Compassion in Crisis

Archbishop Tutu remarked that a nation divided during a repressive regime does not emerge suddenly united when the time of repression is passed … neither can anyone have the power 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. 

There is no doubt that Nagas must begin to address the legacy of conflict and create space to acknowledge the deep fresh scars so that the healing process can begin. And as Nancy Good Sider put it, in order to forget one must first remember. It is imperative to address the legacy and scars of protracted conflict – and especially armed conflict in a meaningful and just manner. While recognizing those who have been objects of injustice, one cannot also simply ignore the fact that no one is innocent. Who is innocent? 

In the course of protracted struggle people have come to assume both roles and in the process of regaining their humanity, it is possible that they lose their own humanity too. Hence, the questions of acknowledgement and forgiveness must be defined in individual and collective terms. In situations of protracted conflict where whole society have been affected, for genuine reconciliation the process must have a sense of collective responsibility, collective acknowledgement and collective forgiveness. 

Recognizing that one is capable of doing the same things their opponents or oppressors have committed it is important to make the space for God to change hearts and acknowledge the need to reconcile within oneself. Indeed forgiveness is not reasonable – it needs something more than reason to evoke it – it needs grace, grace that comes from the Creator of all life. 

Brueggemann indicates that the compassion of Jesus is to be understood not simply as a personal emotional reaction but as a public criticism in which he dares to act upon his concern against the entire numbness of his social context. He continues to say that compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness.

For the sake of the future, once Nagas have effectively regained control of its destiny as determined by the will of the people a process must be initiated where hurts and wrongs committed by Naga people on Naga people in the name of the Naga people must be addressed in a meaningful and substantial way. This will symbolize a significant step of a long process to address political hurts within the Naga socio-political fiber so that healing collectively as a people can start. 

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 a just society. Recognizing the limitation of both victor’s justice and victims’ justice, these processes of should be rooted in the Naga struggle for self-determination and should emerge from the people with survivors’ justice as its standpoint so that it not only liberates the oppressed, but also the oppressors.