Psy Performing his Gangnam Style from his hit Music Video
In case you missed the news, the world didn’t end on 21st December 2012, as some people thought the Mayan calendar predicted. However, for some people, the world did end on that day. The world as they knew it changed when they lost their loved ones and friends to accidents, sickness or began new lives as they retired from office, got married or even became proud parents. Life-changing events, both positive and negative, come and go. Life is like a cycle.
Nagaland and the “Gangnam Style” Cycle
Looking at my calendar on 1st January 2013 I thought about the limitless possibilities that 12 whole months gave me. I would change and start over with a clean slate, lose my bad habits, make my parents and family proud, work hard to be successful and exercise till I got those six pack abs I’ve wanted since I was in class 6… then I started feeling drowsy again and went back to sleep… zzz…
Broken New Year resolutions seem to go hand in hand with the beginning of the year – just like the failed promises for a solution to the Naga issue before Christmas, as was once widely proclaimed, or the mythical smooth roads and regular electricity guaranteed before every election. As bleak as things sometimes appear, it is not just Nagaland with problems. When we look beyond Nagaland, we see violence in Imphal, the coronation of Delhi as the rape capital and worse things happening in the Syrian civil war and elsewhere. Holding on to a resolution is not easy. Achieving success in life also not easy. If we want, we can always find a reason to fail, someone to blame and a situation that is not conducive for success. Many times, those reasons are valid. But who would imagine a globally obscure Korean pop star’s music video making fun of the rich kids of Gangnam District in Seoul, Korea would have the most popular youtube video racking over a billion views (1,140,421,375 as of writing this article)? By now, many are probably sick of the song, (or listening to it and pretending to be cool), but his weird combination of dance moves and beats actually made him a world-wide sensation. How does something like that happen? Interestingly, our Gangnam singer himself never expected the video to become so popular and heard by billions of people who don’t even know Korean… but it happened thanks to the internet and technology. Makes me wonder if one day a Naga might make a hip-hop video with Naga dance moves and have it hit a billion youtube views. The beauty of the internet is it makes the billion youtube views within the realm of possibility, even for a Naga. My opinion is that if Psy brought out this song before the youtube era, it would probably have faded to oblivion because he was initially rejected by the big record companies (They are now probably kicking themselves for not recognizing his talent earlier). The thing is Psy never gave up and in some ways, his success sort of shows that hard work pays. I have met a lot of people who blame the world, their parents or society for their failures. Statements like, “If I was born in the city or in the USA, I would be a rockstar,” or “successful” are quite common. In reality, success is much harder than being simply born in the right place and time. Sadly, there are millions of kids born in the USA who don’t become Bill Gates or the next Billboard hip-hop star. That being said, it’s great to see many of our talented Nagas like Alobo Naga, Divine Connection, Alo Wanth and many more becoming household names in the very difficult music scene.
However, no matter how popular Psy becomes, he is not irreplaceable. Someone somewhere will come up with a catchier beat, with a weirder video and make the world go wild again. Big shot one day, zero shot the next. Life is a cycle. We could be the most important person in the church, the most powerful political party, tribe, village or clan but time eventually levels all. History is replete with examples of time being a leveller. Look at the Mayan Civilization who dominated their world with highly complex customs and science, but then suddenly disappeared without any known reason. Genghis Khan, the mighty Mongol Emperor’s empire eventually collapsed and his tomb has never been found. When we look in the mirror we should recognize ourselves for what we all are – human beings, here for a temporary period of time with status that will come and go, whether our egos like it or not.
The world eventually moves on, we will see other Gangnam Style videos, Steve Jobs, and maybe even a Gandhi somewhere around the world. Each impact has an instrumental effect, depending on how we choose to orchestrate it. We might even face a lot of uncertainty and violence with people stepping on each other to get ahead, either for prestige or greed. Many a times minor changes to cultural and traditional practices bring outrage and vociferous opposition like the closing down of check gates, removal of prohibition, reservation of seats for women in municipal societies for example. A society is only as advanced as its thinking, and a society which does not grow together will eventually fight each other.
According to former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice on the Syrian civil war, “When a civil war goes on for a long time, it empowers the worst elements, and so what was once an opposition that was dominated by more tolerant and, more liberal forces now has an element of Al Qaeda, a very radical Sunni force.” She means as violence continues, the more violent and intolerant people force the sensible thinkers out and proceed to use more and more violent tactics to achieve their ends, thereby eventually hurting civilians and creating a society where the common man suffers. Will our 60 year national movement head down a road similar to the Syrians?
With regards to our society’s fears on prohibition and women’s reservation etc, the doomsayers and the purists are probably both wrong. Society will not collapse if women are allowed reservation or a Naga solution is found, nor will heaven come to Nagaland if prohibition is lifted or vice versa. But of course that does not mean we ever stop trying for anything at all. The truth probably lies somewhere around the middle. There will always be positives along with negatives, which we must continuously circumvent. It is good to worry about the fearful consequences of decisions. Nevertheless, we should keep in mind that there is worry that is fact-based and there is worry that is ignorance based. Those with the facts must make the ignorant aware and those who worry because of the facts sometimes need to have faith.
Things need to be viewed from their proper perspective. We can’t assume to know everything and be correct all of the time, nor is a person wrong all the time. What we should do is listen to our moral compass and cut out the blatant hypocrisy in our lives. Call a spade, a spade. Only when we are truthful to ourselves and can think beyond the individual, then can we progress as a society and then maybe we can call 2013 as a year of solutions to the many problems that affect our society.