For Nagas to make positive changes in our daily lives and follow a long term vision, we need to decisively overcome the victim mentality. Due to decades of conflict, suffering and trauma, we have a tendency to locate our individual and collective identities within the broad framework of victimhood.
These assumed identities have resulted in most of us playing the role of the victim in our personal and professional lives. Unfortunately, this has direct political, social, cultural and economic implications on our daily lives. A victim mentality prevents us from being whole persons and robs us of our vitality, replacing it with insular negative thinking and actions. We always find someone else to blame for our present state of affairs instead of being accountable to ourselves and other for our thoughts and actions.
So long as we refuse to take responsibility for our own situation, we will always be its victim, filled with self-pity, which perpetuates an addictive and destructive cycle of dependency.
Consequently, a victim mentality obstructs our path in finding our own solutions to our local problems. Invariably, this leads to either a state of hopelessness, or one in which we depend on others to solve our problems.
Our current social movements too are broadly based on victimhood. Our responses to the present crisis are reactive, while in reality the situation needs proactive responses. If only Nagas would emerge from this victim mentality, our social and political movements could become vibrant, self-confident and self-assured in taking responsibility to finding solutions to our problems.
The campaign against systemic corruption and the Clean Election Campaign which are at the forefront of today’s social movements are in dire need of new ideas, creative thought processes and a robust and responsible imaginative praxis. This will emerge only when it goes beyond its own sense of victimhood that introduces corrective measures and inclusive values.
A victim mentality creates an erroneous hypothesis which works on the belief that problems stem from individual ethics rather than the system that perpetuates and conditions individual behavior and thought.
As a result many are asking in Nagaland whether it is the politician or the system that has failed the people. Or is it both? And, even more as to why Nagas continue to tolerate those who have repeatedly proven their corrupt behavior?
A victim mentality has led to contradictions akin to double standards of living and values. For instance, a politician may overtly support clean elections, but their actions indicate otherwise. This duplicity has confused and distorted priorities – creating a sort of social schizophrenia. And, it has veiled the process of honestly indentifying the specific and actual nature of problem facing the Nagas.
We all have to work hard to overcome the victim mentality. It is okay not to play the victim. This means assuming responsibilities of our current situation and taking responsibility for our individual and collective lives. It also involves forgiveness and healing. The process of healing is critical to dissolving the link with victimhood and becoming free of the past.
Can Nagas go beyond victimhood and embrace a survivor’s identity? Indeed, Nagas have survived colonization, state repression, militarization, tribalism, factionalism, corruption, and every day we survive the bad roads, the depleting public infrastructure and bad governance.
In the end, for a new Naga identity to emerge and to create an alternative situation to the present one, it will need all our political will and courage to go beyond victimhood.