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An era when reason and hypersensitivity coexist

                                                          By Fabian Lyngdoh                   

Since the dawn of civilization about 4004 B.C., we had been constantly progressing into the modern age. The society is said to have evolved from primitive religion to more advanced philosophical idealism, then to modern scientific mentalities when science and scientific methods are employed in the management of human affairs. In the ancient societies, some forms of religious cult had always been part and parcel of the political and economic systems. No state in the past was thought to be complete without the incorporation of some form of religious cults because that was necessary to address human ignorance of scientific knowledge. But as scientific knowledge develops, the general wonder to mystery was dispelled and science replaced religion. It is then hoped that science by itself is able to provide mankind with a way of life which is self-consistent and harmonious as well as free for the exercise of that objective reason on which our material progress depends. The modern age is also viewed as the age when the importance of the moral guideline of the super-ego is restricted while the power and freedom of reason enhanced.

But it is also opined that the rapid increase in scientific knowledge and technology and the spread of scientific spirit are in large measure responsible for the strange and multiple chaos of thought in the modern society today. Reason is supposed to ensure successful adjustment of the individuals to habitual cognitive situations and to facilitate our minds to correct our own human errors, and also to develop abilities to cope with situations that cause anxiety. Hence, it is in the application of reason that civilized man is said to owe his evolution from the savages. But it seems that man has rapidly created changes in the natural and social environments to which he has so far not been able to adjust himself with.

The industrial and commercial system of economy again put the individuals in wonder of their statuses and worth in the entire political and economic systems. Individually and alone, each person is in a social gloom and thrown into helplessness in the whirlpool of a powerful system though the human race as a whole seems to be in control collectively. This produced a social pathology which science and technology cannot provide the answer. To deal with such general gloom which is experienced individually, mysticism in the guise of psychological and spiritual healthcare systems revived and entered into the global markets and become superfluous antidote to an exaggerated scientific and rational structuring of the human minds and spirits. These days, anyone who can claim to be a yoga guru or god-man to offer instant peace and solace to the starving spirits can make multi-million dollar business anywhere in the world with little tangible capital investment, provided that he/she is courageous enough to claim that he/she holds the key to solve this social pathology.

Whether such systems really work or not is not our intention to discuss here. It has been said that today politics and business go together. But a new trend also emerged where business and religion go together. But business in the real sense demands hard work, diligent and fair dealings. So it is not business that go together with politics and religion, but it must be theft, robbery and fraud that are legalised in political and religious activities.

The modern period was also accompanied by the rise of humanism as a system of views which extolled man, stressed his essential worth and dignity, and with deep faith in his tremendous creative potential, proclaimed freedom and inalienable rights of the individual. Humanism sought the glorification of the human and the natural as opposed to the spiritual and divine, and advocates man’s right to pleasure and satisfaction of earthly desires and requirements and urges him to seek joy on this earth rather than in an afterlife. Indeed,this era seems to promise prosperity and glamorous success to everyone. This has induced unlimited aspirations in the minds of the youth, which when thwarted by stark reality sometimes proved catastrophic. If everyone shall be a master with numerous slaves and servants, then who shall be slaves and servants? It is an irony of truth, and a gross blasphemy for anyone to say that the merciful God had blessed him/her with numerous slaves and servants. But that is the paradox of the modern world. No wonder that suicide rate is on the rise even in the remote villages!

Modern information technology through the agency of the social media is supposed to create an inter-cultural global society based on general understanding and tolerance. But since a common scientific language has not evolved, each person understands the elements of global communication in the context of his/her own cultural upbringing that on the contrary, a general culture of egoism, hypersensitivity and intolerance seems to have emerged. Selfie facilities have built up an egoistic and selfish mentality.Since fabulous self-worth, fashioned by virtual reality has given people with fragile hearts that are easily offended, the world could be shaken to the roots not by God or by the demons, but by a silly post in the social media. We have indeed become so hypersensitive, emotional and mentally shakened that not only would the youth commit suicide by stinging criticism, insults and ridicules, but a third world war might also be triggered by the provoking tweets of the leaders of some nuclear armed nations even though there is no serious international reason at all.

The Khasi society in the past had the means to deal with individuals’ dignity problem which plagues the modern world today. In the Ri Bhoi region of the Khasi Hills, children were purposely given derogatory names based on physiological defects, such as u/ka dkoh (the lame), thlah (blind), kyllut (deaf), thlun (dumb), khuruh (ricket) etc. They were also given names based on character defects, such as u dih (drunkard), u/ka salia (lethargic), u sarei (clownish), u zlah (deceitful), u lubuit (naked), u dakaid (wicked), etc., to train them to bear with the insults and to thicken their skins with immunity to live a normal life in the face of insults and ridicules. Insults and ridicules are already contained in a person’s name, then what else can the society insult his/her spirit by further ridicules? There are many persons still living perfectly normal lives today in the Ri Bhoi region with such derogatory names, when the enlightened persons of the modern world would, by casual derogatory remarks be hastened to suicide.

     So, I would advise any young man or woman who reads this article to accept that the world is never perfect, and no one is perfectly normal. Society is not heaven but is basically, a chaos operating in order, and maintaining itself on the force of cumulative individual interests. Human society cannot solely rely on democratic freedom which only imposes the responsibility upon others to allow a person to be free, not to restrict one’s thoughts and actions in exercise of his/her democratic rights and to protect him/her from any form of discrimination, oppression and aggression. However, such a freedom would not suffice to transform a person into a free and rational being. It is enlightened freedom that would empower a person to attain rational maturity and self-realisation. No authority on earth can guarantee a person freedom from insults and ridicules, and much less, from his/her own fear, shyness, feeling of inferiority and self-condemnation. Freedom from criticism, insults and ridicules does not imply their absence, but it essentially means the ability to cope with them, the ability to be immune to such human frailties and to transcend above them all. Freedom of the individual in the age of reason does not mean freedom from the condemnation of others but it is freedom from self-condemnation. A perfectly rational man is free from self-condemnation whatever the world may pass judgment on him.

This generation craves too much attention; and if attention is lacking, people become desperate and may resort to questionable behaviour for attention or may even resort to suicide. You have to find peace and refuge firmly in yourself so that you need not seek attention unnecessarily. Insult and ridicule carry no poison in themselves until you allow your own mind and heart to brew the poison into embarrassment, fear, inferiority feeling, self-condemnation, and in extreme cases, into suicide. All feelings of inferiority, shyness, embarrassment, anxiety and fear have no external existence other than in your own mind and heart and brewed by your own self.  So discard them all and don’t ever condemn yourself; you have the full right to live and exist, and to exist honourably, as anyone else. Even if the whole world were engulfed in flame, you should consider yourself one among the few who would escape from destruction and emerge out of the ashes to continue the human race.

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