By Niketu Iralu
Socrates’ famous observation “A life not examined is not worth living” should receive our fullest responsible attention today as we look to the future.We cannot afford to treat this truth lightly because it explains what is happening to us and our struggle also. Our failure or refusal to examine our thinking and our lives has damaged the process of the Naga struggle.We should not be surprised the outcome has become so bankrupt and unmanageably destructive.
It is very right and proper that the memorial monolith has been raised.But as we sit here to give thanks we are or should be the first ones to acknowledge the pain in our hearts for the controversy that has occurred over some differences in which we have hurt others and others have hurt us. I believe we should not be surprised by what has happened because our society is involved in a baffling, complicated, extremely demanding process of responding to changes taking place in which we are all making mistakes most easily.
I am conscious some may disagree with this reference to the mistakes and unhappiness mentioned. But I am taking the risk because of a sense of real need for our society now to drastically lessen conflicts and clashes of immediate agendas by a readiness in all of us to put ourselves in one another’s shoes which makes mutual understanding and forgiving possible. I am trusting that it will be understood in the spirit in which it is being made. In God’s plan our mistakes may be His main weapon Satan dreads! Our acceptance of our mistakes changes us and gives hope to others they too can do it!
Here, allow me to repeat the famous advice American philosopher and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr once made for resolving conflicts: “It is always wise to seek the truth in our opponent’s error, and the error in our own truth”.This has been discussed already in an earlier occasion of the celebration. We will all agree this willingness and greatness of heart and wisdom is needed by us a young emerging society trying to navigate our struggle to go forward in the modern world. Remember Jesus said virtually the same thing to those who had brought to him the woman taken in adultery: “Let him, who is without sin, cast the first stone.” So often we too are wrong somewhere some place.
This Thanksgiving for the past symbolised by the erection of the impressive commemorative monolith should focus our attention on the challenges ahead. This requires us to look beyond this stone to understand the nature and size of the crisis threatening to overwhelm us so that we will learn to respond to it as correctly and as adequately as possible. This is the most difficult thing to do but the only way to grow properly. This is our urgent need.
To those who tried to narrow Him down to their comfortable perspectives, Jesus said they knew how to forecast stormy or fair weather by looking at the changing colours in the sky, but that was not enough to meet the needs of their day.Firmly upbraiding and challenging them he added,“You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”(Matthew 16). To me this is one of the most fascinating things Jesus taught because his mission was to build the kingdom of God on earth as it must be in heaven-the just, creative, socio-economically-environmentally sustainable society the world needs, in today’s language.
Over the last 100 years we have definitely become a people and a nation because of our choice and the price we have paid for the struggle for the aspiration. What I believe we can and must make clear to the younger generation is that Nagas must now learn to examine themselves and all aspects of their struggle responsibly and truthfully, to make sure we do not weaken ourselves further by ill will towards one another which kills cooperation and compassion for one another.No society has grown properly without these positive human qualities being alive in the hearts and minds of its people.
If we the older generation will care and dare enough to start to end the compromises and what is wrong and unacceptable that have rendered our society stagnant and paralysed, the younger generation are more likely to heed our concern and call to them. A common understanding of need and readiness to accept the changes demanded by our crisis will enable us to inspire one another to do the right best things together instead of repeatedly getting bogged down on mutual blaming which is suicidal.
We cannot deny that our lives “overground” and “underground”have produced the politics, economy, even Christianity and culture that we have today.Has not our society degraded so much because we stubbornly pull the high standards required in all fields of human development down to our selfish personal, tribal, party, factional levels and pray to God to bless what we want, not what He requires? The result is we are divided, dissatisfied, and even neurotic because the society that has come out of our lives is destroying us instead of growing properly.
I should end here on what we will all surely agree is the common enemy of all Nagas, indeed of the human race, and what we just have to do to it. All who want to help heal and restore our seriously fragmented society to enable it to grow will understand.
SELFISHNESS in all its manifestations is the common enemy of the “Overground” and all “Underground” governments, and all NGOs, Unions, Associations, Federations, and of all Nagas.
We know what selfishness and corruption tolerated in ourselves and severely condemned in others has done to the Nagaland State Government, and the other Naga inhabited States, as well as to all the factional governments. We should not be under any doubt now what this enemy will do to the society and Government the NSCN (IM) and/or the NPGs will bring, full or shared sovereignty, if we will decide nothing can be done so, God please understand and forgive us, “Business as usual.” The question is,is this God’s plan for us?
If it is not, then the battle becomes practical, bracing, do-able and adventurous right away if each one of us can decide to reduce our selfish ways in stages! Suppose in the way we tend to do things on massive scales and measures we decide to reduce selfishness 5 % each year and refuse to stop the spiritual warfare, do we think God will just watch, do nothing to help us and see us surrender to Satan in despair? Imagine the earthquake that will hit the Naga homeland! And many may decide to increase the percentage mentioned.
I should without any sense of false modesty say that I know something about selfishness. When many years ago soon after entering University I made the experiment of asking God if He had anything to say to me, I couldn’t deny the thought that kept coming through to me was “You are a very selfish man…” I began to see my fears, resentments, jealousies, and so on, were all being sustained by selfishness so that love was kept out of my life. The warfare I decided to wage in faith against this enemy made Christ and His ways, His truth and His life real to me. It meant issuing a Quit Notice to the enemy, so to speak, and never revoking it!
[This is an abridged version of the author’s speech on the Naga Club Thanksgiving, Base Camp, Puliebadze, Jotsoma on December 15, 2018]