Gaslighters: Predators allowed to insanely plunging Ethiopia into a slippery slope situation.
G. Amare, May 23, 2020
“In the short run, lying is easy and honesty is hard. In the long run, honesty is easy and lying is hard. What you choose today makes your tomorrow.” (Shane Parrish).
To start off, let me take this opportunity to express my deepest condolence to families and friends of the young men who were shot dead in Tigray (Mekelle and Naeder, Adet woreda) for allegedly failing to comply with the coronavirus emergency order. May God bless the young men’s souls and grant their family peace and strength to bear these irreparable losses!! I am hoping that theTigray police will learn from these incidents and revisit and evaluate their policies and procedures to prevent such incidents from occurring again.
Otherwise, as usual, the rabble-rousers are trying to manipulate these unintended incidents to their end and use them as ammunition to crack and sneak in through to challenge the unity of Tegarus. However, I don’t think Tegarus will lend their ear to such insane and outdated provocative and divisive tactics. Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity applies here, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." When the situation or incident occurs in favorof their agenda they seem to have concern and loveto the Tigray people; and when the situationgoes against their agenda, they openly declare war or call for a sanction orgenocide to decimate Tegarus. Tegarus should collectively say to these good for nothing individuals and pseudo-politicians, ‘YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!!’
Let me now change the gear to describing who gaslighters are and how their typical behaviors manifest. The term gaslighter is derived from gaslighting which is defined as a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or groups covertly sow seeds of doubt in targeted individuals(1). Gaslighters are individuals who depict deliberate patterns of shameless lies, deceptions, and manipulations to convince victims accept their concealed motives while doubting their (victims) own memories or sanities(2). They openly engage in distorting and masking known facts and evidence to invalidate and undermine the experiences, abilities, memories, and perceptions of those who resist and stand against them.
To achieve their goal, they do anything and everything they can. They are addicted to telling blatant lies and denying any wrongdoings despite existing hard evidences; they don’t care if their actions match their words; they use everything within their reach to recruit and align supporters on their side to wear and tear down challengers; they easily forget and seem to have no recollections of their deeds, even the most recent ones; and over time, they turn against their own supporters and start to tear them down once they accomplish their missions and achieve their covert motives; and sometimes, they throw in positive reinforcements and stimuli to attract, motivate, encourage, persuade, and confuse their hard core loyalists and potential supporters (3, 4).
In addition, gaslighters possess narcissistic behaviors (inflated sense of own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration), and sociopathic behaviors (often break rules or make impulsive decisions without feeling guilty for the harm they have caused) (5). They make a lot of sudden twists and turns which make them hard to follow and predict what their next move would be. They don’t have slight hesitation to break promises; they always blame or enjoy finger pointing at others for something they themselves failed to do. They demonstrate jealousy or exaggerated self-importance or brag on minor accomplishments.
Gaslighters appeal to peoples’ emotions but avoid dealing with real issues, policies and actions; they effectively and widely employ all available medias to disseminate fabricated information that may at the end of the day become accepted as truth; they consistently and deliberately make false statements and promises to the extent others start questioning and doubting what they know to be true. Over time, their manipulative tactics may grow more complex to make it difficult for victims to discover the truth of thematter. When gaslighters are challenged or questioned, they feel hurt and become indignant and their covert manipulation can easily turn into overt abuse and false accusations which may escalate to angers, intimidations, threats and punishmentsif opponents continue to challenge them and resist to accept their false narratives.
Gaslighters always look for and use weak pointsand triggers as favorite weapons to influence and persuade their audiences. If audiences are not well informed on how to protect from and fight against, gaslighters can easily erode audiences’ self-confidenceand trusts in reality. The best defense, to study their approaches and tactics; and understand the values of self-esteem and self-respect and be persistent to not, at any cost, put your personal integrity and moral compass into negotiation for any material gain. Be inquisitive and always ask questions such as why, how, what, when, where and by whom before swallowing withoutfiltering, digesting, and scrutinizing of any information disseminated by gaslighters.
What is astonishing and unexpected is the EPRDF’s birth to defective and unstable individuals who have now joined the old gaslighters and become engaged in spewing and sowing conflict provoking agenda and hatred against certain ethnic groups using public resources (media and budget) to materialize their personal motives and dreams to turn Ethiopia back to the obsolete unitary political system by decimating the existing ethno-federal arrangement. They are everywhere to frantically navigate the majority from one crisis to the other but found nowhere when it comes to vision, policy, strategy, and courage to go nose-to-nose against Ethiopia’s complex social, political and economic problems.
Without doubt, gaslighters successfully manipulated many Ethiopians with their deliberate patterns of shameless lies and deceptions to convince and press them accept the claims that TPLF and the people of Tigray have been the only responsible entities for all the crimes and any wrongdoings that have occurred in the past 27 years. They were able to maneuver not only the innocent Ethiopians but also countries, far and near, and international organizations to believe the false claim that the post-1991 politics, military, security, and economy of Ethiopia have been totally controlled by only 6% minority (Tegaru). Without shame, they have beenclaiming that the Ethiopians’ living standard have changed from bright and well-off (pre-1991) to dark and destitute (post-1991) conditions. Surprisingly enough, many innocent victims of gaslighters have started to doubt their own memories, sanities, or experiences on social, political and economic developments and success stories of the past 27 years.
These inward-looking gaslighters enormously and fully invested (still are) their resources in blackmailing and campaigning against the language based federal system. They have been playing the game of divisiveness and hate politics to incite and stir up conflicts among different ethnic groups and have been pushing for violent and unlawful acts with their ultimate goal to prove that the cause for any political encounters andmishaps is the language based ethno-federal system. That is not all! They have been, without any fear, traumatizing anyone who challenges them and stands against their political stands. They ceaselessly have worked to bring all Ethiopia’s enemies under one umbrella in an effort to get support towards their futile attempt to restore a unitary system. It is an open secret that these gaslighters collaborated and worked hand in glove with foreign enemies, betraying and conspiring against the interest of Ethiopia (their country?)by giving up and selling their morality in exchange for securing financial support only to meet their greed for power.
The gaslighters tried to persuade and convince foreign countries by repeatedly feeding them with false information that the language based federal system is no body’s project and interest but only that of TPLF, deliberately devised to divide and rule Ethiopia. The gaslighters have been engaged in non-stop barking and howling loud to entreat the international organizations and countries to lend them hands to overturn and abolish TPLF. Disgracefully, some countries and international organizations have jumped into supporting the gaslighters’ false claims without due consideration of such a complicated political matter, without careful assessment of the consequences, and with blind eyes and deaf ears. The international organizations have played and applied double standard methodological approaches in collecting, compiling and distributing unfounded allegations against TPLF, being convinced by gaslighters’ false claims and allowing themselves (international organization) to get engaged in crusading and disseminating unfounded reports against TPLF.
The gaslighters and their associates have ignored, undermined and denied the undeniable fact that the language based federal structure was formed by consensus of all stakeholders to answer a long overdue question and address aspects of basic rights-social justice and equality-among all nations and nationalities; and they have overlooked the fact that Ethiopia has been on the right track of development with great determination and decisive measures to change its (Ethiopia’s) global image-the image of poverty and famine-ridden-once and for all. And now, all those who supported and got involved in weakening and eroding Ethiopia’s government structure, security and defense forces find themselves between a rock and a hard place, and are acting like a fish out of water. Is this the time when one is tempted to say ‘easy to get into but hard to get out of’?
To no one’s surprise, some of the old gaslighters, one way or the other, took part in the red terror and inhumane massacres and mass murders of the Derg regime; and in waging wars that occurred prior to 1991. Now again, they are back and have joined the newborn gaslighters, serving as advisers in the palace, and have started beating a war drum. They totally forgot or do not care to recall the wars-the wars that cost the lives of poor citizens; caused massive displacements; resulted in the destructions infrastructures; wasted the country’s meager resources; left many citizens with posttraumatic stress disorders and injuries, physical deformities and mental health disorders; and resulted in deteriorated socio-economic situations.
Yes, gaslighters easily forget what they said and did but how come members of the Ethiopian parliament who supposedly are expected to represent the different nations and nationalities became victims of gaslighters in such a short time and already forgot the unforgettable period (prior to 1991)? The fact was that the majority of their (parliament members) constituents were leadinglives under hardship-hardships to get the very basic social services (health, education, transportation, and infrastructure) and hardships to satisfy their basic needs. How on earth have many Ethiopians become gaslighters’ victims and totally deleted out of their memories that the majority of the Ethiopians (still are) inhabited in disconnected villages of ruggedterrains and hilltops while others were living in nomadic and pastoral lifestyles without any physical access to basic social services? How come, at no time, they have lost their (parliament members) recollection that the majorities had been suffering from all kinds of miserable circumstances and social problems?
Yes, gaslighters have repeatedly fed their supporters false information to cloud their judgments while intimidating those unwilling to accept their (gaslighters) side of the stories which are full of fabricated and distorted facts and propagandas. It is astonishing to observe many with doubts clouding their minds and forgot that Ethiopia had been listed in a worldwide known dictionary not for good reason but as an example for the word ‘famine.’ Unless otherwise we have surrendered our personal integrity and moral compass, I don’t think anyone with their healthy minds will fail to recall and witness the reality that the pre-1991 was a history of nature and human inflicted sufferings and wars and as a matter of fact, many of the nations and nationalities had been under humiliation and in the process of being assimilated relinquishing their identities.
Everyone may need to reset their mindsets to recall that it was after the formation of the language-based federalism that the values of self-rule, equality, diversity, and decentralization of power gained recognition, validation, and appreciation. The outcomes of the federal arrangement haven’t been discouraging. Despite its practical deficiencies, it has, at least, allowed every nations and nationalities in the country to freely speak and write using a language of their choice and practice a culture of their own. It has offered some opportunities to exercise and enjoy political powers. The political consciousness of the people has grown beyond one’s imagination.
It is hard to believe that even those whom their existence was unrecognized or used to have unsettled lifestyles have been politically empowered to assume powers and have practically demonstrated their capacity indecision-making, identifying burning issues, setting priorities, and addressing their local problems. News of such development and collection of hard evidences do not make gaslighters happy, instead drive them crazy and angry because the success stories of the past 27 years serve against their interest and disprove their false claim that the language based federal system is dysfunctional and is a source of disunity or any disagreements.
Following the establishment of the federal system, political decentralization occurred which has been very important because it transferred power to regions, breaking the bureaucratic chains of the unitary system which used to serve as a bottleneck to making decisions and get involved in matters of their concern. A centralized and unitary government structure basically controls every political power and undermines the roles of the people at all levels.
So, representatives of the nations and nationalities must reclaim their self-confidence and self-esteem (if they used to possess any) in order for them to rationally and critically judge what is right and wrong to their constituents and act accordingly. I do not think anyone with their right mind would deny the fact that enormous efforts had been made in the past 27 years to construct infrastructures without which communication, access to education and healthcare, economic development, social interaction, and political operations would have been insufficient, if not impossible. The federal system allowed the country to fairly invest in education as it is one of the fundamental human rights which plays key roles in reducing poverty; in promoting and improving health service; and in serving as an instrument to arouse economic growth, efficiency, and productivity.
Being confused themselves, the gaslighters confuse many innocent citizens. For example, while some are unceasingly working to bring back the unitary system, confusingly enough, many of them seem to have no disagreement regarding the need of afederal system or as to whether or not the language, culture and identity of each and every ethnic group should get due respect and recognition. But when it comes to their option on administrative arrangements, I personally have the difficulty to comprehend because their idea gets complex and vague. Some of them contend that the formation of federal states should constitute not only ethnic identity but also other factors that incorporate geographic proximity, socio-economic bonds, and so and so forth. In my view, a policy that intends to institute a federal arrangement using combinations of different factors would not grant immunity to prevent political setbacks.
For example, when one tries to combine geographic proximity, socioeconomic bonds, and language, what becomes inevitable is the split of one distinct ethnic group into two or more administrative states. Let's say, one part of the Afar state is geographically adjacent to and may have an economic bond with Tigray state while its other wing is to either the Amhara and or Oromia. For geographic proximity, it sounds logical to assign one part of the Afar state with the Amharic speaking state and the other part with either the Tigrigna or Oromiffa speakers.
Politically and practically, however, thisoption may disallow the Afar people from exercising their right to use their own language unless the Oromia, Amhara, and Tigray states allow or decide to use two or more official state languages which i think is not practically feasible and cost-effective. With this, it becomes unclear how a federal arrangement using combination of different criteria would materialize without conceding or disallowing certain ethnic groups from exercising their rights in absence of any kind of compromise. Doesn’t recognition of language, culture, and identity mean allowing all to use a language of their choice so that they would be able to express their views without barriers; freely practice their culture; maintain their ethnic identities; assume political powers; learn and understand their environment; and get involved in decision making and planning processes?
To my point of view, Ethiopia now seems to have three obvious choicesas far as its administrative arrangement is concerned. One choice is to reverse the gear back to the old unitary system, the system that doesn’t recognize ethnic identity altogether and implement a policy of a single language and culture. The second choice is to drive forward by accepting the existing reality-ethno-federal system-that has recognized the rights of all ethnic groups. And the third is the formation of confederate states with very limited or reduced political influencesand power shares of central government.
Nevertheless, no one shouldn’t remain indifferent to allow pathological liars to continue with their shameless preaching to convince the innocent majority that pre-1991 Ethiopia had been socially, economically and politically better off and perfectly peaceful during the unitary rule (one language, one religion, and one culture). All seasoned politicians of Ethiopia, both proponents and opponents of the ethno-federal system, should reclaim their common sense not to dismiss and deny the undeniable realities that majority of the rural Ethiopians have been living in a marginalized situation for centuries, denied their right to health and consequently, suffered from preventable and avoidable health problems. In rural Ethiopia, it has been common to see people traveling many kilometers away from their places, on barefoot, seeking health services, even the very basic ones, at a remotely located clinics and oftentimes, carrying their seriously sick family or a member of their community on their back or on a traditionally made stretcher, tied with robes, travelling through rough and tough terrains and mountains. The unitary system was incapable of realizing the fact that all people should have equal rights to healthcare and any social services for that matter. The same is true with education.
Otherwise, the gaslighters have proved themselves to be incapable of demonstrating leadership qualities that include but not limited to vision (ability to see the future big picture); inspiration (ability to convey visions to others and get them motivated); critical thinking (clear understanding of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats); communication (meaningful, genuine, authentic, empathy, active listening); open-mindedness (ability to learn new ideas, possibilities, perspectives, willingness to adapt); Creativity ( ability to think outside the box); flexibility ( ability to stop, reassess and determine a new course of action); responsibility andaccountability ( assume obligations, accept accountabilities); and continuous improvement (find ways to develop new skills or improve weakness, identify and implement strategies) (6). These are some of theaccepted norms and routines of leaders. However, time and time again, both the new and old Ethiopian gaslighters have proved themselves to be visionless, policyless, and directionless when it comes to nose- to-nose confrontation with Ethiopia’s agelong history of backwardness, illiteracy and misery.
Needless to say, that Ethiopia's security is currently exposed to danger; its sovereignty undermined and at stake; and its foreign relationship in a state of confusion and disorder. However, the gaslighters’ focus, interest, concern and agenda still remain to be only and only securing power by and through any means including coercion and subjugation.
So, what? Every Ethiopian, without delay, should start to reclaim their common sense, personal integrity and moral compass to carefully reassess the situation where Ethiopia stands today and before the situation turns into irreversible scenarios. Also important is to always protect yourself from being gaslighters’ victim: know them! say no to them! fight against them! and in no way allow them to insanely plunge the country into a slippery slope situation.
Links for further readings