The Shining Star and the Dawning of 2013 – Dr. P. S. Lorin

Educational institutions in Nagaland have now closed for the winter holidays and our students from different parts of Nagaland have all returned back home to their families to celebrate the festive season. Christmas and New Year are however, more than just fun and frolic. They can also be about how we can make a difference as agents of positive change. The Tetso College Community wishes all a  Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2013!

The Shining Star and the Dawning of 2013

I wonder how each of us is planning to spend Christmas and the New Year. I see stars shining on hill tops, rooftops of houses, Churches, retail stores, almost everywhere. Many will agree with me that Christmas and New Year are the two most popular holidays of the year. Celebrations of the two are therefore more extravagant all over the world, not only among Christians but everyone, irrespective of religion. So how do we celebrate these special occasions? While I am not one to point fingers at the way individuals celebrate such occasions, I believe this is a significant time to not only celebrate but also think about how we have been celebrating the two.
No doubt we all have our own individual preferences about how we celebrate. What’s important though is that we celebrate, without crossing the limit. Nagas have been termed one of the ‘friendliest’ groups of people from the time of our forefathers. I do not disagree with that. We are friendly, hospitable and entertain our guests very well. And I hear we love to party too. It’s great that we know how to be happy, but only so long as we know what we’re doing and our limits too. 
At this time of the year especially, let’s not forget why we’re celebrating Christmas or continue to celebrate it the whole year round on different pretexts. There is a time for everything and realistically we need to know how to balance our lives.
We all know that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. For Christians the conspicuous announcement was made in the book of Isaiah 9:6 which says “For unto us a Child is born…His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. Another significant announcement was made by the Angel Gabriel that Mary the betrothed wife of Joseph will conceive and bring forth a son named Jesus  (Luke 1:26-33). The birth of Christ in Bethlehem was witnessed, and the shining star led the wise men of the East to the baby. The Bible is written testimony that serves as a reminder for those of us who forget who we are, how and where we came from.  
Ultimately, the believers are assured of salvation through Jesus Christ. Christians are thus expected to observe Christmas in a significant way. I think the point is not merely to attend church services, wear good outfits and new dresses, exchange gifts, or throw lavish parties, but, are we ready to celebrate Christmas with a difference? And by difference I mean, do we truly acknowledge the begotten son, the greatest gift of God to strengthen our love and friendship through forgiveness and reconciliation? Christmas is a time of forgiving one another, reconciliation amongst family and friends and efforts to try to make our wrongs right and most important of all to spread the spirit of love and happiness.
It is also during this time that we tend to reflect on the passing year. We start thinking about the year’s activities – our successes and failures. These are the things that make the passing year memorable. It is a great time to reflect and reassess what we have done and what more we can do.
With New Year just a week after Christmas, it is a double celebration for us Christians. For us, New Year is somehow closely associated with Christmas and considered a part and parcel of Jesus’ birth. Christmas decorations are normally removed only after 1st January.  However, the essence of New Year celebration is worldwide. Midnight celebrations followed with picnicking and get togethers are most common features of New Year celebrations. 
Each year we hope for a brighter future. Truth be told, the succeeding year will be equally successful and terrible, in the sense that many promises might also go unfulfilled. But that does not mean we give up. Recollecting the New Year column in the local paper on 2012 New Year resolutions, I wonder if the published commitments have been fulfilled. One person said “I will quit smoking, not for me but for my family”.  I hope this individual has not failed. 
Now with just a few weeks left to welcome the New Year, let us welcome it with a positive difference. We are the agents of change and we will be responsible for negative or positive outcomes. Come 2013, our State with its unique political history and culture, requires a positive and stronger, united outlook. We can either emerge stronger in solidarity amongst tribes, organizations and groups or weaker divided into groups and tribes. 2013 is going to be a milestone year for us with lots of important decisions to be taken about the future of our Nagas and Nagaland. We need to prepare ourselves for the outcome.
As I see it, Nagas are excellent critiques. We waste no time in critiquing the conduct of festivals, functions, decisions and policies, which is a good thing if we want to continue improving and learning. But there is also a major difference between positive critique and destructive criticism. While it is important to be critical, we also need to believe in being positive.
Traits such as negativity and positivity are influential emotions that are contagious in a society. Like a virus they rapidly spread from person to person and later to larger masses. This is why, positivity needs to grow from the public upwards and prevail amongst our leaders even. Negativity breeds discontent, misunderstanding, wrong assumptions and opposition. I believe nothing works as well as positivity and constructive criticism, and if we want a stronger, better society, we can only succeed if we usher in a wave of positivism. It is my hope that we will welcome 2013 as agents of positive change.
“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. Tetso College is a Commerce and Arts College. For feedback or comments please email:”

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