Between Hopes and Possibilities

At the heart of indigenous people’s existence is its collective critical consciousness; provided as an alternative to the dominant culture and one that refuses to accept the interpretations of reality as defined by dominant. The consciousness that results of a dialogue, needs to lead towards understanding; an understanding which is the understanding of differences. Such a dialogue should realistically struggle with problems and attempt to find solutions to the issues by developing a feeling of critical awareness of the situation and creating a culture of self-assertion that originates from a common heritage of shared values, common experience of oppression and a common envisioned future. 

Perhaps the journey should begin with fostering “critical solidarity.” Critical solidarity is the power that comes through recognizing and respecting dignity of all and understanding that they are united in opposition to the injustices they face by embracing the richness of humanity. It involves creating a common vision where there is withdrawal of consent to existing established institutions and participation from all power structures of domination. It should lead to the empowerment of peoples and provide an alternative vision of the world that involves the active transformation of both humans and structures till they are able to enter into right relationship with one another.

Critical solidarity requires strong leadership based on indigenous values; leaders that must engage with people as “communicators” and not “commentators” with the ability to emancipate human reason from State structures and the consumerist culture. Critical solidarity therefore demands reestablishing links with a past from which the people often feel that have been cut off and they must now seek to rewrite their history as makers and not objects. The interplay between leaders and the people is often complicated and complex especially when it seems that consumerism has created societies in which truth does not matter any more, it’s the personal feelings that count. 

Therefore, a leader who confines his or her role to the people’s feelings may create a situation of stagnation while a leader who transcends his or her people’s feelings to uncover the truth runs the risk of being misunderstood. The complexity is compounded furthermore when in times of crisis and upheavals, a leader who confines to the feelings of the people may acquire temporary popularity, while a leader who gets too far ahead of the people may become irrelevant. Hence, a leader must be an educator that involves building a bridge between the feelings of the people and a vision in which truth is prior to the feelings. It is a process which embodies the relationship between leadership and governance. It implies educating the people on what they need to know and not what they want to hear. 

Al Mubarak al-Mili describes the importance of the historical quest as: “History is the mirror of the past and the ladder by which one rises to the present. It is the proof of the existence of a peoples, the book in which their power is written, the place for the resurrection of consciousness, the way of their union, the springboard for their progress.” The leadership must educate to arouse critical consciousness and enable people to locate themselves in the relentless movement to reclaim their humanity and the realization of their values. History, to these leaders is of the essence and their dynamic singularity stems from their ability to discern challenges that are not yet apparent to their contemporaries. The leadership must embody the truth of indigenous values and challenges by constantly working to meet the growing aspirations of people with the capacity to guide and persuade the people in the spirit of preparedness and respect. To succeed, the leadership should be able to evolve the movement from resistance, reform and restoration to transformation that is rooted in today’s resistance that transforms institutions at every level.

Indigenous aspirations are about new life; it is about creativity and originality that brings to public expression the yearnings and aspirations and “collective imagination.” It is about ensuring the essential ingredients for this to occur. Indigenous leadership and governance are only a part of a wide ranging dialogue on the fundamentals of redefining concepts of institutions, rights, duties and democracy that is generated by the grassroots. Peace, therefore for indigenous peoples refers to a vision that recognizes that there can be no peace without justice. In reality, it states that there is no road that leads to peace, for Peace itself is the road, which begins to emerge only when all forms of injustices that destroy human dignity are removed and when people have regained ownership to be self-determining entities. Peace demands addressing all forms of injustices through fairness and righteous means and necessitates the transformation of all unjust systems to ensure that the injustices are not committed again. Peace is not a single vision; it is a way of life that involves a complex process in which many elements are converging to form a new vision that is united in action in challenging the powers by moving from resistance to transformation. 

Are Naga leaders willing to assume the role and responsibilities that are being demanded of them by time and history?