The Church- ‘The sleeping giant’ (QuoVadis: Naga Christians)

S C Jamir
Former CM & Governor

The present-day state of affairs in Nagaland leaves much to be desired, it saddens the heart to see the web of greed and deceit being indulged with impunity and with scant regard for the rule of law. The writings on the wall are evident today as Nagaland has become like a ship without a rudder. This has ultimately given birth to all forms of social evils resulting in Violence, killing, gun-culture, hatred, divisive forces and massive corruption which seems to be the order of the day. Such as is evident the systematic collapse of all systems in the state. 

Should we, the Church remain silent and allow the already volatile situation to degenerate more? Or remain just silent spectators only. 

Two decades ago, the Spiritual leaders of the Church had given a call “Nagaland for Christ.”  The reason is not far to seek as more than 95 % of the population are Christians. What does Christianity tells us? What are the ideals and principles of Christianity? We all know that whatever is happening in Nagaland is absolutely contrary to what Jesus Christ stood for! How can we justify killing, hatred, mindless violence, extortion, tribalism, abuse of power, divisionism etc in the land that has been declared as “Nagaland for Christ.”?

Has the true God been replaced by Mammon? The mind and soul of the people have become clouded by materialism. When materialism becomes the ‘ Mantra’ of living- the Church by itself becomes weak and cannot stand as it is also manned by persons who are not God fearing. The Church is there to correct, admonish and guide the members to the true principles and teaching of Jesus Christ with no exception. Negative forces have raised their ugly heads everywhere and in every sphere of activity. It has infused itself on our culture, traditions, and beliefs and even penetrated our faith. 

It is indeed disheartening to notice that the people of Nagaland have developed a thick skin and become quite immune to the acts of cruelty and barbaric acts of violence by the perpetrators. One of the most abhorring spectacles is that when killing takes place in the broad day light and in public view, no one raises voice against such barbarism.  The Church prefers to remain silent even if killing take place at their very doorsteps. This is not only baffling, but also shocking! The Church leaders should have been the first to condemn such heinous crimes but they would rather prefer to maintain a stoic silence.

Democratic ideals and transparent principles of trust should have been the edifice on which modern Nagaland should built her future. Yet, the reality points exactly at the opposite. Now consider the political scenario in the State.

Do we have any doubts, that all the elected members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly are Christians? But where are the guiding principles and ideals of Christianity in their conduct and in their running of the democratic institutions? The great irony is that almost all electorates are also Christians! If any civilized person has a close look at the kind of election that takes place in Nagaland, he or she will be shocked and surprised to see how money and muscle power influences the voters. Surprisingly, those who are championing the cause of sovereignty actively are involved in the election for reasons best known to them. 

Election in Nagaland has become not only a thriving Industry but institutionalized. Votes are sold or auctioned openly to the highest bidder, who is advertently elected. Democratic ethics and the sanctity of the electoral process are routinely buried in the graveyard of greed, fear and manipulation.

The elected MLAs are already bankrupt due the heavy expenditure incurred by them. Now what do the bankrupt members do? They devote their time and energy in amassing their wealth by fair or foul means to make up for what they had invested during their elections, and ultimately they have to cannibalize the fund meant for the people. In such a degenerated and vile socio-political scenario, can we expect something good to happen? The cycle is vicious: voters take money from all, votes are purchased by candidates, the highest bidders get votes from the voters, and in the process the elected candidates became totally bankrupt. Will they discuss about their debts or people’s welfare in the Assembly? This is a Billion dollars question and it is the Church that should come out openly very courageously and speak out against such evil practices. 

Analyzing the entire gamut of electioneering process in the state, the root cause of this malady begins with the electorates. And the irony of the ironies is that all electorates are Christians! Who then start the process of reform?  The Church that had declared “Nagaland for Christ ‘’ should take the lead to inspire believers on the path of moral recovery.

The people of Nagaland want everything in one basket without actually doing anything. Politics is their only bread and butter now.  Their over-indulgence in politics has pushed everything to the backseat; academic activity, infrastructure building, economic activity, social regeneration and rejuvenation, discipline, good governance- everything associated with a civilized society has been swept under the carpet. Only thing that concerns the people of Nagaland is money and material gain. Who should guide and take the people under the umbrella of trust, ethical conduct, morality, honesty and love? It is the Church that should wake up from its slumber and attend to the call of the land and save it from further degeneration.

There should be a resurgence of systems in the state which has long been discarded such as political ethics, economic growth, social welfare, educational, good governance, polity and many others which require a new lease of life. In general the Naga public were left to fend for themselves for past more than six decades the result of which is not far to seek. Will it not be an opportune time to uplift the Nagas from their present mindset of dichotomy? They have made dwarfed themselves in all respects because whatever they have done was circumscribed by narrow domestic view point. The Nagas focus should be global, a world in tune with the current scenario in the country and the world. This is a very special question put before the Nagas, especially the younger generation.

We have learnt from history that if a culture is willing to switch over tracks cultural transformation is definitely possible. “Cultures are like a huge locomotive, sitting on different tracks at the World Train Station. Trains may be there without moving, it will neither carry the passengers nor reach the destination. Naga political struggle or demand is exactly like the train which does not move to any direction but remains in the station. The Nagas have to choose a train that moves in other tracks. Many perceive peace as the absence of war or violence. Peace is the transformation of contextual and destructive interactions into more co-operative and constructive existence.

The next question is when to move? Time Focus; Present-and-Future or Past-or Present oriented. Time focus had four categories: time past, the present, the immediate future and the distant future that merges into the afterlife. Time-focus for a progressive-prone culture is present and future oriented. Time is an arrow, in flight, and heading for a goal. The present and the future are considered that the only time dimension that can be acted on, plan for, and influenced. Golden Age of humanity is not remembered from the past, but anticipated in the future. If this is the case, should the Nagas continue to eulogizing the past or we have to choose the present and future. As  the book of Ecclesiastes says For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to kill a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up etc. Is it not a time to build up? As a Christian State and to demonstrate in reality the proclamation that Nagaland for Christ, is it not time to dethrone hatred and coronate love, to dethrone hypocrisy and coronate truthfulness, to dethrone violence and coronate peace and dethrone ill-will towards others and coronate compassion in our hearts? God wants to empower us to impact the world for Him so that it reflects His Kingdom.

Isaiah 60: 1-3. “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you, For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth , And deep darkness  the people, But the Lord will arises over you and His glory will be seen upon you. Nations will come to your light.” Surely Nagaland will come to God’s light, may be the time is TODAY.