Authoritarianism Impersonating Democracy.

A very definite sign of foolishness of the highest degree is when one is so sure of a particular idea or thought to be the truth , the whole truth, and the answer to all the problems facing human kind. I am sure, to some, that conclusions of certain events, or actions that must be taken, are very clear in their minds because there is a lack of clash of ideas. To others, uncomplicated answers to issues are easier to be digested by their unquestioning followers. Of course, to challenge and dispute a given belief is hard work. Then, one could deduce from the previous sentence, that it is leisurely to devour all statements without any inquiry in spite of their dubiousness or silliness for that matter.

Central to the essence of democracy is for citizens to have informed and responsible answers to problems facing their societies. It is commendable for citizens to know their rights, but the absolute necessity for democracy to exist and flourish in any given society, citizens must know and carry out their obligations. Democracy is based on balance. Like any chemical imbalance in the head, the absence of fairness in politics leads to politics of hate which is comparable to committing suicide just to spite a political opponent.

When one studies the historical grandeur and magnificence of Ethiopia , it is possible to expect purposeful greatness from the political leaders who are now in power and from those who wish to be in power in the future. It so sadly happens, that the focus of so many is to attain governmental authority at any price. For any one that follows Ethiopian politics, especially the diaspora variety, there seems to be sufficient essence of truth to that.

Love for people and country should be more than waving flags. It should be more than insulting others. The primary question should be, what have I done to support the people and the country that I claim to love so dearly? Have I played a part in defending the national interest of Ethiopia ? What role have I played to improve the lively hood of the poor that I always talk about? Do I have a correct picture of the country that I talk about? What is my information based on? What have I done to improve the image of the country that I claim to love? These types of elementary and humble inquiries should be advanced by all those that genuinely have a vision of a prosperous , peaceful and democratic Ethiopia .

To love Ethiopia is to appreciate the recent immense economic, political and social enrichment it has recorded in spite of the enormous challenges the country faces. To love Ethiopia is to honor and be proud of the role it is playing defending not only its own interests, but also, the interests of the African continent, in terms of economy and the environment. To love Ethiopia is to defend its national interests any place any time. To love Ethiopia is not to belittle its achievements and be in the service of foreigners. To love Ethiopia is not to be in the pockets of political NGOs and their alien interests.  

The mere fact that your mate declares a dozen times a day that you are loved, means absolutely nothing unless it is coupled with certain actions that actually prove that you are the primary concern in the life of your mate. Is it possible then, that no matter how vociferous a group is on an issue, or how much flag waving ritual is involved proves utterly zero, zilch, nothing? When you see a politician kissing too many babies during an election campaign, I am sure you agree, is not a proof of his love for children. Whether he has the interest of the children at heart would only be judged by the pro kids policies he may institute once he comes to power. As they say, “the proof is in the pudding”. After all, have you noticed, this is historically speaking, of course, that those who are involved in too much flag waving are fascists and Nazis more than people from countries that have independent democratic institutions?

This sarcastic friend of mine asks, why do diaspora political leaders instruct and order their unquestioning followers not to go and visit Ethiopia ? Even though, I have no capability to answer this question adequately, suffice it to say, that the answer must have several key components that I wish to leave to the logical analysis of my readers. If I may be permitted to add, I shall only say, please do not shelter your supporters. Let them learn. Knowledge is beautiful. Correct information is power. Creating hindrance on the free will of citizens is the culture of authoritarians and dictators. By the way, do these people also tell their followers not to visit the Alamo , the Eiffel tower, etc. Or is it limited only to Axum , and Lalibela? Any organization that tells people what to do and what not to do is an enemy of democracy and inclusiveness.

After all, Ethiopia is not for the few, for the chosen. It is a huge multi-ethnic country whose people have diverse languages, cultures and religions. The only uniting and equalizing force that makes each individual citizen feel proud as an Ethiopian is when his own culture is respected by all and has the freedom to exercise his legitimate right to use any language, and follow any religion of his choice. Peace and democracy will not be alien to Ethiopia , only when each and every Ethiopian citizen would avow that he is a proud Ethiopian without anyone telling him of his identity.

While authoritarianism and dictatorship are simple in ideological terms, on the contrary democracy is very difficult, sophisticated and a long term process. Democracy requires that one must respect my idea and my right to espouse it freely, even though one totally despises what I may have expounded. Let the people be the judge. The only way is my way doesn’t exist in democracy. Therefore, those who invoke democracy must be very careful so not to trample on the rights of others.

It is an unconditional truism that a chronic lack of objectivity and a balanced outlook can not lead into forming a democratic culture. Of all its manifestations democracy requires inclusiveness the most. Irrationality can not supplant thoughtfulness and objectivity. Strive for the higher ground. To be obsessed with the simple and with the lowest common denominator is an unqualified failure.

 

 Amu Abu-Mahla

 09/27/09

amuabu_mahla@yahoo.com