The urgent reason for this Consultative Meeting is “the Naga people crying out for peace and political solution”, as stated in the invitation letter. I believe the initiative taken by the Chief Minister Mr. Neiphiu Rio and his Cabinet Colleagues is wise and timely because the uncertainties in the hearts and minds of our people and in all of us gathered here call for such leadership.
There is no disagreement over our desperate need for an early solution and a settlement is said to be coming any day now. We are also learning that the efforts to bring the different groups together are showing promising results.
But the reality is that the coming settlement will be again a case of the same history repeating itself because of the facts of the Naga struggle and India’s inability to respond to those facts as Nagas believe India should.
Putting it simply and crudely, the Nagas struggle is about to give birth to another political baby. The harsh truth is that all Nagas across the entire Naga homeland, U.Gs and O.Gs, NSCN (IM), NNPGs, all parties and all Nagas are deeply unhappy because what is going to happen again is beyond our control.
We do not know what to do with the coming baby and what it will do to us because of our experiences with the births of the previous babies of the Naga struggle.
We must honestly acknowledge that the coming solution – the new political baby – is going to be the product of many wrongs we have done to one another which has damaged the process of the Naga struggle. It will be the outcome of a badly damaged process and we are unwilling to admit that all of us have contributed to the damaging of the process.
The question before all Nagas now is do we make what is already so dangerous more dangerous? What will that do to the generations today and tomorrow?
Now I want to draw our attention to this matter of our anger and our unhappiness. We must not condemn this anger, unhappiness and insecurity because it is coming from the Nagas who are only a small number of people and just emerging as a nation, compelled to respond to India one of the oldest civilizations in history. We are naturally making many mistakes because we are doing things we have never done before. We must show compassion to and understanding of one another’s mistakes.
I have found from my own experience that when I am angry or unhappy it is a sign of God trying to say something to me and the devil trying to stop it. In Genesis Chapter 4 God comes to the son of Adam and Eve and asks, “Cain, why are you angry? Why is your face showing such unhappiness? If you do what you know is right all will be well. But if you do not do what you know is right, then the devil is waiting at your door to devour you, but you must overcome it”.
Isn’t the deep widespread unhappiness and anger of the Naga people today coming from all the wrong things we do to solve our problems disregarding the consequences? Is not this irresponsible attitude the reason our society is increasingly resentful against one another and undevelopable? Each one of us, not just our leaders, must see the connection between our selfishness and our accumulating unsolved problems.
If the coming settlement is not to collapse into violence and chaos, Nagas somehow have to declare selfishness, hate, fear, greed and corruption of all kinds to be our common enemy and start to reject them. If we will not do this the logical outcome will be Killing Fields and massive violence like what happened in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and African countries that have shocked mankind. This happens ultimately because hurts and wrongs not transformed are always transferred, a terrible truth of history.
Reducing what is wrong to be the change you want in your society:
Is there a village, a tribe, an organization that will decide and say:-
“We have decided to reduce our selfishness by 10% this year towards demonstrating our Christianity for the development of Nagaland”.
The next year – 12 %
The year after -15% ……! Think of what that start to trigger for Nagaland!
From my own experience I find that if I make such a commitment and refuse to compromise God comes in and enables me to continue and I start to be the change.
The time has come when the co-called “advanced tribes” should come out and own responsibility for being the major destroyers of the moral and spiritual values of our society. I have never forgotten a Zeliangrong author once telling me “fighters from our tribes also gave the best they could and sacrificed their lives for the Naga cause. But we discovered that we were in the cross-fire of the rival advanced tribes competing for control of the Naga struggle. You must know what that kind of tribalism has done to us.”
Concerned individuals in the advanced tribes should start to take this resentment in the other tribes seriously and start to identify where their tribes have done wrong. I am humbly committed to this search.
Our North East neighbours – at this time when we are trying to do something about the damaged relationships within the Naga family we should also start to reach out to our North East neighbours. We have to create a wider common stability which will enable economic development in the whole region. Such stability will come only from real changes in our thinking and behavior starting at the personal level. Without stability economic development will be fruitless slogans only. With it – we will be surprised by what will happen.
The following are points made by the author during the Consultative Meeting on 15th October, 2020 at the State Banquet Hall, Chief Minister’s Residential Complex, Kohima
The writer is a respected Naga elder and statesman, deeply engaged in peace building