For too long, religion has been a cause of hubris and conflict instead of being a source of humility and love as it should be. Though all faiths teach us to be kind and compassionate towards one another, we keep inverting the instructions of prophets to enhance ourselves and batter others who do not think as we do. The root cause of war is ego, from Genesis onward, we have allowed strife to consume humanity because we insist on judging instead of accepting and embracing our differences.
Such is the case in Ethiopia, a country that is the epicenter of all three major religions is undergoing a profound crisis at this present moment due in large part to the politics of tribalism. Though the issues I point out in this article are about my the country that I was born in, if you pay attention you will realize that the problems that are gashing the Ethiopian community are ones that are creating dissension throughout the world.
Though Ethiopia was far from a Utopian society, for countless centuries Christians, Muslims and Jews coexisted while neighboring countries were undergoing the horrors of religious wars. Occasionally blood would be shed in the name of God as it has been throughout human history, but for the most part Ethiopians lived side by side with one another without the need to pick up weapons over theological differences.
This began to change forty-five years ago as a godless gang of nihilists overthrew Haile Selassie and imposed order by unleashing the chaos of a biblical genocide throughout the land. The Marxist Derg junta made it a point to erase God from government; in the process they created a division between the spiritual connection Ethiopians had with one another. After the Derg was overthrown, in came another group of godless despots by the name of the TPLF who made it a point to weaken faith based institutions in order to maximize the power of the state.
A half century later, Ethiopia finds herself at a cross-roads. A land that was never colonized due to the solidarity that Ethiopians had irrespective of our religious differences began to crumble under the weight of ethnic grievances. Demagogues intent on manufacturing sectarianism, some backed by foreign actors and most motivated by opportunism, started pitting brother against brother and turned neighbors against one another. Today, Ethiopia stands at the precipice of disintegration because too many have bought into the concept that the only way to freedom and prosperity is through separating to form new countries and ghettoizing each other based on identity.
Far from finding riches and liberation, the more we Balkanize ourselves, the more we end up in the dead-end of poverty. The only ones who prosper from division are the ones who subtract society into fractions, the rest of us only gain hardships the more we add on to the spirit of animosity that has become the norm. The original sin that led to the first exodus out of Eden was rooted in the deception of the devil, a promise of power in exchange of separation from our source is the reason why Adam and Eve banished themselves into the arms of desolation.
This lie of eminence if only we seek ego above God keeps repeating itself and has metastasized like a cancer in the empire that traces its roots to Judah, accepted Christianity first and a land that the Prophet Muhammad fled to in order to escape persecution in Mecca and Medina. One of my favorite verses in the Old Testament is Psalm 68:31, it ends with “Ethiopia shall quickly turn her hand to God”. We are conditioned to seek happiness by accepting the excesses of secularism only to yield sorrows the more pursue material wealth. What we are missing is what Ethiopians once cherished, money without community is dead.
If love of money is the root of all evil, love of self is the genesis of tribulation. Sadly we keep falling victim to zealots who teach us to monopolize pains and condition us to fight instead of working together to better our lot. The politics of me has infected every facet of society, wolves in sheep’s clothing keep leveraging religion to incite resentment and foster violence. Where Ethiopians once lived side by side and respected our religious differences, now churches are burning at al alarming rate. This is the danger of zealotry, when we objectify human suffering, we end up with the pestilence of strife.
The time is now for people of faith, without bias to the name we call our Creator, to do as our faiths teach us. Judge less and love more, only by treating each other with empathy and goodwill can we hope to restore a modicum of sanity in this world. Instead of using scriptures to bash one another and prove points, how about we actually heed the lessons of the messengers of peace that were sent to teach us the path of righteousness. When we turn away from selfishness and understand the wellness of society depends on the well-being of the least among us, we will realize that this earth has an abundance for all of us.
Let us awaken to the spirit of love that abounds in all faiths. When Eyesus was counseled by his followers not to visit Samaria because the inhabitants were gentiles, he did not succumb to voices of indifference, he rose above the “us versus them” cynics and embraced Samaritans. When Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed out of judgement, God showed compassion and showed mercy instead of delivering justice. The Prophet Muhammad noted that the best among us are the ones who don’t harm others with tongues or hands.
The common element between all faiths is love. We have tried anger and hatred for too long, the more we chase the fools’ golds of arrogance, the more we find woes. I know it is hard to be charitable during times of adversity, the easy path is rancor but truly vengeance is a path to hell. The only way we can bend the arc of humanity towards peace and justice is if we embrace inclusiveness. Humanity’s greatest quality is our diversity of cultures, identities and thought, let us not turn these qualities in our downfall by seeking bitterness.If we are to find the change we keep looking for, it will not come by way of revolutions, the answer is simple, love one another as we love ourselves. #Ethiopia Click To Tweet
“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs” ~ Proverbs 10:12
Even if you can’t understand the words, listen to the music and take in the visuals for there is a message that is universal in this video.
Lij Teodrose Fikremariam is the Chair of Ethiopians for Constitutional Monarchy. He is the direct descendant of Atse Tewodros II, the once Emperor of Ethiopia who united a fractured nation during Zemene Mesafint (age of princes) and imbued Ethiopia with a sense of togetherness that enabled them to eventually defeat Italy at the battle of Adwa. Lij Teodrose was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia but grew up in America. He has a Bachelor of Arts from George Mason University and an Masters of Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. Lij Teodrose believes in one Ethiopia and that a nation can only be judged by the wellness of the least among us.