“Stop Living for Today. It will be only Once. Think for tomorrow”, MLA Alfred Kanngam on International Day of Older Persons

My father is 95 years now. He is blessed with 5 grandchildren in a year. He is fit and fine mentally and physically but doesn't want to stay in a separate house. But now wants to be with them and seeing them every day. The grandchildren are his light, honour and happiness. To make any hard decision I always ask my father and seek his advice and prayer before I travel.

The ‘International Day of Older Persons 2021, was observed with the theme ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’ at Hamleikhong Community Hall on October 1. It was organised by the Tangkhul Kharar Long (TKL), District Social Welfare Office (DSO) & Service For Elders (SFE) to address the special needs of the elderly people and educate them on the importance to participate in the digital world, stay connected and live happily.

Yangmi Shimrah, project officer, SFE, leads the program with a silent prayer for a minute in remembrance of the deceased members and invocation led by H. Ato, Chairman, Kharar Long. The motto of the TKL is “Aging Gracefully & Purposefully” taken from Psalms 78:4.

“Aging gracefully and purposefully is indeed beautiful but have you taught your children and grandchildren well to have a proper understanding of our living God? Let’s not hide the greatness of God but proclaim the wonders of Almighty God without any shame to them and continue to live with faith, said Dr Nelson Vashum, Director, CHSRC/CIAMs-BMA/ Advisor, TKL.

“UN’s theme, ‘Digital Equity for All Ages’ focuses on all ages without discrimination be it young or old. It promotes staying connected and maintain relationships by utilising various digital equipment mainly telephone. It bridges the gap even if we are unable to step outside often. Let’s learn to use the basic mobile at least and call for your needs to any church, pastor, or society to help you. Feel free to express your feelings, concern, difficulties to your children anytime. If you stay isolated and feel lonely it can lead to depression and can kill you slowly to live a poor quality life. Loneliness is the greatest enemy during old age. We are in a lucky generation where we can stay connected. Let’s not forget our creator. Invest your time in reading Bible and meditate on the word of God to forget loneliness. Let’s not die without instilling our children the spiritual laws of God and His goodness. Let the coming generation know Jesus Christ as our saviour through our lives. Then the purpose of our life becomes meaningful,” concluded Dr Nelson.

Tangkhul Naga folk song titled ‘Tangkhul Kharar Long’ was presented by the CS Felix group with great enthusiasm.

Alfred Kanngam Arthur, MLA, 44/AC was the chief guest and shared his experience and insight on how God turned a rage like him and changed him drastically without any fear which he thinks, is from God. He expressed his concern for the community, the values of the elders, and the responsibility of the youth.

Speaking at the occasion, Alfred said, “God is very good for the Tangkhul. Indeed, very good for me. Though I was born in a happy family, meeting all my needs, I lived a worldly life but He toke me out from the pit and shaped a wasted person like me to be the representative of the people.”

He continued on saying, “Today’s generation problem in our community is the disobedience of the youngster. They don’t want to take the advice of the elders as they think they are wiser and more educated. Yes, the youngster are now 90% far more ahead in many ways but our lives are like fingers. We have ten fingers but if we don’t have our thumb finger, it is very difficult to write. If 90% is our knowledge and 10% is the fear of God and knowing Him, without that 10%, all that 90% becomes a waste. To know God comes through experience and inspiration from within to discern things that are wrong and right, to speak and to implement. Today, Tangkhul is suffering from this burden. I, as a youngster, is in pain at the thought of this. You may feel the same as our mother, father and elders. My father is 95 years now. He is blessed with 5 grandchildren in a year. He is fit and fine mentally and physically but doesn’t want to stay in a separate house. But now wants to be with them and seeing them every day. The grandchildren are his light, honour and happiness. To make any hard decision I always ask my father and seek his advice and prayer before I travel. Likewise, the importance of elders goes the same for all of us. If we don’t value and practice it, then the root cause of society dies there. Our ancestors live a dignified life even though they practiced headhunting. They abide by the customary law and never do things that are not supposed to be but maintain their sacredness. It is our ancestors, aunty and uncle that lead the way in strengthening customary law and not the youngsters. According to my observation, God has left us long back. We are far away from Him. Brothers are fighting each other, division of Churches, disharmony of the community which are not supposed to be in a true Christian livelihood. What has gone wrong with us? Elders are responsible for all this chaos in our society. It is my earnest appeal to the Tangkhul Kharar Long executive and advisor to have an interactive talk with the Tangkhul Katamnao Long (TKS) and Mayar Ngala Long (TML) to empower and reach out from the village level and revive the dying culture in our society by instilling the sense of respect for parents and elders and rectify the flaws of our society.”

Alfred Kanngam Arthur furthermore said, “The lawmakers know that our community is a selfish people. We give them scope to buy our rights by accepting the temporary benefits as we think more for our family, relative, worker, and chowkidar which is a sellout of our rights. I pity your (elders) generation for you are living in the future, facing the impact of the sold-out of rights by twenty or thirty people. But I pity more for the younger generation as the future becomes the present, we live in the future, the present becomes the past. Once the cycle starts, it keeps repeating and is hard to rectify. The rulers of the nation or those who are in power identifies whom to catch hold of and weave their plan properly to fulfil their aim. It’s my desire for elders to initiate and have a constructive talk with the TKL, TMNL, youths, and intellectuals. Youngsters, stop living for today. It will be only once. Think for tomorrow and sacrifice your living for five to ten years to revamp and built our society. If not there is no future. Even Th Muivah must be worrying about the future of our land as he has been defending our rights.

In his concluding remark, Alfred said, “Once the system is sold out, it is dead. Let there be no bias and division between east, west, north and south. The wrong may appear attractive but our rights are always right as right is divine born from within. We know how to start but ends, tend to be bad. Therefore, to live a happy, graceful, honourable life, digital age, satellite, TV is not the root, but it is always the love that we have for our children and grandchildren to secure their future.”

Rev. Zaklei Kaping, Pastor, Phuungyo Baptist Church praised God for the precious lives of the elders. He testified how he become an instrument of God which was not acceptable in eyes of people. But God has a different purpose. He enlightened the audience with a biblical verse from proverbs 16:13 “Grey hair is a crown of splendour. It is attained in the way of righteousness.” He pointed out the decaying culture of respect and its impact on the society by the younger generation to the elders. He encourages us to have love and respect for elders, to know our roots and abide by the age-old values and culture of the Tangkhul ancestors. For it is the will of God.

“Elders know much more about our custom and tradition because of their rich experience. Help us and guide us with truth, rebuke us, we need your advice. Let’s love one another and forgive each other. Bless us and pray for us to live according to His purpose ” said Pastor Zaklei. He showered his blessings for the elders and leaders with a prayer and concluded his speech.

The program concluded gracefully with a vote of thanks from Felix Chahongnao, Chairman TKL and benediction by Wungpam Kasar, Secretary, TKL. Towels and thousand rupees each was distributed to all the attendees as a token of love to all the members. Cash of rupees two lakhs was given by Alfred Kangam to strengthen TKL.

“Eventhough the members present are lesser comparing to the previous year due to pandemic, today’s program went smoothly from organizing to celebration. The oldest attendee is 94 years. He came fit and fine without a staff. I am very happy today,” said one of the TKL members.

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