Overcoming wiles of familiarity

Witoubou Newmai

Does familiarity breed indifference? Human beings over the years have had been grappling with the question. Consequently, there is always a human’s proclivity to fall into the “deceptive wiles of familiarity” and the current editorial is a reminder to be wary of such tendency.


In the context of Christianity, author and ‘collegiate missionary’ Peter Krol opined that “Unexamined familiarity will prevent you from looking at the Book (the Bible).”


“Such familiarity crowds out curiosity, [and] it imperceptibly stiffens necks, hardens hearts, and deafens ears,” he reasoned, further elaborating that it may lead people “to assume things that are not in the text, and it may blind people to things that are.”


This issue of familiarity, if extrapolated, can also holds good with any other issue, such as the Naga political issue.


In the case of Nagas, the peril of this familiar tendency persists, risking the razing of the issue to the collective monotony.


Or, are we there already? With upmost urgency, the question needs to be introspected.


A society engaging an important discourse such as ours, once overwhelmed by ambivalent feelings, can bring us to the situation reminiscent of what the Caribbean poet Derek Walcott posed in ‘A Far Cry from Africa,’: “…Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?”


Walcott, according to Amartya Sen, “cannot simply discover what is his true identity; he has to decide what he should do, and how—and to what extent—to make room for different loyalties in his life.”


The poem, Sen maintained, “captures the divergent pulls of historical African background, his (Derek Walcott) loyalty to the English language and the literary culture that goes with it.”


Contextualizing this to the prevailing Naga situation, the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), during its 28th General Conference at Bhandari town, Wokha, made a profound statement that: “For many years now the Naga people’s lives and future have been swinging between hope and uncertainty. Dreams and aspirations have been overwhelmed in the matrix of political conflicts, violence and instability.”


The NSF then called upon young Nagas “beyond borders to take a decisive stand on questions of peace and dialogue, reconciliation and healing, governance and accountability, development and growth, and all aspects of building the Naga future…and to come forward to share their concern and work together to structure a Naga future in the realms of fairness and justice.”


Coming to this point of discussion, and given the situation, it is very much appropriate and relevant to recall the Aung San Suu Ky’s public speech delivered on December 3, 1988 on the National Day of Burma: “If you ask whether we shall achieve democracy, whether there will be general elections, here is what I shall say: Don’t think about whether or not these things will happen. Just continue to do what you believe is right. Later on the fruits of what you do will become apparent on their own. One’s responsibility is to do the right thing.”


Reflecting on Kyi’s statement, not compromising one’s responsibility is the master key in an important journey such as that of the Naga people.