“To be or not to be, that is the question” is what Hamlet asked when faced with the dilemma of existence. Indeed, life attains its significance only in the face of such existential predicament: Is life worth living? Yet, what makes life worth living are dreams, dreams that give life its meaning and purpose. Without dreams, the essence of humanity is lost. What redeems us as persons, as individuals is our capacity to dream and dare to achieve that which we have envisioned for ourselves. Let not the fate of Hamlet be the fate of our society’s youth.
Dream Child Dream!
Several discourses have been carried out on the problems of youth confronting our society today. Informal discussions on this issue has become common with parents at homes and other places of gathering. Yet, solutions seem to be elusive. Increasingly, we are witnessing violent and restlessness, degrading moral values, rise in mental illness and disturbing fashions and trends. To top it all, much like Trishanku, our youth appears to be suffering from incurable dilemmas, which keeps oscillating at the crossroads of modernity and tradition.
There’s no denial that over the years there has developed a segregation between the two types of youth in our society. This calls for initiating necessary measures at the earliest before the gap becomes too prominent for change. I had the chance to get some insightful and personal stories of teenagers at a prayer institute. One in particular, a twisted story of a boy, got me thinking: we were never born wicked; it is the situation and certain kinds of treatment that branded us as evil and changed the direction of who we want to become.
This boy’s mother had left him when he was very young. After 18 long years, he reunited with his mother. But his mother would introduce him to her neighbors as her cousin. One day he decided to kill her for all the pains she caused him and for being ashamed of claiming him as her own son. With this single purpose of ending her mother’s life, he joined a satanic cult to gain extraordinary powers. Thankfully, perhaps by divine intervention, before he could realize his goal, he ended up at the prayer institute. His future appears bleak but he hopes to make it big someday.
Another story of a 15 year old girl: her parents sent her to a boarding school from Class I, though they lived in the same town. She hated it and felt unwanted. She wasn’t able to comprehend why she couldn’t live with her parents. In order to get their attention she tried all sorts of repulsive things, but in vain. She never could get what she wanted - the attention and love of her parents. However, if you ask her about her dreams, her face would immediately light up. She has so much passion for fashion and modelling. I wonder, will she ever get the support of her parents to pursue her dream?
One more: a young boy once told me that he has no aim in life, and there’s no point in having one because he’s not bright enough to crack competitive exams, and there is no hope in becoming an entrepreneur either as his parents are not rich enough to help him start his venture. I was confronted with a predicament for which I had no wisdom to offer. The ambiguous attitude of our youth towards government jobs being the only respectable and secure occupation is sadly too common. As far as entrepreneurship is concerned, many wrongly believe that only individuals from well-to-do families can become successful. We get so caught up with reports of corruption and other issues of our State that we neglect these issues that require our immediate attention. Our youth are highly misinformed about life.
One of the major contributors to these issues, I believe, is a lack of inspiring role models. We haven’t had a great leader that we could look up to in a very long time. If you ask the youngsters today who Dr Talimeran Ao is, don’t be flabbergasted by their response because they have no idea about the history of this great Naga footballer! The story of how Dr T. Ao led the Indian Football Team in London without football boots on his feet, or the story of how our brave Naga leaders walked for days secretly and managed to reach Guwahati to listen to Mahatma Gandhi remain unknown to the new generation. There are many inspiring stories like these, but sadly we are forgetting them all.
In Assam, an outdoor stadium at Koliabor (near Nagaon), and an indoor stadium at Cotton College in Guwahati has been named after Dr Talimeren Ao, but nothing befitting his legacy has been done in Nagaland. Why have we stopped glorifying all these great Naga people? Our youngsters should be aware of these sublime stories, feel proud, and be inspired. Being brave; standing up for what we believe in, even if it means sacrificing our lives and helping out one another in the community, is an integral part of our roots. These good-old-days’ tradition should be passed on from generation to generation as we progress towards modernity.
On the brighter side we do have so many extraordinarily talented and brilliant young people who need proper guidance to unleash their full potential. I am optimistic that if we come together as parents, educators, and citizens, encourage our youth to look beyond government jobs, give them enough attention and let them understand the value of family and friendship, adorn them with moral values, quality education, and equip them with life skills and a sense of patriotism, then, like a comet through flames we will seize the future triumphantly.
Is this visionary dream of another Naga woman going to the guillotine, to be mocked and then killed by her pessimist readers? Even though we are not too fortunate to have a glorious past due to our struggle for identity and freedom, we can still write our stories of victory. The past does not write our future, we do! If we filter out the best of traditions and modernity, nothing can stop our youth from going far in life. The question is this - is our society listening to our stories ... the stories of our dreams?
Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognized Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.