By PETER SANG
Feb 20, 2010.
Whether we are indigenous people of Chinland with our own centuries- long history and culture is no longer a matter of argument as we have had adequate historical and scientific facts that support the existence of the Chin people even before the 9th century, which is as early as a number of other nation’s histories. For this matter both foreign and local distinguish scholars, anthropologists and researchers have put life-long commitment with the concern and desire to see the origin of the Chin people at one hand and on the other hand to lay the ground for the further existence of Chinland and her people. And to add more, even the question of what we want in the future as a people should no longer be a matter of disagreement among our people after all decade-long struggles that our great ancestors and some of our national level organizations relentlessly have been fighting.
As much as historical facts and findings have shown us the existence of the Chin people since time immemorial, many Chins have also have been adequately fed up with detailed historical facts and figures, which many of us easily forget without being very much aware of what the consequences might be for our own future destiny. However the important questions do not rest upon those facts and figures, but rather on the contemporary situation on the ground with regard to the inner conflicts that trouble the unity and oneness, and how we react against different forms of outer pressures that confuse and even stop us from making the right choice.
Now, let our goal be crystal clear that we want self determination and federalism in the Union of Burma. No one should be confused this day by any means that we have the goal that we from all backgrounds collectively could share. The goal must not only be endorsed, it must be advocated by every individual as the starting point towards national unity and solidarity. The celebration of Chin National Day should also come with the true spirit of self determination for our people and the federalism, which are the important ground foundations of the first Chin National day gathering 62 years ago. No matter what our ancestors in the past did, we have the right to maintain or change as the situation deem necessary. We are the right people at this generation to decide our destiny. It is not to forget that things in immortal world changes as time passes, so can the cultures and the needs of our people also be different from before.
Every year since the 1948 nation-wide gathering in Falam town, the Chin National day in some different names but same in meaning has been celebrated by the Chin people with important solemn determinations in mind, which in the past and now have been the survival of the Chinland and her people, which includes self determination, freedom from outside interferences or the rejection of feudal system of governance. It is a well known fact that our desire is still oppressed by systematic yet reckless interference of other powers without our consent up until now. As we have had a life-long oppressive experiences under the military regime, if we do not choose now to act boldly and decisively, our future is most likely to be indifferent. The planned 2010 election in Burma as we already know from the ready-to-use constitution, will not guarantee the desire of our ultimate destiny.
There is no immediate solution to the long lasting yet deep-rooted conflicts in Burma. The conflicts are rooted in a few majors factors; constitutional crisis, ethnocentric behaviors, strong nationalistic but in ulterior motive way, xenophobia practices. We can find one or more of the above mentioned categories among ethnic groups in general, and between the Burma ethnic and the ethnic groups in particular. No miracle is likely to come, the domestic conflicts and violence seem to be going on unless we act swiftly and boldly.
Now, whom we are going to blame for these all conflicts? Is it the military alone responsible for this? Or have anyone of us ever claimed that we too has stake in this crisis? For our National Day, I‘d like to bring one thing that I think is worth to take a few minutes to ponder. “To know oneself” is what everyone is believed to be aware of as critical. No matter how we define a broad meaning of ‘To know oneself’ is, in this article in a narrow definition, to know our true identity and to know our weaknesses and strong points. And most importantly to be able to distinguish the availabilities and choose the right ones and utilize them.
Without knowing ourselves the ability to decision making is unstable and weakened. To know ourselves in individualistic sense would mean of being able to indentify our weakness, strong point and ability to carry things out and so on. In collective sense knowing ourselves would mean knowing who we are or our collective identity; what we want; what our weaknesses are and what we are good at and so on. In my case, for the Chins to understand the weak sides rather than the strong sides would be more critical. By being able to identify our weaknesses, it would no doubt be easier to find solutions.
We the Chins are unfortunately little aware that we are weak when it comes to individualism. We assume that we are strong collectively, which also is true but not sufficient, but sadly forget the fact that we are backward individually. If one is cautious enough to be true patriotic and pragmatic in the current socio-political context, I believe that one is to be more focus on individual prosperity, which includes self independence, self reliance and self confidence. Why this is so important is our society? Very simple response to this question has to be that our generation has been under constant and strict surveillance of the so called superior power culturally or traditionally embedded to our system. Let these be the Military regime from top to bottom or the local authority in our own blocks or villages and painfully even in our own community fellowship and family circles, they are all to blame. Unless we tackle the very root and basic conflict nature of our society here and now, the same old future is awaited.
The fact that we have good points collectively is undeniable. Some examples are: we have a clear demarcated land; languages that we can communicate- a lingua- Franca; religion with active and regular fellowships, we love peace, we are obedient, and we have other traditional gatherings that gives us chances to interactive communication and warmness. These all show that we are weaved tightly together which make us strong and united. We have moral duty to maintain what are good at. The sad side is that we are satisfied with our good points that lead to the ineffective result of laziness and self satisfaction of seeing the result of our collective actions. We with or without consciously often let ourselves forget the power of individualistic action.
In fact, this is a question of whether we are stronger in collectivistic mindset or individualistic one in our society. Both must be applied, but most importantly we should be more individualistic oriented for the facts that I mentioned above. When we look at every individual in our society, the lack of specialization is significant and is not a good sign as we are moving through the civilizing process of our society. We are still lack of professionals in the fields of Information technology, engineering, economics and science though we are more active in the field of politics and religion. As we know, there are usually hundreds of specialists [professors of different fields with PhDs, post doctorate scientists] or even thousands of them at a large institution [university, scientific research center]. The question to rise here is if the Chin people are ready to fill all posts in such an institution. I think the answer for the time being is ‘NO’. Therefore to convince our people the importance of this very fact should be a priority.
Each one of us is to be aware of the need to be self independent! It is not enough that we are collectively independent from outsiders; we must be independent individually as well. To reach this goal we must be ready to take initiative in response to critical encounter, and likewise one must not be blockages to process that already been implemented by others. That would in other words mean; “we mind our own business unless required”. We must not be reluctant to learn things, and not solely relying on help and assistance. We must be aware that our helpers will be tired one day and stop helping us. As usual, when helper is gone we are left behind empty handed return to the same old situation with more challenges remains unsolved.
Therefore we must be willing to learn things relentlessly and ambitiously. The road ahead would be rough and tough but be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best as Burma independent father Aung San once said. We, especially the young should know that without times of pain in life, very little good result can be expected. There need to be times when we even forget pause, while other indulge with everything. A desire to learn and understand things in details around us has to be strong, to make it clear we must be willing strongly to be specialists in a field.
One last thing that the young generation has to boldly deal with is that we have to dare to face old thinking of the past which may no longer relevant to the contemporary digitalized world. In this case strong and pragmatic mind has to be born among our young generation. Strong mind are expected to confront old traditional ways of racial discriminatory comments often come from elites group in our society or our elderly leaders. Such comments seriously undermine a sensitive nature of our national unity and collective action in our society. Surprisingly up until now there are still either in secret or openly comments and teachings that discriminate people on the ground of tribal, dialectical or linguistic background. Some comments even acknowledge that national unity with this or that group is impossible and therefore required constant vigilance. These warnings are rife among our people and must stop now. If we do not act now, we choose to suffer forever or the problem will not be solved in our life time.
In conclusion, I summarize my message by stressing that knowing ourselves better than ever and the ability to improve the nature of our mindset in our society require a must-act-now decision. As the saying goes; “The most important time is NOW”. As we collectively claimed our destiny 62 years ago on this day, we must make our mind now and here again that we are to commit for more independent, prosperous, tolerant and open individuals for the good of our whole society and better future of our generation. Now is the time to look at you yourselves not at other. Happy National Day!