Building Bridges Instead of Walls

Aug 26 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew

Following an attempt to help a lady and her son who were struggling to get in a taxi carrying a large backpack, I invited a conversation with the mother who took a seat next to me.

It started off with a smile showcasing her gratitude for the assist. During our brief interaction, she was intrigued by my appearance which looked familiar and asked if I was from Dire Dewa City. I explained that I had been to a few places outside Addis Abeba but it was not one of them.

She expressed genuine interest in finding out more and delved into the personal questions about my work and family.

Although it felt a bit awkward to open up to a total stranger at the time, I tried to be cautious with my answers while remaining polite.

There is a fine line between genuine curiosity and outright intrusion into people's privacy. Especially inside public transport, I attempt to be mindful of my conversations as I never know who could be listening while sharing personal information.

Despite my reservations on the matter, i to continued the chat out of cheer politness.

After countless questions and answers, the woman asked if I could pay the taxi assistant 10 Br since she could not find her wallet. The moment had me suspicious thinking that the "I know you from somewhere" ruse was a scam.

I figured the amount she asked was not worth ruining the moment, decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and paid.

The conversation started making me uncomfortable with her comments on my personal choices while trying to impose her beliefs.

Apparently, the lifestyle and preferences I shared did not meet her standards and were not worthy to be mentioned in her eyes. I attempted to change the subject as the interaction began to take an unexpected turn but was unsuccessful.

Conversations should be a battleground for ideas. However, engaging wholeheartedly and trying to grasp other perspectives is wise instead of fixating on imposing own beliefs.

The right to express oneself has limits. Meanwhile, crusading others for their outlook is considered harassment and often fails to attract people. There is a fine line between persuasion and aggression; crossing it can cause resentment and backfire.

I finally told her my preferences were not her concern, and she eventually stopped criticising me. I was relieved the conversation ended but irritated by the woman's pushy behaviour. I appreciate learning different perspectives but dislike being forced into a certain ideology.

It is a fundamental right for individuals to make choices that suit their needs.

Everyone is free to make choices without being pressured or coerced by others. It is essential to be respectful of other peoples' preferences and life choices, even if we do not share them.

Although logic takes the major share, charisma and approach play their part in getting the point across. People are more receptive to new ideas when they feel understood. Instead of being accusatory, it is better to build relationships and try to recognise where the other side is coming from.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 26,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1217]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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