To ‘reinvent’ ourselves with time

Witoubou Newmai

Amartya Sen in his celebrated book, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny, says that “important choices have to be made even when crucial discoveries occur.” He adds, “Life is not mere destiny.”

The above comments can also mean, in a faint distant point, that one doesn’t need to wait for problems to get resolved altogether. From Sen’s opinion till this point of argument, there are so many things to be filled in for clarity. However, it is not possible to link the two opinions in sequence in this small editorial in want of space.

The Naga political issue remains unresolved. It does not mean that one should remain static. This, again, does not mean that one should not endorse the resolution of the issue. The Naga political issue needs to be resolved with a correct chord for justice to prevail.

However, as the Naga political issue remains unresolved for a long time, we have ‘sleepwalked’ into so many unintentional situations where we really do not want to be in. Worse is also about our inability to see ‘prognostications’ which may be already there in abundance. As such has become our situations, it is extremely imperative to intensely and aggressively understand things to suit the paradigmatic changes of situations.

Talking about the paradigmatic changes, public intellectual Yuval Noah Harari has been telling the world that “something different is coming - maybe in the next 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years or 40 years”. The internationally acclaimed historian from Israel who talks about the future also tells us that “it is not something we need to think about in 2040”. He asks the world to think today.

To him, issues like identity are a fictional story. “They are not the truth. They are not the reality,” Harari keeps saying. He also says, “It is just a story that people invent and tell one another and start believing”. According to Harari, “all identities are extremely unstable.”

There are debates to these ideas but the moot point to note is, yes, the world continues to see paradigmatic changes with overarching ideas and concepts, and it is accelerating at a great pace. As many concepts are not static, our 'daft' about many things or otherwise cannot be eternal.

One of the most important things Harari has been saying is about the shifting away of 'authority' from humans to algorithms. “More and more decisions are actually being taken by algorithms,” he says. He drives his point home by saying, “If you ask the bank for a loan, chances are your fate is decided by an algorithm…”

One can still treat it as another prognostication, but sweeping changes or big ideas influencing people are real.

It is worth noting about the blasts of big ideas and concepts in the world in the past 30 years---Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (1992), Samuel Phillips Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Sen’s Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny and now from Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014), Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018). These big thinkers synthesize their areas of working with the underlying things.

Since the Naga political issue is noticeably to do with the issue of justice/injustice, it is not an issue du jour. The issue will remain as long as it is not resolved with the right chord. But then, we need to "reinvent" ourselves continuously with great fervour and in high degrees. This would also mean that we need to accommodate other loyalties as Harari and Sen share.

Sen has this to tell us through his book: “In a nonsolitarist understanding of human identity, involvement with such issues need not demand that our national allegiances and local loyalties be altogether replaced by a global sense of belonging, to be reflected in the working of a colossal ‘world state’. In fact, global identity can begin to receive its due without eliminating our other loyalties”.

Meanwhile concluding rather abruptly, the moot point altogether is: how we face the unfurling situations to our advantage will also depend on the degree of our enthusiasm to "reinvent" ourselves with time.

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