>> Saturday, July 18, 2015
Ajay Pradhan | July 18, 2015
The Preamble of the preliminary draft Constitution of Nepal glorifies armed struggle. The Preamble apparently refers to the 10-year armed struggle from 1996 to 2006 between the government forces and the Maoist rebels. That armed struggle resulted in the killing of 15,000 Nepalis, many of them civilian non-combatants. Many citizens disappeared, are still unaccounted for, and are believed to be dead. There are cases of victims who were burned or buried alive and many were hacked to death. Victims’ surviving families are still living a life haunted by horror and terror. They are still grappling with the loss and trying to find some sense in the horrid outcome that some call collateral damage of the armed struggle.
And the Preamble of the draft Constitution unabashedly calls that horror and terror-filled armed struggle and in many cases barbaric killing and bloodletting a part of Nepal’s glorious history. Really? Glorious for whom? For the victims? For their families? The perpetrators should face the widows and mothers and children of the teachers, the farmers, the innocent citizens who were burned or buried alive, and ask them if they thought the armed struggle was glorious.
The glorification of armed struggle and the bloodletting is senseless and insensitive. We Nepalis accept it as part of our history, yes. But there is no need to glorify it. Those who are smitten with violence could wake up at night and gloat over it, if they wish. But, they should let the rest move forward, not drag them to the past. History is an important lesson. But history is not the pathway to the future; you must be courageous enough to chart the future course on the ideals on which to found your future.
If you tell me if armed struggle is not mentioned in the Constitution, then the Constitution is not worth the paper it is written on, I have an answer for you: You want to glorify the armed struggle and the killing and spilling of the blood? Go ahead and write a book to do that. Fill every single page with gory details. Go right ahead and gloat over the bloodletting, puff-up your chest.
But leave the Constitution alone, and with it let the rest of the people move ahead. Do not sully the Constitution with glorification of violence. Violence was part of the history, but must not be the foundation of the country’s future. The Constitution is about the country’s future and its preamble is about the founding principles for that future. The preamble of a Constitution is to declare the principles and values we resolve to found the country on. It is not a place to gloat over and glorify killing.
Learn from other countries. America’s founding fathers wrote their Constitution in 1789, within five years after the end of the American Revolutionary War against Britain in 1783 for America’s independence. More than 25,000 Americans lost their lives and about as many Americans were seriously wounded in that war, which had gone on for eight years from 1775 to 1783.
You know what the founding fathers did? They had the good heart, good wisdom, and, above all, good vision to not dwell on the past, not to harp about the grievances against Britain or military agents of the colonial rulers, not to expect anything from the colonial masters who ruled them for all their history. The founding fathers mentioned nothing in the Constitution, not one single word, about the war that brought them independence. They left all that for history books. Why did America’s founding fathers not glorify the war in the Constitution, that set them free from Britain? Why do you think? If you are too entrenched in the idea of glorifying wars, I doubt you’ll ever know; unless you’re told.
So, listen up: Because a Constitution is not about the past, it is about the future and it is about the values and ideals on which to found the new nation.
Instead of glorifying war and armed struggle that ended merely five years before, they chose to not give any space to the war but chose, instead, to focus on insuring domestic tranquility as a founding principle of America.
They did not mention war not because they forgot it; they did it because they wanted to found the country on the ideal of peace.
Instead of dwelling on the historical injustices, they chose to found the country on the ideals of establishing justice and general welfare.
Instead of expressing grievances of the colonial rule that denied true representation of the Americans in the colonial government, they chose to resolve to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and for posterity.
And they, the people of the United States, wrote the Constitution for themselves, they charted their own destiny. The rich Americans didn’t write it for the poor, nor the powerful for the oppressed, not the elites for the marginalized, nor men for women. No such distinction was needed to write the Constitution; they were all equal. Unlike Nepal’s draft Constitution which gives every hint that it is written by elites and the powerful to bestow on the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, and, to borrow the words from the draft Constitution, the "helpless single women", America’s Constitution was written by the people for the people, each equal to every other, of the United States of America.
No wonder they were able to write a preamble that, with merely 52 words, is so succinct yet so vast, so accommodating, so visionary, so enduring, so forward-looking, and so full of hope for the future to create a more perfect Union that they didn’t have to split the hairs nor write with nuances, nor meaningless details.
With great brevity, instead of dwelling on the historical grievances, recounting all the historical wrongs, they chose to look forward and found the country on the ideals of liberty, justice and peace.
A Constitution is not a history book. It’s the soul of the future, yes, the future, of a new nation. If we want a new Nepal, we have to look to the future and lay our Constitutional foundation for that future with great courage and great vision. If we only want to dwell on the past, we might as well simply be writing history books.
This task of writing Constitution is not for those with small heart, smaller mind, and short vision. This is only for those with great courage, great mind and great vision.