We are making (bad) time a scapegoat

Rehoboam Lester Makang *

Our lives today are virtually threatened and besieged by all sorts of crimes or morally bad/wrong deeds committed by every Tom, Dick or Harry just about everywhere. Cases of killing, theft, rape, immorality and many such crimes of demented mind seem to be overtaking most of the good things around us. But I doubt if we as a society do not encourage the very social malaise in any way.

For it often-times sickens me like a red rag to a bull when I hear people say things like, "Oh! What a bad time we live in now-a-days," when certain crimes occur or "Don't go out it's dark already, times aren't good any longer" to caution someone against any danger/trouble.

While it goes without saying that times have changed since our grandparents' days of simple living and thinking, it is still irrelevant or doesn't make any sense to keep on whining "BAD TIMES," "BAD TIMES." After all, it is neither the era of time nor its pace that is actually becoming bad or cruel.

Time or era does not bring in any of our contemporary social problems; it is just indifferent and merely associated with anything good or bad occurring in a given period. It is the shameful actions of mankind that are accountable for all the present day crimes occurring day in, day out right before our naked eyes.

Ironically, and unfortunately, we tend to blame the time we live in for almost all the bad things done by people with depraved mindset. Take, for instance, a case of burglary that happens in the neighbourhood. Since people, for the most part, have no clues to identity of the perpetrators who actually break into the house, they would most likely heap a good part of the blame on the present era they are living in, and say "times are terrible and so are people… and that it is not hard for anyone to steal goods from others'." The fact is that housebreaking does not occur because time favours the crime but because it is deliberately committed by people like you and me.

There is an amusing story of Satan grumbling about mankind misdemeanours, popularly attributed to Tangkhul stand-up comedian Mr. Pakmi. The story goes something like this ...

A man is going walking along the road at Finch Corner in Ukhrul when he suddenly hears a piercing shriek. He looks around to see what the noise is all about. At some distance at the road corner, he notices a little boy crying indignantly so he walks up to the little one and asks, "Why are you crying all alone here, boy?" The boy turns out to be a little Satan and the little Devil grumbles back, "Mankind does all kinds of mischief to fit his selfish scheme of things and he keeps blaming us Devil for the mess. I am so upset."

Well, let us leave aside the validity of the story, for once, and try to take note, lest we fail to notice that it is deftly spun in such a way to remind us of the fact that we humans have, consciously or unconsciously, mastered the art of playing blame games with anyone/anything we can lay hands on in the face of any trouble that is created by our own doings. And also such that we could see through the notoriety that we mankind have earned ourselves for faring too well in every known despicable thing.

Figuratively speaking, the story also underscores how the fine line between the work of the old Devil and handiwork of new breed of human beings is fast vanishing or getting smudgy.

Not long ago, I overheard a conversation between a group of elders who were talking about increasing cases of extra marital affairs or eloping with someone's spouse and increased rate of divorces in the present-day societies. One of them jokingly remarked, "Never mind, time brings all these things and they come with time." While the remark sounds witty wordplay and the intended meaning nebulous and personal, it seems to share a general tendency to attribute any unwanted situation to time influences.

Many will agree that these behavioral deviations are the signs of change that have swept in the way the institution of marriage functions within some sections of contemporary societies over the years. However, in deeper introspection, the scenario, rather than anything else, is simply either an act of infidelity or a reflection of incompatibility or lack of decisiveness on the part of concerned individuals.

By the same token, mankind and his actions are responsible for all other prevailing crimes, of all magnitudes, and crimes do not happen by chance. Be it killing of someone for petty selfish ends, outraging modesty of a hapless woman or illegally trading vulnerable women and children (human trafficking) – these are all motivated by human's infinite greed to fulfill/satisfy one desire or another.

Maybe in certain cases, timing or circumstances give people half a chance to commit a crime. The wee small hours or the time when people are fast asleep, for example, are susceptible to a host of social crimes. An isolated house is prone to burglary while most cases of molestation or crimes against women are reported to have occurred on deserted streets at unearthly hours.

Similarly, a corrupt system is a breeding ground for unscrupulous politicians, bureaucrats etc. to indulge in illegal practices and the list goes on. But then for all these, one thing is for sure. If we humans do not conspire to do evil things or instigate/whip up problems/troubles to our fellow beings, no one could have ever committed any known crimes, however opportune or favourable the time and circumstances might be.

The underlying argument in this piece, however, is not one of possibility of checking humans'; wicked dealings or excesses by way of constraint which is absurd in its truest sense. But the point that I would rather like to drive home here is each one of us is accountable for our own doings whether good or bad and no thing else is to be blamed.

And thus our propensity to implicate time and its influences as we often do, in most cases of present day crimes committed by humans is simply killing us all. And each time we utter things like, "It';s bad time we are living in," or "Bad times are hurting us" making the times imbued with the curse of human mischief, it seems to give fresh impetus for committing more rapes, more thefts, more infidelities, more corruption, more killings etc. etc.

We know that only a miracle could help us beat the menace of myriad crimes and atrocities that each one of us faces at one point or other in our daily existence. Still we must not lose sight of the fact that we oftentimes fail to admit the truth when we curse or feel bad about the times of our lives. In the process, we end up making ';time'; a scapegoat for human mischief. It is time that we as society learn to think twice before blaming bad occurences on time so that we do not lie to ourselves. At least, I suppose.

* Rehoboam Lester Makang wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on July 22, 2014.

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