, and the schools for those who go to school. And the schools have the even more important role for dissipating this teaching. Let the young learn that it is beneficial to be kind; that kindness is its own reward and can be externally rewarded too. 

It might seem funny that kindness has to be taught. One would assume it came with the territory if you were a human being. Obviously, it does not. We have seen too many instances of its opposite and are convinced it has to be taught vigorously again to a generation who have clearly grown up without the privilege of morung cultures. Technology has also played a devil’s errand in separating people from their cultural teachings. Suddenly we are living in a world where the world is too close and too accessible to us on our phones, while our own world is in danger of collapsing, metaphorically speaking. Our reality has taken many knocks in recent times. May we learn. May we begin afresh by prioritising cultural teachings again. Because at the heart of those teachings is respect for our fellow man, and ultimately, respect for human life. No, kindness is not a random word. 
Cyclones and other monsters
Life is too fragile; it is too easy to die. Mizoram reports the tragedy of a family losing five of its members in a landslide caused by the cyclone. For some, a cyclone is a monster that stays in the closet and roars in the distance. For others it is the hand of death. Many have been reporting losses from wind and rain damage.  In  Noksen town the Catholic church was destroyed in the heavy storm. Old houses in Kohima have leaking roofs and cracked floors. Colonies in Imphal have been hard-hit and are struggling with submerged roads and houses. One family alone has taken in 20 relatives whose houses are submerged. The monster  in the closet has broken loose and its destruction is very real. May there be succour in the morning. May we also learn to help the less fortunate. Stay safer everyone.