Communication breakdown and peace education in Manipur

Louriyam Bebica *

In a state like Manipur, searching for peace is like searching for a needle in haystacks. Everyone seems to be in need of it desperately but nothing in hand to find it. There could be many other reasons for this. For me, let me put forward two reasons:

(i) 'I' becoming very popular.
(ii) Our society's environment is too violent.

When the number of 'Eye' specialists increase we can broaden our shoulders bcoz it is the sign of stepping into developed state. However, in case of 'I' specialist increasing, just larger your eyes and asked yourself

- Hello, what's going on? Don't we need to stop this?

The more 'I' specialist increase in number, love, respect and value of 'Other' reduces. It becomes a bridge to destroy the river of 'Peace'.

It is said that we are not born with violence nature. It is our environment that made us so violent. We can have some examples here to elaborate. You can try asking this question to young kids.

- What are your favorite things?

The following will be their answer in order.

1. Mobile (both male and female kids)

2. Bike (both male and female kids)

3. Gun (specially boys)

The last one, they will even demonstrate with action holding a stick, pointing at you and screaming dhichong, dhichong… It has become a desirable dream for most of the teenage boys to have a gun in hand. It doesn't matter whether they possessed it through legal or illegal ways. The only thing that matters to them is gun. Bcoz that stands for 'power'.

Another example, we can have is from my own experienced. I don't know how Gandhiji managed to give another side of his face when other side was slapped by someone. Normally, we raise our hands before we speak (chindagi khutna hanba). Once, one of my friends from Mizoram visited me in Imphal. We were coming out to where we have parked our car after shopping. I saw one gentleman on bike giving a clash push at the back of my car. I rushed to the spot and began abusing him with all the possible non-sense dialogue. I was pointing my index finger under his nose. Both of us were quarrelling like anything. On the other hand, my friend reacted so calmly. She came into the scene so meekly, giving me a smiling look, she asked

- Bebi, how did you managed to reach here so fast? As my knowledge is concerned, I think, you are basically a slow walker, right? 'M surprise at the speed of your steps. Wow! How did you managed to do it? Else, you always hold my hand saying 'M tired, M tired'.

I could not give any reply. I just gave her an annoying expression and shut my mouth. She moved ahead and began to talk to the fellow.

- Sir, I would like to say sorry on behalf of my friend. So, what can we do now?

I was horribly annoyed at her for using the word 'sorry" bcoz, I wasn't wrong. To me, he was wrong. He banged at my car not I. But I gave her the space of conversation and step back behind. After five minutes of talk, the fellow was happily willing to pay the money for compensation + money in form of apology. When we came back home, I was still very angry.

- Why did you say sorry?

It was my first question.

- Haha… So your mind is still flowing in the stream of that river?

- Nothing like that. But I wasn't sorry.

- Humm. Dear, 'sorry' is not a heavy word to pronounce. If this very word 'sorry' can solve the problem then why not we used it? Another point is if the person is willing to accept his/her mistake then you also should be ready to accept their apology. Bcoz, mistake can happen with anyone. In today's incident, though he hits the car it was your false.

- What? I shouted narrowing my eyebrows and raising the tone of my voice.

- Yes. If he was ignoring of what he did, then your way of talking or reacting might be acceptable. Though, I feel that your way of communication system was not acceptable in any kind of situation. He was very much into sense of his mistake. But you were taking the sole role of the communication. You didn't allow him to talk or listen to him. So, how can you called it as communication? See dear, communication is about sharing not powering. You can't sneeze without closing your eyes. Likewise, communication can't take place without the involvement of both speaker and listener. You were giving a monologue totally ignoring the side of the presence of other's side in the context. How can you say it was a communication?

It was her reasoning points to my question. Though, I pretended to disagree, I know that she was right. In my case of communication, both the parties might end up being in jail also bcoz both of us were willing to break each other's head and peel off the skins. On the other hand, my friend communicated in such a way that none of us were in lost mentally, financially and spiritually.

In our state, 90% of people are like me. The communication system we used here is completely in the speaker's domain where listener is ignored totally. When government speaks, people don't listen. When people speak, government doesn't listen. When parents speak, children don't listen. When children speak, parents don't listen. So, my question is

- Are we communicating or at least trying to communicate?

The fear of violence is not only on the mind of common people but also among the VIPs or high level position holders. Even the Ministers often said this.

- In our state, none knows of our fate once we set out our feet from home.

See, if it is the feeling of a Minister who walked with security escorts around him then what could be the condition of we common people? The disturbance in our mentality by violence is so deep rooted that it appears 'natural' and 'a master discourse beyond question'. In simple word

- Everything is happening bcoz it has to happen.

Due to this impact, majority of our people has disturbed psychological interpretation of meaning. For instance, we panic to death at any kind of huge/loud sounds like crackers, tyre puncture, etc. To those sounds, our first interpretation will be.

- Oh, was it a bomb blast? Or was it a gun shoot? Could anyone be dead? Where do we hide for safety?

We can't blame them for this negativity. It is bcoz we live in such a type of environment where violence is very common. Our kids learned to pronounce bandh, strike, curfew, bomb, gun….before learning A for Apple. Since, the first lexical item has become day to day's material of conversation in families in front of our kids. The communication breakdown is not about good or bad. It is about power and ethnocentric. It is for 'I'. I don't know why we need to be a narcissus. Bcoz the beauty of life lies in the colourful combinations. If God has given the chance to create our world again, 'M sure he will take back the features of communication that he gifted to us.

- Take it back. What is the use? They don't wanna use it so let them not use it. I gave them to live in peace through communication. They seem to forget that there is no problem without solution. The thing they have to do is to communicate and shared their thought. But they only know how to bleed each other so let them be in pain.

I thought peace education could be an important measure to safe from this pathetic situation of our society. You might ask me why peace education? Why not 'peace poster' or 'peace speech'? Why does it need to be in academic curriculum? To this, what I can say is the role played by a teacher on a young mind is more like a word from God. Let's have an example here. Once my sister left me home with her daughter, she asked me to finish her home work before she goes for day sleep. Since, I believed in demonstrative/practical teaching, I collected few stuffs to demonstrate what was inside her book.

I : A - apple (taking out an apple from refrigerator)

Niece : A - apple.

I : B - box (lifting a box in my hand).

Niece : B - ball.

I : No, it's B - box.

Niece: Yes, B - ball.

I: I said, B - box. (again shaking the box in front of her).

Niece: B - ball.

When, I asked her why did she keeps saying ball, she replied.

- Our Miss said B - ball.

That is the influence; a teacher can give to a student. They took their teacher's word to be the final word.

Many scholars have defined Peace Education in their own ways. Generally, it is the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitude skill and behavior to live in harmony with oneself, with Others and with the natural environment. In a very simple form, it is the process of creating an emotion that will relief oneself from violence and respecting the value of 'other'. 'M using this 'O' bigger than normal size bcoz other's value played a very important role in maintaining peace. The more you respect and value other the less violence will be there. The day we can have a meaningful communication between us and respect other's value, throwing this sense of 'I' specialist, the government of Peace will definitely grant our application to be in their palace.

Let's have unity in diversity
Diversity in unity.

* Louriyam Bebica wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
She may be contacted art bebicalouriyam708[AT]gmail[DOT]com
This article was posted on August 17, 2012 .

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