Sunday, May 16, 2021

Forced faith

History is replete with accounts of people ~ those in power, those who believed they have the power and those who appropriated power as their sole prerogative ~ who actually believed that they alone know what’s best for everyone and have appropriated the autonomy of people’s thinking abilities ~ albeit unsuccessfully in the end. Such people are abundant today also ~ although they may not necessarily be in power or have the power they wished they had. Such people either impose their power through weapons of violence or through words and ideas always in the form of castigations, invectives and coercion ~ that not only defy logic but also expose the pettiness and limitations of their own thinking. They judge another by exterior behavior, actions and words without knowing the reasons thereof. Appropriation of the autonomy of people’s thinking capacities isn’t limited only to the political, social, economic, cultural and the traditional realms ~ it also applies to the sphere of faith, in whichever God one believes. Today we have a bizarre situation in Dimapur where all shops, except pharmacies, have been “directed” to remain closed on Sundays so that the Holy Day would be spent in holy ways. True the Bible says that after creating the heavens and the earth and everything in between, God Almighty rested on the seventh day, which for Christians is Sunday. But Sunday is the first day of the week. So, shouldn’t Saturday be the Holy Day? Much to ponder on. Anyway, how can closing shops and markets make people holier and more faithful? After all, faith is a matter of 24X7 living, breathing way of life. Does shopping on Sundays make people unholy and less faithful? Those that have “directed” this closure must have done some very scientific study and survey to arrive at the conclusion that the only way to make people observe the Holy Day and make them holier and more faithful is to shut down the town. Oh, wouldst to God that the methodology of this scientific study and survey, if it has been done, is shared with the people so that we would willingly eschew all unholy activities, for instance eating or simply being human on Sundays! The thing about Christianity is that it is not a forced faith ~ one has to believes, one cannot be forced to believe. Free Will is the fundamental gift of the Almighty to humankind and it is absurd that some people should think they have the sanction to violate this Free Will and force faith on others. Such despotic thinking and action thereof is the very antithesis of Christianity. The silence of the Church in Nagaland, irrespective of denominations, suggests that it too believes in forced faith, which further negates the Almighty’s gift of Free Will to humankind. But what also of our democratically elected state Government? Why has it remained silent over its constitutional powers being appropriated by non-state actors? And, this isn’t the only instance. Inarguably, there are numerous governments in Nagaland and the people are increasingly squashed and smothered between and among them making a complete mockery of the exercise of elections to the state Assembly. Thereby the state Government is also invalidating its own legitimacy by allowing itself to be cowed down. It is equally pointless to look up to the Union Government, which is hell bent on making all citizens believe in one way and one way only. Doesn’t the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 (CAB) suggests that? However, history is also replete with accounts of people rising up against despotism ~ we are witnessing one such rising against the CAB here ~ but make no mistake, the rage runs deeper than that in each Northeastern state for various reasons. We have also witnessed Northeastern Governors and Ministers speaking to empty galleries on Republic Day this year. Perhaps the Union Government, our state Government and non-state actors are delusional about more imagined than real power and glories but the ordinary citizen isn’t and appears to seriously take William Shakespeare’s instruction: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures”. (Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218-224). Forced faith also forces tides in the affairs of men.