Peace Count Academy, 2014 at Shillong

Louriyam Bebica *

Peace Count Academy held in Shillong, 21th to 25th October 2014
Peace Count Academy held in Shillong, 21st to 25th October 2014

I thought it's important and necessary to give a sketch of our contemporary society before I shared some experiences in Peace Count Academy held in Shillong, 21st to 25th October 2014.

If we try to present the definition of democracy as written in Indian constitution, people might get bore, as I do. So, let me put it in this way-the basic rule of democracy is making the rules by our own. It is not accepting what it is but questioning to find the solution of the problem. Let me give an example, when I told Michael that I am used to the way I am now (a life where nothing of my taste), he said
-"so you are no longer a human who has a brain that does the work of thinking and critical analysis. You are a robot, who does what the owner says to do?"
I know, he was pulling my legs but deep down he spoke what was truth, I no longer have the deepest meaning of being born as a human. He was 110% right when he compared me with the robot.
-"Shut up and be silent", this is what we were being taught in home, school, college and university (the places where we got our all learning). It has become a normal behavior to be silent, as our society considered it as a part of being polite.

Peace Count Academy

If I bring its full face, many people might say that I am only standing on the ground of academic campus and talking nonsense, which will not be applicable to common man. So let me not do that, instead let me tell you how amazing these people like us (common man) is doing in life to maintain peace. In a simple way-these are the group of people who trained to manage conflict to retain peace. We don't need to be a celebrity or known person to be a part of it. Don't you think their work is greater than those celebrities? I am glad that I get the chance to be a part of it. They are more precious than diamond for us because we, North-East are living in a frying pan of conflict and violence.

Why do we feel pride when we make weapons? Why? Is it going to give us any profit? Why we human feel so good about possessing those weapon which is made to destroy us. We were taught about the "survival for fittest" when we were at school. This concept scared me at the same time reason me of this world's system. The "cruelty" (I wish if I have harder word to use) that I see in our contemporary system has no traced even in "survival for fittest". Those animals don't prey their own people nor did they misuse their strength for NOTHING. In case of us, we are like those statues in a "military training camp" where the bullet will pierce us for sure for nothing at any jiffy. The only difference between those statues and us is "WE BLEED", though this fact has been ignored.

Our land is full of peace lovers but no peace makers. We talked and shout of peace, the need of bringing peace but how many of us really tried to do something for that? I guess 0.1%. To create the situation worse, those 0.1% will be considered crazy and jobless. It is very painful to see that thousands of people will come out to support violence but not a single fly will perch on the tree of peace making.

We learned the term 'non-violence' but we tend not to apply on real context. These groups of people bring all those people from each corner of the world who dares to apply the term in real context too. As I said, we human beings are social animal. We merged into terrified and helpless zone when we felt that we are the "odd one" means we are the only people who is going through a particular problem/pain. It is such a joy that other people at another part of the world has/is gone/going through the same problem as we do. This gave us the thought to learn the skill/steps, they used.

The society we are living

We are living in a society where amazing things loitered around us. Let's mention few of them, you will agree with me
o Traffic rules: You can never find a place like ours where there is no road (it will be unfair to call 'road' to Nagamapal lambi), no parking and traffic rules is nowhere to find. There is no 'right way' to any one than those animals who walk freely and haughtily anywhere, any time. Every one follows this rules "MY WAY IS HIGH WAY". The greatest part, we have no street lamps, but we still drive at night. Once one of my friend (Australian) came to our place, during Diwali festival. So we decided to take her for seeing lights. When we came back home, the first thing she asked me was "if your place is this much dark in light festival how dark will it be in normal days?"

o Cleanliness: As usual, we have wonderful concept on cleanliness. The houses will shine and sparkle but the path that is just behind or in front of their houses will be full of dirt. Let me take my own hostel. If you see the rooms inside you will feel, you are inside the five star hotel, if you see the baranda just outside their doors, you will feel if you are in slum area. This is how we define cleanliness.

o Two worlds: I really don't know how to tackle or perceived this. If it were in my hand, I would have definitely removed the root too. We are living in the two different worlds that is way a parts. In one world we were celebrating "Techxetra" (a function that is organized to celebrate the world of technology in Tezpur University) in another world (few steps from the place where Techxetra was organized), one boy was beaten to death because the villagers thought he was possessed by a bad spirit that forced him to have an affair with a widow.

o Bandh: Unlike the rest of the world we followed a calendar where "bandh" is a part of it, as a holiday. The outsiders often finds it strange. Once, we went to a village to organize an awareness camp. When we approached the village chief, the best possible day he suggested was "let's do it on first bandh. The other days, the villagers will be going for their works".

My friend stood stunned looking at me. I understood what he was saying but my friend seems to loss her connection with the conversation. She was expecting the chief to organize it on Sunday or some other general holidays. She has no idea that bandh is a part of our calendar.

o Fault: For us, fault is in our death not in our stars. No matters, for any reason we get kill, the fault is in our death. We will plead for the reason of our dear one's death till we get exhausted, with no answer from any one. For other states/countries, it is who, why and where the person was killed? Here, the man who died is the loser. It was his/her fault that he/she is death. o The basic sense of leadership: Leadership is an action not a position. The work of a leader is not increasing the followers but creating more leaders. Leaders should be among us not in front or behind us. When the qualities of a leader was list out by one of the facilitator in the seminar, one of the participant brushed out laughing. When we asked him why he was laughing he told us ->"I feel pity and funny of myself that our leaders (both who claimed to be freedom fighters and also those government makers) are those people who are drop out from the schools and joined the group because their parents did not buy them bikes. The other group is those people who did not mind taking money even from a rickshaw driver as they need to get back the amount of the money they paid at the time of joining their jobs. Despite knowing everything, I/we am allowing them to be our leaders only because they have POWER and GUN".

o Corruption: we strongly condemn corruption. Many awareness campaigns are held, but does it really practice? No way, we want to remove corruption but we don't want to stop looking for short cut way to get our job done. We are complaining of those fellows who take bribe. What about us who is giving the bribe? That's why my dad often says we are very good in fighting for our RIGHTS but worse in performing even small and basic DUTY. If I continue writing every corners of our society, I won't able to end at any point.

Need of peace/non-violence study in formal education

When we were introduced to IPA sound and symbols in BA English literature course, the first thing I told the professor was "we should have started learning it when we were in nursery".

Because, by the time we are in graduation, we already used to the system of our own pronunciation which was fully influenced by our own mother tongue. It was really tough job, trying to replace old habitual knowledge. We could somehow managed to carry it out when we are conscious, however, we stick on to our own pronunciation once we are out of conscious.

The same way, we are not realizing the need to train our children how to 'keep peace' and 'manage conflict'. We are brought up in the society where we believed and followed "tinnadringeida hanna yeinou" means "fight before you make friends". They encouraged us to get into violence.

I was trying to find out the possible reasons for this. Why are we so wild in nature? Some said, it's in our blood, some said we were born to be warrior and some said it's because of our history where kings were busy in war. We never want to feel "odd/different". So I tried to convince myself with the idea that wildness is in our blood. I won't lie I can't convinced totally.

When we say, wildness is in our blood then there should be some symptom of it when the baby is born. I did not see that. The baby born in Imphal and the baby born in America seems to share the same smile and cuteness. There is no sign of hatred or wildness. So don't you think it's not fair when we say violence or wildness is in our blood? Don't you think it is our society that has made us in this way?

Now let's see the second argument that it is the result of history. I was confused on this too. The history of Europe is an example were the history book's pages are full of war story. It doesn't mean they still continue.

For me, it is the misleading "idea of war" and "peace" that gave a wrong perception to people. The elder generation tend to narrate or portrait the scene of a war as work of heroism. They told us only the process and techniques of war, keeping us blind from the result/destruction, the pain, lost. For instance, we are taught to fight before we make friends. But our parents/elder generation didn't tell us the pain we will feel after fighting. Don't you think there would have been other ways to make friends?

The concept of 'peace 'is also misled by many powerful people. For instance, let's say in Sri Lanka, if we go and try to preach of 'peace', they might react on it. We can't blame them. It is because of the pain they went through in name of 'peace'.

Let us come back to our earlier concerned why we are so wild? Why our hands reached before our mind in any conflict, while it is said and proof that brain is the fastest and strongest part of human body? Is it because of the situation we are living-> the society that threaten our lives every second, the fear of losing our dear one in any jiffy. In simple term, is it all because we are oppressed from the basic right of being born-RIGHT TO LIVE? We are emotionally, physically and mentally so tortured that we try to release our anger, aggressiveness, emotion in form of violence? It seems to give, a kind of relieved.

Our children learned by observing us. It can be language, the value of family, culture and so on. We are born as free and innocent, it is our society that taught us to be either selfish, honest, violence and so on. So, is not our duty to teach them the right thing? Is not time to teach them that don't fight before making friends instead talked? If you fight then you might hurt him but you also will get hurt. You have a brain that does the work of thinking and analyzing, and you are gifted with the most amazing feature that allowed us to communicate and expressed what we feel. So it's better to use our strength than misused our stupidity.

You might say this can be done in small scale, why do we need to introduce in formal education? I too will definitely think in that way if I were in your place. But let's give a serious thought here-> why driving test is made compulsory before driving? It doesn't mean that only those people who has driving license can drive. Many people who has no driving license also can drive.

Then why do we opt only those driver with license? Because, they are well equipped with skill and experience. All of us know what war/conflict is or what is peace. But few are with the skill to apply on actual context. So let's take advance and steal their knowledge for our future generation. Let our children know that if there is a problem, there is a solution too. They don't need to be violence because it was never and will be a solution to any problem.

Plus, the mind of children is so fragile that they will grow up believing what is taught to them in school by their teachers. As I narrated an incident in an earlier article that once I corrected my niece who was 6 years old on her writing but she totally disagreed with me. She stick to her writing only because her Miss told her so. That is why we need to train teachers too.

The best part is we are not robot, we have the thinking power. It's very sad that we random used it to keep peace. We are so much used to violence that we see it as an only medium to end our problem. The truth is it only destroys the relationship between two persons, communities, states or countries.

Peace foot ball

Whenever there is any news of conflict/war in news, we eagerly enjoyed reading the number of death. It really amazed me. I also think like you people "what can I do? It's all because of this politics".

The only thing I did was sipping a cup of tea, holding the newspaper in my hand and reading the number of death. Knock! Knock! We are wrong here. Let me give you an example, during the seminar, the facilitators gave us 'ten minute' to discuss how to solve the ethnic problem in Manipur. Mind you, it was just ten minute. We came up with this idea o A friendly football match will be organized. Here the groups will be form like this –there will be 13 players. It will be all mixed of different ethnic groups. Two women will be among them-> as they are in the game, they will be forced to talk to each other. They have to work as a team.

o The first scored has to be done by the woman-> we include women so that men can realized the role played by women in life

o No one can keep the ball more than five minute-> it will give them the idea that human beings are social animal. No one can live in isolation. If we have to survive/win, we need to share and stand for each other.

o There will be no referee-> we don't like following DO's and DON'T's made by others. Here they are the rule creators which they will follow. This will give them the feelings of liberty.

o There will be bonus point for fair play-> the play is only a medium to bring them together. The real motive of the game is to let them realized the need for each other, the love towards each other. The most important, no one is born as our enemy, we made them our enemy and it is we who has to make them friend again.

o Voluntarily acceptance of fault-> the hardest part in our life is accepting our own fault. We always blamed on other, either it is our fault or not. It is a way of practicing how to accept when we are wrong. It is a message of saying 'it's okay', when we make mistake, we can still make it up.

You might find it funny or ridiculous on what we said above. My point is, we did this within that particular 'ten minute'. Just think what if we are given more time and more experience? The problem is we tend not to think.

We can't change what had happened in past, nor we can convinced our parents that their proverb "tinnadringei yeinou" is wrong. But, we still have enough time for our children who will be our future pillar.

* Louriyam Bebica contributes to regularly
The writer is a PhD Student, Tezpur University, Assam and can be contacted at louriyambebica(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on November 13, 2014.

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