Snake or Rope?

Dr Asangba Tzudir

“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.” – Noam Chomsky

The above quote by Chomsky is an apt reflection of the times we are witnessing in our society that seems to be unperturbed by the realities and issues at hand. Such a condition seriously begs the question – Do ‘we’ have a concern? What is our concern, and what should be our concern. This comes in the context of the greater good, for prosperity and for the well-being of the society.
At present, the level in which the idea of the ‘concern’ can be located is on the individual’s well being. Based on this premise, it can simply be said that ‘life and living simply finds reduced to nothing more than ‘facticity’, the mere fact of existence having been born into this world. 

Thus, to find meaning and purpose and for the well-being of the society at large, there is need for each and every individual to transcend beyond the ‘facticity’ of life, so also transcend the level of ‘concern’ towards the well being of the society.

The well-being of the society largely depends on how the people understand and handle the larger confronting issues. However, beyond the simple perception of the routine activities, the people as a whole have failed to see ‘what really is happening’ and more so, why things are happening the way in which it has and is happening.

In Indian Philosophy, the discourse on error is centered on why the perceiver fail to see what is ‘presented’ to the eyes and how the perceiving eyes fail to see that which is ‘presented’ and end seeing that which is ‘represented’, like the erroneous perception of seeing a ‘represented’ snake instead of ‘presented’ rope. 

In perspective, while we have been so comfortably nestled in our own comfortable confines and created a very narrow and shallow idea of individuals well-being, it has also prevented us from transcending towards the ‘concern’ for the greater good of the society. Added to this, because of our ‘erroneous perception’, we see only what is ‘represented’ and have failed to see what actually is ‘presented.’ 

It is the conditions that have largely caused the error, like the absence of light or the distance away from the object, or a defective sight. However, to a large extent it is the mental conditioning, the societal conditioning etc. that causes the error of perception. Sadly, we live in the represented world instead of the presented world, and therefore we are yet to realize the erroneous perception or judgment that there actually is a rope. 

On one hand, we don’t actually know what is happening, yet, it is the collective failure to understand the reality of the issues and problems that has become the most worrying factor today. It has resulted in chaos; it has resulted in violence leading to loss of many lives, and it has severely disrupted the ideals of unity and brotherhood.  

It is time for each individual to transcend beyond the ‘facticity’ of life and simple existence, and find the real meaningful ‘self’ and try to engage in ‘discourses’, of issues and challenges and sincerely dialogue with the others in consideration of the larger good and well-being of the community and society at large. Only through a sincere dialogue the error/s arising out of wrong perception can be erased. 

To this end, the intellectual has a greater role to play to help rectify the conditions that has so long prevented the people from seeing the right perception. This will enable people to come together to generate healthy dialogues, and most pertinently for the people to unlearn and relearn.
Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to The Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to