THE NEED FOR A NATIONAL PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
- by Kaka. D. Iralu
June 8, 2004
Any nation big or small needs a national philosophy of life to guide its nationals from erring or stagnating. Even the Bible says: “Where there is no vision, the people perishes” (Prov.29:18). But do Nagas have a national philosophy of life? Do we indeed have a vision for ourselves and our children?
Today if we look at Naga society, we do not see any vision or philosophy of life except the vision to grab more for ourselves and live selfishly. However, in reality we know that no individual can have happiness in isolation to others. That is to say that our individual happiness is inextricably tied together with the collective happiness of the nation as a whole. As human beings, whether we like it or not we will always live in a society. And as social beings we will never find personal happiness in isolation to our society and nation.
Now, Naga society today seems to be only concerned with material pursuits. However, in our pursuit for wealth and happiness we must remember that while it is true that a “hungry man is an angry man”, it is also equally true that “a man with a full stomach is not necessarily a happy man.” That is to say that while material wealth and economic prosperity is a worthy pursuit, wealth alone does not bring happiness to an individual’s life or a nation’s life. For example though Japan today occupies the second position in economic super power status, it has the highest suicide rate in the world. Also though the US tops the list as economic and military superpower, it still has one of the highest crime rates in the world today. Surely the Bible was not talking nonsense when it said that ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ (Matt. 4:4 & Dt. 8:3). Among those words that had proceeded from the mouth of God, justice, honour, valour, etc. have their rightful and deserving places in the lives of individuals and nations (See Isaiah Ch.1). For this same reason, these virtues must have its place in a nation’s philosophy of life. After all to live a life of honour, these virtues are far more important than economic affluence.
Coming back to the individual level, there are indeed certain things in life, which we own as individual or personal property. However, as social beings we must understand that there are also equally important things in life, which we must collectively own. National politics and policies of a nation are such “collective properties” of a nation that must be owned collectively by the whole nation. Here, if any individual, clan, village or tribe tries to own national politics as a private property, there is bound to be clashes within the nation. Also, if the national philosophy of a nation is not collectively thought out by the various tribes or communities within the nation, national politics will go very wrong. In other words, national politics will go very wrong if the national philosophy of a nation is superimposed by some few individuals from above. We also must remember that the national philosophy of a nation cannot be imported from a foreign country whether it is from India, China or Russia. On the contrary, the national philosophy or policy of a nation must come from within the culture, history and customs of the individual nation.
Now having stated the need for a national philosophy of life and also the need of collectively owning national politics and also having stated the dangers of privately trying to own national politics as well as the danger of importing a foreign philosophy of life into national politics - let us next examine whether we Nagas have a national philosophy of life to guide our national politics and affairs.
Here, although there still remains many more things to be spelled out, we nevertheless have a Naga national philosophy of life stated in the Yehzabo (Constitution) of Nagaland. The preamble to our Yehzabo begins with these beautiful and profound words:
We the people of Nagaland, solemnly acknowledging that the sovereignty over this earth and the entire universe belongs to almighty God alone, and the authority of a people to be exercised on the territory is a divine trust from God… and having our attachment to the truth of popular sovereignty as declared on 22nd March 1956… to establish national institutions based on the common ideals of democracy, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity among the people comprising it, do hereby… adopt the Yehzabo of Nagaland…
This constitution next goes on to state the foundation of our nationhood, our geographical boundaries, the laws for governing our people and our foreign policies, etc. This momentous decision to form ourselves into a sovereign nation and the adoption of our Yehzabo on January 14, 1956 forever changed the course of our history. As a result of this momentous event, over two hundred thousand Nagas laid down their lives for what they believed in. This was indeed a statement about a nation’s philosophy of life - the price of which was paid in blood and tears.
This Constitution of Nagaland and the formation of the Federal Government of Nagaland, on March 22, 1956, held the Naga nation together in spite of the terrible bloodbath that the nation was subjected to, between 1956 to1964.
However, tragically, the first act of secession and treachery to this national philosophy of life took place on December 1, 1963 when the Naga People’s Convention through the 16 Point Agreement brought a foreign Indian State Government into Nagaland under Article 371 A of the Constitution of India. As if this was not enough, another act of secession took place when the Revolutionary Government of Nagaland was formed on November 12, 1968. This was further followed by the formation of the NSCN on January 31, 1980. As to how the NSCN further splintered into the NSCN (I-M) and NSCN (K) on April 30, 1988 and the NNC into two rival factions on July 17, 1990 are now matters of history.
In this way our own national leaders have torn our national unity and national philosophy of life into a mangled mess. As a result, today we Nagas are a confused nation with no common national philosophy of life to guide our nation. In this confused state of affairs, instead of building our nation, we ourselves are tearing our nation to pieces through extortion, abductions and murders.
But whatever the terrible mess we are in today, we cannot go on blaming one another and further destroy ourselves. Here let us remember that the national destiny of a nation is in the hands of its own nationals. Let every Naga therefore speak his or her mind and honestly re-define his/her national identity from the present artificial and foreign identities that we find ourselves in. To do this, we must go back to our national roots and our national Yehzabo to re-define ourselves. This is absolutely necessary because after all, a nation is not an infant baby that must be suckled and fed by a foreign mother or father. It is indeed high time that we Nagas re-assert ourselves and decide to stand on our own feet in unity and resilience with a common national philosophy of life. While doing this, let us not forget that in any nation, the individual’s happiness is subject to the collective happiness of a nation.