Burden of History

There is a Russian proverb which says: “Dwell on the past and you’ll lose an eye; forget the past and you’ll lose both eyes.” This insight possibly best illustrates the dilemma that confronts the choices we make when it comes to engaging our past. It is quite evident that that we can either choose to address our history – no matter how pleasant or unpleasant it may be – in a healthy and positive way, or we can choose to pretend to forget it and by denying it, we unwittingly allow ourselves to be taken further away from the center of our being. In the final analysis, the most fundamental question at hand is, what do we do with our history; and how do we address it in a manner that will allow us to build a future? 

Indeed the task of addressing our history is a painful task; but not to address it would only cause more pain and distortion of our humanity. Its no wonder that people of great faith have stated that “The struggle of people against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” Therefore no human has the moral authority to say ‘Let bygones be bygones,’ after all common experience indicates that the past, far from disappearing or being forgotten, is embarrassingly persistent and will return and haunt us unless it has been dealt with adequately. Archbishop Tutu reminds us that unless we look the beast in the eye we will find that it returns to hold us hostage.

There is no doubt in my mind that we must begin to address the legacy of our history and create space to affirm and celebrate its positiveness while also acknowledging and correcting where it has gone wrong. It is therefore essential to address the burdens of our history in a meaningful and just manner. Hence, the questions of acknowledgement, self-criticism and transformation should be defined in individual and collective terms with a sense of responsibility, dignity and compassion. 

Therefore, for the sake of the future I believe that when Nagas have effectively regained control of its destiny, a process must be initiated wherein hurts and wrongs committed by Nagas on Nagas in the name of the Naga people must be addressed in a meaningful and substantial way. This may symbolize a significant step of a long process to address political hurts within the Naga socio-political fiber so that we can begin a process of healing collectively as a people. Similarly, economic justice must be addressed and poverty be removed. Those who have wrongfully profited out of the conflict must be held accountable and the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’ must be genuinely addressed in a manner that would facilitate the growth of an egalitarian society. 

The process needs courage and political will with a vision while making space for God to change hearts because the process of transformation is not reasonable – it needs something more than reason to evoke it – it needs grace, grace that comes from our Creator.