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How to Motivate Chin people


Hre Mang

Jan 04

Abstract: This article explains a brief social aspect of the recent Chin people’s movement and social political incentives of the movement. (If you think you interest, read it and when you finish reading you will feel like as though you never read it.)

There are, people say, movable and immovable people. The mobility of the people is usually based on both the mental psychological deposition and the social political incentive factors. If any particular people group moves far behind the contemporary group of people she might have to loss her privileges in the history, on the other hand, if she is advanced far ahead of others she might have gained additional advantages than the rest. At least from social cultural aspect, Chin people are apparently very much movable. However, looking back the recent movements around South East Asia, the Chin people of Burma stays always behind others. This is not to blame the Chin people but to clarify the historical settings where the Chin people partake within a particular context of time and history. It is encouraging to see that the Chins who were, comparatively, born from the first century type of society are now competing with the 21st century generation around the world. Although there may be some short of social cultural or psycho intellectual shortcomings, if they were moved with the right force toward a certain end, there is no doubt they will able to compete with the rest of their relatively advanced generation at least within the political context of contemporary Burma. From the overall evaluation, the reason why the Chin people stay behind is not whether the Chins are movable or immovable but if there is the mover with the right force.

Every conscious adult seems to have conviction that we need to move toward a certain direction. The first phase of the Chin people’s recent movement has faced unexpected calamity leaving enormous social political damages with politically death social groups. No wonder, if some people who considered themselves to be the movers or the moved stuck in the middle knowing nowhere to go ahead, lacking the essential force to motivate themselves. As we are in the middle of a political, social, and intellectual transitional period, it is understandable when people face difficulty to place themselves in the right place within their own historical context. That’s why we urgently need the right means of motivation by the right force toward a certain end goal. Although it may sound like telling a sick person about his or her sickness without giving him a medication, it may, on the other hand, be good to let him prepare for his essential healing.

Not only the Chin people lack means to exchange ideas, norms, and social practices to formalize and generalize them within the Chin society, during this social political transitional period, there is also lack of simplified moral and social path where people would easily identify the highest moral quality for day-to-day moral and social decision makings. It is also true far more for political ideological trend. It was not because the people were bad or uncivilized but because the segmented socio political and cultural settings of the people that delay the formation of socio political and cultural common grounds. Even the existence of such segmented social settings is not bad by itself, but the consequences of it when the social political actors of the society miscalculate the importance of the grassroots level social and political capital, it always causes unexpected social political setbacks. As it is one of the most important transitional periods and the fastest growth in the Chin people’s civilization, from the previous traditional social hierarchical order to a “new-form-model society”, there are, beside different social cultural understandings, various levels of intellectual developments among the people that makes the pattern for means of social political influence harder than ever. The social deposition of the people, based on their social and ethnical attachment, still stays fixed as much as or even more then that of the previous traditional society. As the individual survival and safety is, due to the collapse of the political administrative system, no longer based on one’s submission to the societal leadership, people care less about the governing body of the society and intend to rely on their own individual social attachment. Therefore, the nature of the social psychological settings of the people is far more complex during this transitional period, leaving the social actors without certified means to move the people toward specific direction.

The people’s recent access to the outside world has double impact on the people’s ideological trend. Intellectually and socially, the Chins who were born from the first century type of society are now exposed to the 21st century world. A little boy who once played with bugs and flies is now playing with computer keyboard. He must be feeling as though he becomes a little god when he looks back his childhood. A man who once traveled 30 miles a day through a jungle footpath with 100 lbs carry on his back is now driving a world-class model car. He must be feeling as though he becomes a little king, comparing himself with his previous village chief. A little girl, who once was crying for a small piece of Ta-na-kha is now beautifying herself with Hollywood actress’ choice. Once more, a little boy who once was playing with mud and bug is now playing with world-class wine and XXX drinks, saying, “Who cares, Who dares?” More excitingly, a man who never greed even a postman at the door is now speaking in front of world-class social actors. Aha! How great we the Chins are! Let a democratic government be installed in Burma and let our young generation in exiles return home to build our nation, the Chin state will be the most educated state in the whole Burma. The Chin state will score the highest percentage in the can-speak English language. In every governmental department, arts, science, or humanities and governance, there will be highly educated expertise everywhere. These are great, really great. However, for the sake of throughout observation, let’s consider the reverse impact. Among the people who have exposed themselves to the outside world, there may be some who have learnt about the Chin people’s dependency on others. So, for them, there may be no way of national survival without depending on others. Although the interdependency is a must in this age, seeing the interdependency itself as more important than the Chin people’s national existence is a suicidal ideology and is completely absurd. As a result, with such dependent political mindset, the necessity of the Chin national evolutionary cause is marginalized and getting any possible social political advantage from others becomes the most surviving social political incentive. Nevertheless, whatever the motivating factor, as long as our people get benefit from interacting with the outside world we should count it toward our progress.

The vision thing is necessary to be revitalized in the minds of the people. Where are we going? It is time to rationalize the 1988/90’s emotional political illusion to be transformed into politically practicable path if we are to reach the end goal. What is the end goal? A democratic federal union or an independent state? If then what is the importance of the role of the people. Which is more important, to enrich the individual level capacity and ability or to maximize the massive contribution to the whole movement. According to the dependency theory, the first is far more important; for a democratic government will be some day implemented in the country with or without the massive contribution of the people. If so, it might be wiser just to move along the gradual political evolution without investing highly vulnerable resources to the movement. On the other hand, according to the revolutionary theory, it is a must, during this transitional period, to build up the Chin national foundation and contribute the most on the movement that will in return open up an opportunity to design our own national future. Because, the dependency theory entrusted the whole course of the Chin national history on others, putting our national course more vulnerable at the hand of the political evils of the surrounding people. As history has bore witness, that will potentially repeat the history. According to the western social and political thinkers, nationalism is a threat to democracy. However, within the contemporary historical context, without nationalism, democracy is a threat to the future of the Chin people. It is always dangerous to be lulled by any type of political illusion. Therefore, it is crucial for the Chin people, not to compromise the two essential ideological trends: democracy and national movement, for without one of these any thing will cause a great loss. Politically saying, although it may be difficult to estimate how far the Chin people are vision oriented, it is necessary for leaders of the society to post a clear national picture on the mind-screens of the people that will help them see and know where is the end goal and what is their essential part along the movement.

One day, on a downtown street, a deaf man asked a dumb lady, “Where is the Lincoln museum?” Not hearing anything back he again said, “You foolish.” Depends on one’s level of expectation, the result of our political evaluation on the recent Chin people’s political activity may be different. However, it might not be wrong to assume that the overall progress is far behind the people’s actual socio political potential, not meeting the politically and historically “must thing”. There are some, whether they have political labels or not, more active individuals in taking roles to play the course. It seems younger leaders intend to play more active role then our senior leaders from whom many of our people have dream about a magic leadership. The intention here is not to mention who does or doesn’t what but to check the motivating factors, the social political incentives. At first, the politically emotionalized massive movement of the 8888 motivated many young men and women. The uncertain promises, the AK-47, the M-16, the foreign thing, the UN, the democratic thing, and so on once were very effective to steer many young men and women up for the movement. But now, just like Shania Twain’s song that says, “So, you are rocket scientist? That doesn’t impress me much,” those factors are no longer effective motivating factors. Therefore, it is no wonder if there is no reaction from the people when someone tries to motivate them with such means. In a quest for social political incentive, it is essential to dig out the social political behavior and mental deposition of the people, for without a renewed motivation, the current social political phenomenon appear to be moving toward diverse directions without a specific end goal, leaving the key determinant factors at the hand of other people who would enjoy exploiting the best of the Chin people. You, if you are sure you can hear or see, will find some group of people or individuals socially conscious but political death, others irresponsive or socially and politically deviated. In other words, many have fallen inside the sinking boat of the history and others wondering in the middle of the sea.

What does it mean when St. Paul Said “You were death in your transgression and sin” or when an American comedian said “Some of the European countries such as Sweden, Demark, etc. are politically death.” Were there any means to make those death groups of people or nations alive? The Mizo people used to say, “If you see a death Vai on the street, say to him ‘Hei Uncle kyi, here is one thousand rupees’ and he will immediately get up and take the money.” This question must have come across one time or another in the minds of our leaders “How to motivate our people toward our national end goal?” Although a death dog cannot be made alive, a politically death people can be made alive with the expense of certain amount of social political incentive. No social scientist may have a specific answer. Even though we lack the essential answer, it is important that we are convinced that we need a renewed motivation. Unless otherwise, we will all still stay the same, the deaths in the dungeon and the cripples on the street and the go-alones go alone.

First, lets examine the basic social tenets, fragmentation and the potential means of motivating factors. Undermining these factors have had caused enormous political loss in the past history. As the Chin populations are comparatively small and segmented into several sub-sub-tribes, it is essential to be aware of such fragmented social segments when trying to mobilize the whole group. Each single segment must be included in the internal stakeholder list. Although we all agree that we are one people group, there is significant social gap among us that can have serious negative or positive impact on the movement, if we intentionally or unintentionally ignored. Some professed liberalists may hate to talk about the naked truth about the Chin people’s social settings, but it is important to keep in mind while strategically thinking/planning and while trying to eliminate the consequences of such unpleasant historical legacy in the real world. How serious is this factor. Sometimes, you may present a gold at the door of a deathly poor Chin family but unless you walk through the attached social path, you may be refused or even humiliated. On another occasion, when a white (westerner) or a man from the same social affiliation presents a brick to the same family and you will see that same family enthusiastically welcomed it. Another example, supposed, a democratic government is installed in Chinland, and a man from Hakha or Matupi or Falam is, without assimilating to the local social cultural and mental deposition, contesting for Member of Parliament at one of Tidim constituencies, how wise or good that man may be, he will not be elected. In stead, even a Tidim dog will defeat him in the contest. This must be true to other districts too. Moreover, even among one particular region there used to be multiple social segments that were important for the flow of social evils and power. These factors are important for the internal environmental analysis to clear up the path.

Second, what are the available motivating factors? Again, this is a repeated question. As we have mentioned the importance of touching every key stakeholder, lets continue our quest for the available means of motivating factors. As mentioned above, the social affiliation and attachment is first and foremost important thing rather than any other social political or intellectual factor. In other word, the force of the social capital seems the most strongest and effective factor while other things stay formal. Therefore, canalizing the available means through the basic social segments seems the most appropriate way to further the movement. The problem here is that to canalize through various grassroots social segments, enormous resources is required. However, if it is an essential step that cannot be outrun, we still have to take the course anyhow. This social building process can have many positive side impacts along the way. As the Chin society has bore certain unpleasant memories, they can be healed through this social capital building process, at the same time, increases trust building and interdependency among the people. For example, many Chin people have been organizing themselves into different social segments in their exiled states, such as Chin communities, Zomi Inkuan, and Chin social, religous and humanitarian organizations, etc. Although politicizing these social grassroots institutions may end up negatively, they are the only valuable means to get rid of the past negative social depositions of the people. During this transitional revolutionary period, the top-down strategy may benefit only the actors at the most by deviating themselves from the whole course of national political priority. On the other hand, the bottom-up movement will at least energize the whole course action to maintain the political image of the people and restore the social force.

The earlier social political incentives, democracy, national sovereignty, patriotism, heroism, etc. have no more impressive power to motivate the people. Although the historical political necessity seems, obviously, occupying the minds of the people, one thing, for fear of the cruelty of the social evils among ourselves, many have withdrawn themselves from the scene, and another thing, for holding the dependency theory to nourish the individual level capacity they have set aside themselves from the movement. Therefore, it is necessary that our prominent social actors recognize the importance of the social reconstruction that will heal the past wounds, the sick, and motivate the politically death social groups. It may not be possible inside Burma as long as the regime plays the same role. In the exile, however, people have much better chances and means to mobilize the people through social, political, and intellectual means. Even the religious organism is helpful to heal the social wounds and to exchange means, formalizing the social environment. The good Samaritan needs to see that there are no more gangsters around the wounded travelers so that he might not fear any more to approach the wounded traveler to help.

As much as Burmese people need national reconciliation, the Chin people, for the sake of carrying the contemporary historical challenges, need social reconstruction and social political pollution control.

At the political stage, any aggressive or intrusive dance among different social groups will produce a collateral damage, repeating the same mistake again and again until nothing is left to loss. Although it may not be hard as much as to reprogram the regime leaders’ political mindset, revitalizing the Chin people’s social political incentive will have to consume time and resources. However, if there is will there is way. The younger generation will one day possess intellectual capacity to jump out of the traditional box and be released from the political fear psyche and promote at least something to clear the polluted social political environment. The older leaders, on the other hand, will have to try to motivate younger leaders by any means instead of trying to hold their political labels from their eroding status quo and at the worst, showing negative political gesture to the upcoming younger leaders. The political gesture of the older leaders is important. Because, the minds of the individuals are dominant by their social affiliation and not free to make their own decision until they are shown a positive gesture from their mentors. Therefore, the gravity of the individual for social political decision-making is almost always centered on their respective mentors/leaders. It is assumable that our older leaders are positive about the younger generation and willing to assist to develop leadership quality, by showing the social political incentive opened to them, so that they themselves will be released from their undone historical national burdens of their own time. Although ideas without action may be as good as a death dog or hope without initiative a death man’s pray, action without idea and hope is deathly dangerous. Let all sojourners be open to share each others’ hope and idea, so we, at minimum stage, entertain each other and at the most we move ourselves and others toward the end goal, while leaving no friend behind.