There are many ethnic groups spread all over the world. For a long time they remained isolated from the mainstream. They were untouched by the wave of fast changing modern civilization and hence, continued to stay backward in the time scale of development. They didn’t feel the need too. They were self sufficient, needs were few – foods they produced or procured from the forest and clothing woven by the females. Mingling with the bigger world was not required. Whatever they needed they had. They had their own culture and belief system; dialect, songs, dances, festivals and rituals. In every way they were happy and content.
With the passage of time everything has changed. To remain isolated is no longer possible. Interaction with the wider world became a priority. The earlier mode of living is threatened. A conflict is born: to adapt to the new order or to fall back to the bygone days. It’s a persistent dilemma reflected in every ethnic group or tribe – may be North American natives, Amazon indigenous people, Australian aboriginals and Asian and African tribes, big or small. It’s the common litany of every tribe.
The fact is that it has to happen and will happen with the changing world. Inability to adjust to the change causes the undue hardship. Here is the wailing of a Naga girl who wrote a book about her tribe undergoing turmoil due to rapid changes in the behavior and culture brought by Christianity. Here is the excerpt.
“Of course, it brought us education -- and I wouldn't have written this book if I didn't get a modern education, but in Nagaland the conversion to Christianity and the exposure to modernity has been very rapid. It just happened suddenly. We've gone from headhunting to iPad in the span of a few (decades)."
"I think there should be a balance. We cannot remain isolated; we have to adapt to changing times. But if we lose our identity, then what's the purpose?"
Think about the last line – the requiem of every tribe. The call of the time is development, which means moving from one stage to another. It’s growth from childhood to adulthood. The society grows from primitive to modern. The modern itself is not stagnant – evolving every moment. The old identity acquires a new form incessantly. If the gap is minute change is not perceptible and there is no problem. For a wider gap, the sudden jump forward brings more pain. This will happen to all the tribes that remained backward in the timeline of progress. It’s inescapable. There is no option but to conform to it. And that’s the only desirable alternative.
For a Naga girl authoring a book in English is a giant leap forward. Seemingly it threatens the foundation of stability because the shock is seismic as the gap between the old and modern is huge. Old identity gives way to newer identity and should be welcomed. That’s the sole purpose of evolution of human civilization and it’s unavoidable.