Thou shalt Love thy Amur Falcon as thy Hornbill
Rümatho Nyusou, SBS, Zubza
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]agas love visitors. The love of Nagas for their visitors is a tradition unequaled by many other communities. In the Bible, we come upon a parallel ancient story of a man who supposedly went overboard to secure the safety of his visitors from the extraterrestrial world. To the unruly mob who demanded Lot to hand over his visitors to them so they might sodomize them, this is what Lot said, “I have two daughters who are virgins; let me, I beg you, bring them out to you, and you can do as you please with them. But only do nothing to these men.” Contrary to the conventional reading, I am tempted to ask whether the love of Lot for his visitors is a lopsided love gone too far ― loving neighbors at the cost of one’s own household.
This is not to suggest that we should not love our neighbors. As a matter of fact, our attitude and behavior towards strangers reflect the true color of our character. Nagas love visitors and so it is our common cultural trait to invite them to our homes and share sweet pleasantries over a meal or drink. We not only love their physical presence; we also value their ideas. This practice is associated with the belief that visitors bring along with them blessings.In the past couple of years the avian visitors, going by the name Amur Falcon, from one end of the world entered our sky and in no time enamored the diehard hunters of the state. They also captured the limelight from other avian sorority of the state and have overshadowed the splendor of our own local iconic birds such as Tragopan and Hornbill. Except for the initial adjustment hiccups suffered by the newcomers, Nagaland is now a safe haven for them. By any means, the success story of our tryst with Amur Falcon should be welcomed as a shot in the arm by everybody.
The credit for this accomplishment goes to the concerted effort of the international, national, and local communities. As you all will agree, the extent of publicity and awareness inseminated by various organizations at all levels on the concept of protection and preservation is simply unprecedented. This unexpected turn of event is a watershed in the history of the Nagas in our endeavor to preserve and promote wildlife.
If this is what we can do to our visitors, there is much more that we can and we ought to do to our own birds and animals in Nagaland. The big issue is how honest and sincere we are. Do we truly love our habitat and ourselves? If so, where have all the birds of our land gone? Where are our animals today? We need to probe our hearts in introspection and see how genuine our love for Amur is. Is it simply media hype and cheap publicity that we are after, in which case it is a publicity of duplicity, or are we now born-again wardens of wildlife? I am not trying to be cynical, but it is worth asking how long the glitz and glamour of our affair with Amur Falcon will last. Once the awards stop coming, attention and support of the outside communities wane, will our commitment endure? The answer is obvious.
We don’t have to wait for people from other parts of the world to tell us that we should take care of our flora and fauna. The time has come for us to trust ourselves and in our own human resources. We must come to term with the reality of our harmful killer-instinct and reorient our mindset to the most fundamental reality about the exigency of mutual coexistence of all created beings. We need to acknowledge that the basis on which our love for our neighbors stands is “love your neighbor, as yourself.” This scriptural teaching is the foundation on which our relationship with fellow human beings and nature operates.
Beating all odds to be stakeholders in the preservation of the intercontinental bird is, no doubt, a noble venture in the right direction that we should encourage, but turning a blind eye to our local birds and animals which are on the brink of extinction is a brazen example of our dishonesty. The future generation will not forgive us of our hypocrisy.
Visitors will come and go so we ought to be hospitable to them, but our own family will remain with us so we ought to be thoughtful about them. First and foremost, let us learn to love our own then and then only can we begin to love others with the same measure of love. Love of self, as distinct from narcissistic tendency, is the code with which the DNA of all relationship is encoded. Nobody can rewrite this equation. Charity begins at home is a wisdom that still stands.