I daresay we do not have leaders – the ones we have, have been imposed upon us and actually represent us. Soldiers and leaders have a far better relationship with each other than we with our representatives. If we were to experience a crisis it would have to be every man for himself – the leaders would not be able to stand the test of leadership in such a situation. The opinion that we need leaders is admittedly taken for granted: how one becomes a leader is the problem. In short we need to differentiate between an opinion (why we need a leader) and a cause (how we get our leaders).
Opinions are what we come up with, they are not the cause – sadly for the present we have set aside the our opinion of what kind of a leader we need, or in case we think we have not, then the reality of how we got our leaders remains in our subconscious because thus far the leaders we have has been set in money, it is the unequivocal case with elections in Meghalaya. Money or the desire for money is being used as the promoter for a raise in social status – “I give you money you help me raise my status” – the people have succumbed to it.
For the present we live in the age of tragedy where the powerful and the influential implement ridiculous and absurd things to keep themselves well ensconced where they are; they use every tyrannical mode in getting it to happen, especially the modes of money, talk and religion. It is obvious that these tragic leaders are also a means towards the progress or regress of the society, essentially the latter, inspite of their belief that they promote the interests of society.
When the need for a representative in Parliament or the State Assembly should be based on the wisdom and nobility of the individual we find that more than anything else, money has become the driving force behind the election of our representatives. Money is used to deceive the gullible, and there are more of the gullible category, and gradually still more money is used to create a trend that when the elections come its “money time” once more and before we know what we have landed ourselves into, money has become the most preferred instrument for anyone contesting the elections.
This is happening right now because parliamentary elections are around the bend. The reason behind the people who use this different mode of getting things done is usually to be found in some oddity in their lifestyle or appearance…thwarted development, lack of proper education, deficit of proper nutrition in their diet and a general deficit or excess of some organic salt in their blood and brain; in brief, in their nature. They have the tendency to make decisions based on their nature and to heed its demands more than anything else.
In this general backdrop, if we consider how much the energy of young men and women needs to explode these days one is not surprised to discover that the easiest thing to deceive people into thinking that one is promoting their interests is by acting as a holy emissary or by financial support to whatsoever cause they come up with. From time to time these two instinctive forces are equally at work on the highest and the basest men and women that even the wise and the true leaders vote for someone that is totally opposed to their rationale, instead of contesting themselves.
And when this happens, the reasons behind the choice of a MLA or MP is surrounded by a resplendent retinue of reasons that draws us to forget that at bottom we have succumbed to the folly of the mediocre – we have given up questioning and reasoning why we need the kind of leader that wisdom prompts. We elect a leader only so that he becomes a leader by virtue of the chair. Isn’t that the case with the MPs that we have been sending to Parliament for the past two decades? Isn’t that the case with many of the MLAs we have sent to the Assembly?
There is no denying that in the run up to an election every wise prompting has been vanquished by money, laughter, ridiculous talk, selfishness, drink and dance and empty promises that suit the nature of the masses. Reason has always given way to mass hysteria and laughter which in the end overwhelms even the greatest reasoning. Inspite of all this craziness which negates everything good, human nature nevertheless will change, albeit late, by the ever new appearance of teachers of the purpose of existence. And in Meghalaya the need for the ever new appearance of such teachers and teachings of a purpose has become more than a necessity – it is now an imperative.
As Khasi-Pnars we have always believed that there is a purpose for our existence hence the cardinal principles on which we established ourselves as a society prior to the advent of Christianity – and which later found expression in the written word in 1902 when Radhon Singh Berry documented the famous “Ka Jingsneng Tymmen” which translates into “Precepts of Maturity or Precepts of Khasi-Pnar Ethics” a book loaded from start to finish with conscientious principles. Indeed those that would offer conscientious advice have become so timid these days that which attracts the eye trumps every other cause – the sight of the neatly packed bundles stashed nearby.
The opinions on why we need to elect a good leader are totally lost sight of. Subtle seducers and we have plenty of them now, know the art of arousing expectations and make no effort to furnish noble reasons for their cause. Reasons and manifestos are not what win elections.
In this age, bribery and greed have reached their peak among the Khasi-Pnars, for the love of the newly discovered ego is much more powerful than the love for the land and its people which is now dead and buried by the style we have chosen to live by. There is hardly any secure future left; one lives for today and this state of the soul makes us easy prey for the seducers. Sadly we allow ourselves to be bribed and seduced for the day thinking that we are reserving our virtue for the future – that is the biggest mistake we are making.
The reason behind contesting the elections is a means to create an asset for oneself and there is no shame in admitting, “I’m in it for myself” for they consider themselves more important than the future of the people and the land and that is why they attach themselves to forms of violence in order to win knowing that there are many young energetic men and women ready to attach themselves to violence for money.
Our leaders sadly think of themselves and would like others to think of them in the way Napoleon once expressed in his classical manner, “I have the right to answer all accusations against me with an eternal, “That’s me.” I am apart from the world and accept conditions from nobody. I demand subjection even to my fantasies, and people should find it quite natural when I yield to this or that distraction.”
In Soso Tham’s greatest literary work, “Ki Sngi Barim U Hynniewtrep,” literally, “The Olden Days of The Seven Huts (i.e. the Khasi-Pnar race)” the career of the race from the age of innocence to the present, its lapses into errors and wrong-doings and its consequent alienation from God is more than prophetic. Fortunately he was not wrong; fortunately because the poem ends on a note of encouragement. Our salvation lies in our ability to see, and our ability to pursue, the better path.
The seeds of corruption have fallen in almost every heart just as the seeds of the forest trees that fall in every nook and corner of our forests, and just as these seeds carry the future of the forest ecosystem, the seeds of corruption are bound to colonise the hearts and minds of the Khasi-Pnar community and this, if not checked, is the beginning of the end of a people. The cause that can bring about a change in the lifestyle of the people is more powerful than that of the opinions people express. Opinions, along with all proofs, refutations, and the whole intellectual masquerade are merely symptoms and expressions of the change in taste that the people have developed as mentioned at the very start; opinions are most certainly not what they are supposed to be – the options.