A Nation in need of Healing

The Naga Nation needs healing. Victims and survivors need healing; perpetrators are in their own way victims of a violent system; and they need healing as well. The need to heal and reconcile emphasizes presence of polarized opinions and it occurs in the backdrop of a history that has witnessed much hurt and suffering. Hence it is essential to place the issue of healing in the dialectical interplay of Reconciliation, Resolution and Reconstruction. These three processes function interdependently of each other and are in essence the embodied aspirations of a healing nation. 

A nation seeking healing must invariably address Reconciliation, Resolution and Reconstruction as interdependent realities that must be pursued simultaneously. It is said that what politics offers at its core is what life offers at its essence – relationship, communication, conflict, discovery and growth. By this one understands that broken relationships which result from differences must at one point or another muster the will to enable a political process that leads to re-communication and re-discovery and growth. In effect, it demands a new way of life, governed by principles of respect and dignity. The outcome depends on the process. 

In times of crisis it is very easy to focus on the outcome without quite realizing that the outcome depends on the process itself. The process therefore is critical in the search for Reconciliation, Resolution and Reconstruction. It is fundamental that the process be open and public. For instance, two structural decisions that contributed towards the legality and legitimacy of the reconciliation process in South Africa were because, the selection of members to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a public and democratic process and because there were no electoral politicians in the commission. The degree of public process relies on people’s participation and ownership. 

A transparent and accountable procedure strengthens the legitimacy and public acceptance of a process and hence any process towards reconciliation has to be transparent and public. It is about the truth and therefore unless the process is open, the truth will not be unveiled. Some may assert that a public and transparent process is open to the possibilities of political manipulation; and it is true that it does happen. The tension between the need for transparency and the need for a safe space is inevitable and inescapable. Therefore the dilemma created by this situation is that while conducting the public process, the objective is to make reconciliation, resolution and reconstruction possible. 

Lessons from Naga experience has shown that much emphasis is laid on the outcome and not on the process, and therefore the results have not been very encouraging. The tendency to bypass procedures of democratic participation and due public process of dialogue and accountability have often weakened and negated well-meaning and good-intended initiatives. To sow the seeds of healing in the Naga nation, it is fundamental to ensure that a democratic and accountable process is respected. There is a dire need for a relevant approach which reveals the truth without compromising or neglecting mercy, justice and peace as essential values for healing. 

For too long the question of Naga political rights has been politicized and hence has become divisive in its outcome. Any issue which has emerged out of this politicization has tended to be hotly contested; only furthering the divisions. It is therefore important that the Naga political rights are put within the historical and political context of the Naga peoples will and desire to determine their own political destiny. From this point of view, it is imperative that any process involved in creating a pathway towards Reconciliation, Resolution and Reconstruction needs to be done so from the standing point of the peoples will and desire to determine their own political destiny. In order to do so, the importance of ensuring an inclusive process is of absolute necessity. For too long, in the name of convenience and adjustment, democratic principles of participation have been overlooked. This has proven detrimental and has resulted in aggravating polarized positions of differences and jeopardizing the well-being of future generations.

For the sake of future generations, for once, let’s transcend the isms that ail Naga society, and let’s put into perspective the need for Nagas to recognize the necessity of a dignified existence that will be made possible through mutual respect and understanding. In this, let us hope and give an opportunity to the proposed Naga Reconciliation Forum to lead in a process that will unite together the Nagas in the endeavor of forging a common road that can accommodate all Nagas in their pathway to freedom.