Letter To Editor | Mar 16,2019
Aug 10 , 2019
By Eden Sahle
Today, we are living in a toxic social environment where people in Ethiopia no longer realise people should be respected and valued because they are humans. It might be true even at the global level, where people’s value comes from the passport they hold and their economic status. Sadly, in Ethiopia, we have reached the point where everything has to do with politics and tribalism. It has become tough to converse with people generally, because they feel aggrieved, relating things to all the wrong perceptions.
Ethiopian citizenship that should have been the common thread that connects us all is vanishing quickly. The government system and society’s values have created an intolerably divided nation along the lines of ethnicity, politics and religion. Good governance alone can only go so far, even if it was achieved. At some point, the public has to be able to meet it halfway. Leaders, after all, are the products of their society. The more corrupt the social value is, and the more disrespectful the governed are, the less respect that governors will have. This makes them more likely to rule than govern. People in Ethiopia are forgetting that people are bound by shared values of humanity, freedom, liberty and equality.
Last week, I heard a shocking true story of a couple who were scheduled to be married in two weeks. Just like most couples in Ethiopia, they were preparing for the wedding for over a year. As the wedding day approached, the groom-to-be came to Addis from the United States where he is based to wed his bride-to-be, who lives in Addis Abeba. A few days before the wedding, the man decided to visit his family in one of the regional states. Days after his visit, he broke off his engagement and called the wedding off over the phone only because his parents believed that his wife to be is not related to him ethnically. He told his fiancé that his parents had chosen a suitable wife for him from their own region.
This is the embarrassing level to which this society has fallen, intoxicated with all the wrong attitudes. Instead of working and striving to build this nation deprived of all its basic needs, many belittle others by condescendingly labeling them. As much as I felt happy for the woman not destroying her life by marrying such a feeble man, I am incredibly sad for the mindset many have come to develop.
Our fundamental objective as citizens should be to become united beyond politics and realise democracy, prosperity and equal human rights. Respecting humanity should be the prerogative of a responsible society; otherwise, everyone will lose. The public should act responsibly in how they treat others, and those who are older should know better.
If we see where the rest of the civilised world is, it will help us to wake up and see that we are far behind from everything. It shows us that we need to work on beneficial things instead of wasting time with trivial matters. If we are to build a developed and democratic nation, we need first to stop attacking one another by working together for the common good. The “I am more human due to the place I came from” attitude has never been beneficial for any nation in the world.
The attitude of looking down on others and the feeling of superiority is destroying national consensus. Simply put, this marks the difference between civilisations. The most civilised are those where the citizenry empathises with each other and respects human lives. Narrow-mindedness destroys logic and empathy and makes people bitter toward one another.
Compassion and respect for human dignity will not spring forth out of the blue. Only the public that believes in human value can create it. If we want to be a society where respect and unity are more than just rhetoric, thinking in terms of humanity has to start in our minds and lives sooner rather than later.
Thinking in terms of humanity is what allows us to build a united nation and persevere. Finding dignity in all humans without making them fit into any category is perhaps the most valuable use of our time. Otherwise, our mind will be consumed with meaningless and dangerous attitudes toward others.
We need to give up the superficial tribal details about people, and we need to choose not to obsess so much over them. The simple way of reorienting our minds and living a valuable life has a lot to do with choosing to think in regards to humanity.
We have enough problems as a nation. We should not add more pain and trauma into the already fragile situation of the country. We need to move together and support one another despite our heavy burdens. Inseparability is not just nature’s preferred way, but it will inspire valuable change.
It is in our hands to effectively create solutions to today’s problems, which will lay the foundation for the upcoming generation. What society needs is to pursue unity to achieve peace, the rule of law and better standards of living. It is necessary for us to be more rational and better informed to work together and get out of severe poverty.
PUBLISHED ON Aug 10,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1006]
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