There is a reason why the wisest teacher once advise his disciples and all who would listen to love your neighbors as we love yourself. As we give to others, we give to ourselves. Kindness displayed is returned with joys. Hatred we impart manifests itself in our souls. Forgiveness and compassion in this sense is not so much for the receiver but for the person who is giving it.
This lesson is lost on many these days as more and more people have made the naïve decision to stand against injustice by wallowing in anger and vengeance. Animosity has become a cancer upon our land, whereas our forefathers believed in collective wellness and communal advancement, too many Ethiopians these days are running into their defensive corners and viewing the world through tribal lenses and seeking retribution through ethnic blinders.
Zeregnenet is a fever that is spreading throughout Ethiopia; like a virus that has no cure, it is festering and eating away at the fabric of our nation. In the race to monopolize pains, collective judgment has become the norm. Oromos blaming Amharas for persecution, Amharas blaming Tigrays for oppression, Tigrays blaming Amharas of chauvinism as the list of tribes vilifying other tribes is growing by the minute. What colonizers could not accomplish through cannons, we are doing to Ethiopia with our tongues. While some try to destroy Ethiopia outright, others who pretend to be about Ethiopiawinet do so through the narrow prism of ethno-nationalism.
I do not dismiss for a minute that various communities have been otherized and mistreated in the past and even in the present. But to blame the whole of a group for the sins of a few is not only myopic, it is immoral. All Ethiopians irrespective of the shades of our skin or the divergences of our dialects have suffered; being born Amhara during the age of the monarchy did not give them a privilege pass based on identity any more than Tigray people enjoy preferential treatment during the age of Melse Zenawi. Just because the person sitting on the throne in the past or in current times lived like a sultan and injured the citizenry does not mean that the tribe from which he came from were did the same.
These facts are lost on a people who have let their minds become infected with factionalism. Common sense has been overtaken by uncommon contempt, instead of working to better Ethiopia, some would rather seek revenge and let bitterness be their moral compass. This is folly of the highest order, healing will never be uncovered by burying one’s head into the sands of prejudice and malice. What is sad is that adults who should know better—elders who should be leading with patience and forbearance—have made the choice to join into the caravan of grudge.
This race towards rancor has no boundary; the politics of tribal grievances and ethnic supremacy has seeped into every corner of Ethiopia. Not even churches and mosques are immune to this disease, there are now temples being built in the name of tribe as tribal preachers continue to balkanize Ethiopia. Whereas Eyesus taught about love that is universal, some use His name to spread exclusive justice and extol separatism. Whereas the Prophet Muhammad told his followers to not harm others with their tongues and hand, some use the Quran to bash others who don’t look or think like them.
The problem in Ethiopia is not politics but our spiritual brokenness. In the quest to chase modernity and gain the acceptance of the world, we have let outsiders condition us to hate our history, disrespect our heritage and demean one another. My favorite psalm in the bible is 68:31 which reads “princes shall emerge from Kemet; Ethiopia shall quickly spread her hand to God.” This is not a recounting of the past but a depiction of our present and a foretelling of the fate that awaits us if we do not forgo resentment and choose grace.
There is one way to redemption and it’s through love. I believe that there is a silent majority of Ethiopians who are repulsed by the band of demagogues who keep injecting hostility into the public square and inciting violence, it is time for the majority to stop being intimidated by zealots and speak up for the sake of Ethiopia and our children. When you speak up, do so not with a spirit of acrimony but with good will and understanding for paying back cynicism with antagonism only furthers hate.
One of my favorite speeches by Robert F. Kennedy is one where he speaks about injustice being swept down by tiny ripples of hope. During his visit to students at the University of Capetown in South Africa, he noted:
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
It is time for Ethiopians to abandon enmity and indifference and instead choose humanity above ethnicity. Let us not turn our diversity, which is the strength of our nation, into a weakness by fighting over our differences. Yelling at each other about who hurt worse will not do anything to feed a starving child, give hope to a struggling mother or relieve the anxieties of a stressed out father, the only way we can make our country better is by working together.Let us listen to one another, let us talk about our hurts without assigning collective blame and most importantly let love be the medicine that heals our nation. #Ethiopia Click To Tweet
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.