Is Naga unity a myth?

Moishen M Phom
Aizawl Theological College, Mizoram

Peace and unity are universally aspired, however, often, it seems paradoxical to visualize its existence. In any community, every sensible individual desire to have a peaceful existence with all creations. People across different cultures, religions, belief systems, and political systems yearn for a society where conflicts are resolved peacefully, where nations cooperate, and individuals can coexist harmoniously. Now, narrowing the discussion, the search for peace has been a long-standing goal in the state of Nagaland. In many third-world countries' writings, the colonial period is blamed for suppressing and hindering peace for marginalized groups. Similarly, Christianization accompanied by western culture and colonization not only successfully asserted control over the majority of the Naga territory but also made inroads into various aspects of Naga society, including its culture, politics, economy, and lifestyle.

The Naga people are not a homogeneous community but are comprised of numerous tribes, each with its unique languages, cultures, and historical heritages. While the coexistence of these diverse tribes is intended to represent diversity and the richness of society, yet, the unfortunate reality is that Naga society is crippled with violence and confrontations on all petty issues involving clan, village, area, range, and tribe. There is a very disturbing mentality of “us versus them”, “minority and majority” “power and the powerless” “the haves and the haves not,” and not forgetting “eastern and western.” The constant reality of conflicts that are entangled in the Naga society accentuates the question Is Naga unity a myth?

It is only natural for anyone to question the intricacies of Naga society, particularly given the remarkable achievement that in a remote corner of the world like Nagaland, Christian influence is still in a non-negotiable state, while in the so-called “first-world countries,” its influence appears to be waning gradually in silence. It is not rocket science to know that within Christianity, the concept of unity is deeply embedded in the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Bible encourages believers to live in harmony with one another. “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV). The teaching of our religion is as simple as loving one another with no preconceived notions of who is in what position of power or fame. As believers of Jesus Christ, are we reflecting the behavior and heart of Jesus? Do we genuinely uphold the basic principles of love and forgiveness? It is a daunting question to ponder where we are headed as a Christian state. While the absence of peace in the secular world may often be attributed to ideological disparities, philosophical conflicts, and ongoing political agendas, the absence of peace in a Christian-majority state like Nagaland prompts us to question whether the professed connection with God is merely a culture and tradition.

While it may seem ironic to question the existence of unity in a world longing for peace, the paradox arises from the complex and often elusive nature of unity in the face of real-world challenges. The pursuit of unity is a noble endeavor, but it requires continuous effort, empathy, and a commitment to resolving differences to make peace more than just an ideal, but a tangible reality. Ultimately, any discerning Naga mind would sincerely hope that unity is not merely a myth, but a flourishing reality in Nagaland.