Peace: A personal perspective
Shalom Bible Seminary
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e live in a world marred with conflict, violence and hatred. The recent development of nuclear war tension between the North and South Korea; the killing of five Indian UN peacekeepers in South Sudan; the riots among the Buddhists people in Myanmar; the escalation of border tension between Nagaland and Assam; the Ultimatum served towards the Rengma Nagas in Karbi Anglong; the opinions for inclusion and exclusion of considering the Mao tribe as ST in Nagaland; all these incidents jeopardizes the idea of having peace in our land and at large.So what do you think of when you hear the word peace? Quite often we read the opinions of people in regard to peace in the local dailies and various, yet for many people peace remain a shrouded term in their minds, and what it means to achieve peace. The Hebrew word SHALOM (Peace) signifies a multi-faceted characteristic incorporating harmony, beauty, virtue, healing, justice, security, equality, understanding etc. Although biblical peace looks forward to the final culmination of the second coming of the Messiah (the Prince of Peace) where there will be complete Shalom. Nevertheless, biblical peace never lacks the positive vision of a life where human beings live as they were intended to live with each other, under God.
This article highlights what is peace in a context where the nature of conflict is beyond intractability. This doesn’t mean the problem in our context is beyond reconciliation and healing. But how do we really understand peace in a context like Nagaland is the prior concern, entailed with the contribution towards building peace individually is the goal anticipated.
Looking at the Indo-Naga political problem the points of conflict are not just political accords, but includes irreconcilable moral values, matters of justice and gross violations of human rights, high-stakes distributional issues, unmet human needs and issues of identity. Usually this kind of conflict saturated contexts has very damaging effects. If at all we have to stop these facts which are key determining factors of conflict in our land, don’t we think that it is far from possibility to put an end to all these at once.
Assuredly these factors would linger forever in our societies, although immense efforts are vouched together. For the fact that Nagas are a tribal confederation, a male dominant society, politically and geographically displaced and most importantly many of us are forced to live with our forged identity beyond state and international boundaries.
In the midst of these callous realities within us, what is it that we have today in the form of peace? First, the FNR has mitigated the talks between the warring Naga underground factions; second, the present political leadership is open and transparent to accept the opinions of the public and ready to convene peace-talks; third, the GOI has improved so much in terms of relational policies adapted towards the peace-talks. Albeit on the flip side, we have inter-factional killings, exclusion of some groups in the talks, apprehensive about the solution of the bilateral peace-talks, dissatisfaction of infrastructure development by the government of Nagaland.
What I would like to emphasize here is, in the process of all these political development, conflict in Nagaland has tremendously de-escalated from the last one decade. What more can we asked for? Is it freedom, an autonomous state, or an integrated Nagalim? My understanding of peace does not intercept with these demands or possibilities since peace is a process and it cannot be achieved within a limited span of time. But what is important to us now is the given opportunity to build peace and sustainable relations, and what have we done? Several people have questioned the dissipation of the FNR, some have blamed the churches for her apathetic attitude towards building peace, and many of us have cynically laughed at the football match between the underground leaders. But so far what the FNR, political diplomats, church leaders and UG leaders have achieved has destabilized the status quo maintained by all groups.
The idea of coming together for peace-talk itself is peace; the participation in the football match itself is peace; the political leaders convening peace-talks itself is peace; the churches praying for peace is peace; all these activities are peace achieved partially if not fully. The greater response lies upon the Christians who are called to be peacemakers. Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God, this particular verse urges us to declare, by our actions as well as our words, that we believe in a God who does stand over our individual stories and the larger stories in which we find ourselves; and the need to pursue peace in our lives and valuing peacemaking as the kingdom principles does point to a future of restoring SHALOM in our land.