Is it Right for Christians to Overthrow Their Government?

In line with a good majority of our Nagaland population, I too strongly feel that our current government has lost the moral support of our people as demonstrated in the recent case of the ULB election that resulted in the deaths of three precious youth. And candidly speaking, I wish all the “rotten tomatoes in the basket” to be removed as soon as possible. In addition to their mishandling of the recent ULB Election, I have more reasons as to why I feel the way I do. Let me add five extra reasons:  

First, our so-called leaders are eating our lunch while we are asleep. For them, it’s all about keeping their own chairs and building their own empires. Except for our votes and support, we are the least on their minds.  

Second, they have turned our socio-political structures to be twisted and crooked through the use of money-power. They and their cronies have hijacked the State machinery to shore up power. They have corrupted everything they have touched. As a result, we are seeing a complete subversion of the democratic system in our State. Now, it’s just an oligarchy, where a handful of wealthy people and special interest-groups determine who gets elected or who doesn’t. For example, during the election cycle, crores of Rupees from our politicians flood into the hands of the masses to buy their votes. Then, they spend more public money buying candidates to form a majority party.  

Third, our current governmental system no longer serves the people; rather, it serves itself. As far as serving the people is concerned, it has become a “Do-Nothing-Government.” Bluntly put, our politicians are all talk, no action. Even when problems of inaction or wrong-doing are brought to their attention, they only resort to tactics of more empty promises and sweet lip-service to deflate public pressure or to delay solution. They don’t understand that the blame for the problems must end with them (accepting responsibility). Their main achievements are amassing personal wealth, growing their own party bigger, and promoting Naga festivals.

Fourth, our politicians are visionless. All they do is simply borrowing Delhi’s vision and programs, whatever they may be. They are merely doing what Delhi has asked of them to do. Even all the Central flagship programs are more or less fully funded by Delhi. That shows that our old guards are totally plagued with bankruptcy of original ideas. But they still don’t want to pave the way for the younger, more educated generation to take charge of their own future.  

Fifth, most of our old-generation politicians are incompetent. They are stuck in the past and regressing further. Needless to say, they are out of touch with the fast-changing world. They don’t realize that today’s problems are so complex, changes are moving so fast, information flow is so massive. Or, can they honestly say that they are up to the challenges of our 21st century? For that matter, do they even know anything about macro-economics to be able to grow our economy? If they claim they do know, why are our infrastructures missing? And, why can’t we still stand on our own feet even after 50 years of Statehood?  

For all these reasons, and more, it makes sense to demand change from our government. After all, we need to return power to the people. Ours must be a citizen government again. We must empower our communities for self-governance as in the days of our ancestors. We must put our people first. We must restore our Naga honor and self-respect to all.  

But the million-dollar question is this: How should we remove “the rotten tomatoes in the basket”? Should we topple our government because it has done all the wrong things?   If Mr. T.R. Zeliang finally chooses to resign from his Chief Ministerial position, the current standoff should end there. But what about the entire Opposition-less Members who are equally in the same boat throughout this entire episode? Is a one-man sacrifice for the “sins” of the whole group fair and just?  

By the way, we must accept our share of responsibility for the misdeeds of our politicians too, because we are the voters who participated in their selection through the use of an electoral process. As such, it is incumbent upon us to use the same process if we want to remove them. We have a moral obligation to be fair if we expect others to resign on moral grounds. In a democratic society, those of us who disagree with the government still have all the options of working for change by speaking out, petitioning, demonstrating, forming interest groups or parties, voting against unpopular leaders, or running for office ourselves. But all these must be done without the use of violence and with the least inconvenience to the public.  

Finally, if we Nagas want to call ourselves Christians, shouldn’t we follow what the Bible says? According to Titus 3:1-2 and 1 Peter 1:13-17, Christians and churches must submit to their governments, even if these institutions may sometimes become dictatorial or wicked. Only the human government has the legitimacy, or rightfulness, to “hold the sword” for the purpose of maintaining order and ensuring justice in a society (Romans 13:1-5). Conversely, this also means that no political faction, no union, no civil society, or no church association has been given the divine sanction to “hold the sword” as a means to enforce compliance.  

If these commands were not there in my Bible, I’d probably like to do everything possible in my power to overthrow the current Government of Nagaland. But at the end of the day, I must make a choice whether to be driven by my reactionary feelings or to be guided by my Christian belief and work to affect change according to the established rule of law.