By Natnael F. Alemayehu
The Deadly Sins of the Educated Ethiopian
Before you begin reading the article, I urge you to think of not only what is happening today but also the steps after the inevitable revolution. I ask you to question your commitment and what you are prepared to sacrifice for your country. The next critical steps of our nation must be planned, calculated and executed with deliberation. Let us lean from the past and craft a feature inclusive of everything Ethiopia.
The question of: “Who to call in Ethiopia?” or rather, “Whom can Ethiopia call on?” in times of chaos and tyranny has not been answered in recent history. Despite the context of the question, or to whom it might have been directed to, it is imperative that someone capable should answer. If the specific question was ever answered, it was by a few daring individuals who were capable, but not strong enough to withstand the lateral damage caused by those who stood alongside them. Those groups/individuals were educated and capable to answer Ethiopia’s call but not strong enough to unite. I believe we all agree that the educated and those with a voice have to stand up and fight for those who are unable. Throughout the evolution of mankind, at the heart of a country’s economy, development, rise or decline stand those who educated themselves or those who were institutionally educated. Ethiopia is no different, aside from our continued decline, with no return in the hands of the educated/intellectuals. Anyone who keeps in silence is as guilty as those who are causing the problem. Ethiopia is not their country; Ethiopia is OUR country.
This article is not a religious calling of the wrongdoings of our educated or a spiritual teaching of the afterlife. It is an assessment and a crucial observation of the actions by which a person is judged, and to a large degree judges oneself. Ironically, these seven acts occur simultaneously with the deterioration of our nation, enclosed into one deadly human virus and sin, which has plagued our community for far too long. An educated person can be judged unsympathetically if the knowledge he/she attained was wasted on greed and selfish interests. Ironically, Ethiopia has given birth to many of us who have lost our self-worth in pursuit of Westernized “to the top at all costs” education. Her call of “save me” has fallen on deaf ears. Education is as simple as “acquiring knowledge” if we have not educated our selves and those around us to improve on the condition of the past.
We have been trapped in the Western capitalist illusion of greed. It is not money that is the root of evil for us; it is the pursuit of money. We are emotionally unstable, still trapped in the cultural teachings of our ancestors, while living in the west; in pursuance of the almighty dollar. Our inability to work together, listen to differing opinions, express our true selves, share ideas, help the less fortunate, or see the horrors of tomorrow comes from our blindness in wanting what everyone else has. The educated few in our community are guilty of feeding the fire of ignorance that plagues our nation. And so, when asking why Ethiopia’s hopes have been silent, it can be summed up in one answer: GREED. Now, think of those around you. Think far and think long; think of the current and the two previous governments, and think of the individuals who held power. I do realize the traitorous trail we have all left behind and the dangers of going back. But I ask you to look back. What has become of our country and its people?
Institutionalized education has become the decline of our people. In pursuit of written knowledge, we have neglected the ideals and teachings of our people, to which we are more ethically connected. The first lesson to our less educated (who lack global knowledge) is, “a man is born free,” and no one can take that away from you unless you choose to give it up. It is the ability to be free that our people seek, not democracy, socialism, or capitalism. Yet we are blindly stumbling through a fast-changing world, claiming we understand the needs of our people. When have we, as Ethiopians, asked another Ethiopian who is less fortunate, “How can we work together so you are able to help yourself?” We have taken enough from Ethiopia; she is naked and bare because we have not given back what she has sacrificed for us. The more we continue psychologically and physically constructing Ethiopia to be like North America and Europe, the further we dig the grave of her eternal demise. What is it we can do as sons and daughters of Ethiopia to prevent this.
This article is not intended to offend our educated minds, but if you are angry? Good, get mad.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle
I assure you, however, that it is not all doom and gloom. There is hope at the end of that long tunnel we have journeyed for over fifty years. Before we begin to walk towards a new self-realization, we must first rid ourselves of our envy and hate of one another. We must look to our neighbors, in North Africa, to see the impact of the educated minds influencing a nation into change and new beginnings. We must cleanse ourselves of GREED. It is the root and cause of all our national sins. As a country is a representation of its people, the people are a reflection of that nation. As Ethiopians, how have we represented ourselves, and therefore our country?
PRIDE: If curiosity did kill the cat, pride is what has us Ethiopians pondering the afterlife. We are quick to cling to the achievements of our forefathers, and slow to adapt to anything new. We are truly proud people, and that is not all bad, except that in our pride, we have forgotten to actually contribute to the achievement of those who came before us. We are proud to have not been colonized, and yet today, we, more than any other African nation, rely on Western government in the form of foreign aid, famine relief, and debt. As a nation, we are more in debt and behind almost 90% of the countries in Africa in most measurable categories of development. Yet, more aid money goes to our government than to that of any other African Nation. GREED.
ENVY: Those of us in the diaspora, we magnify envy. We are unhappy when someone does something. We are unhappy when someone doesn’t do something. If someone stands up and says something or does something of note, the response from the majority is, “What is he or she trying to prove?” We have programmed ourselves not to be satisfied with anything so we can be envious of everything and everyone.
WRATH: A question I still ask myself: “What is it that we are so mad at each other about?” Hate is a disease. Hate without true cause is a plague. We bully one another, we are power hungry, and worst of all, we steal from the weak. GREED.
SLOTH: Since the majority of us attack those who are doing something, it’s only natural that the same majority would not do anything. Aside from the few who continue their education and try to survive in the West, most of us find easy (lazy) jobs, steal from our workplaces, and live in public housing while cheating government benefits. GREED.
GLUTTONY: In some ways, gluttony is a problem in our community; it is not overeating alone that makes us fat. If we hog resources, if enslave our own people for our personal gain, and we ignore their cry, what have we become? Here is where we have failed to understand our wrongdoing. If you are eating alone after stealing from Ethiopia, you are stealing from your brother and sister. GREED.
LUST: Money has become our secret lust, our “lady in red”. Some have been blinded to the point of no return. They sleep with blood money while they watch children living in sewers, farmers losing their fertile land, and innocent people fleeing the country on foot. GREED.
AVARICE: We have become self-loving, wealth-obsessed Neanderthals. It is this primitive lust of materialistic wealth that has hindered our national development and our individual growth. Need I say more… GREED.
Contrary to poplar believe in our community [“going to school does not necessarily make a person educated, as being poor does not make you uneducated”.]
Despite all of that, all is not doomed. There is hope in the mind of every young child who grows up oppressed and brainwashed that they will one day be educated so that they can recognize the wrong being done to them. Let us be critical when analyzing the educated from the intellectuals; the knowledge of change, new beginning for our nation, must begin with a combination of old and new teaching. It is the intellectuals of their profession who can speak out and evolve the current state of affairs in Ethiopia. Change must be a combination of ideas and actions, crafted from the minds of educated intellectuals, who understand the subject well enough to build a plan capable of surviving the current living and ideological conditions of all Ethiopians in Ethiopia.
The introductory pages of any manifest of Ethiopia’s future must begin with the lives of the poor. Those who are educated must theoretically and in their physical actions view the majority of the country as the heart of both the problem and the solution. Our actions forward must equally involve the views and opinions of those with and without modern institutionalized education. Our financially poor have no formal education; furthermore, their education of honesty, hard work, community sharing, patience and patriotism is being crushed by those of us who seek to teach them our Western ideals, which we view as being superior. A nation is judged by the conditions of the frail and poor, but the answer to the problems facing the same people is the responsibility and duty of those who have been educated.
Institutional education does not make you an intellect; being able to think freely and for yourself makes you an intellect. The source of individual truth is self-education, not the words written by those who choose to educate everyone with the same information, to produce human machines unable to think for themselves. We have institutionally educated ourselves to be ignorant. For one to claim he or she is free, one has to be willing and free to learn and change. We must begin to educate ourselves now!
Let us stop the political rhetoric and tribal idealism. We must educate the poor about current social truths and not political agendas. Knowledge is a gift; let us use it to better the community and ourselves. Without us, there will not be a nation of Ethiopia that is free from global influences. Ethiopia’s next chapter must not be written in political manifestos but in an all-inclusive national ideology. It lies not in democracy and capitalism, but in the underlying freedom of our people.
Even Plato stated in the “Republic”, democracy as a favorite for an unreasonable regime and an ideal means of rule for politicians who could lead by confusing the citizens of a state. In addition he states the rich will remain rich while the poor continue to grow in numbers. Sound like Ethiopia? Let us curb our political ideology and start opening our minds to freethinking.
We must not only wait for civil war to revolutionize our county, or support only armed movements to see social uprising and change. Each and every one of us is responsible and has a place in the change that will come to our nation. Our knowledge is more powerful than a gun. Our love of Ethiopia and all Ethiopians is much more lethal than a bullet.
I am not out to change the world, but I will not sit in silence while my people are being lead to social and economical slaughter. I beg you to ask yourself, “What can I do to constructively change my people?” Question yourself to better understand your purpose and pledge to your country and people. If you are educated, especially in Ethiopia, you have, not only the national but the moral responsibility to speak. Our problem is that many of us attain higher education certificates, but very few of us are truly educated. To use one’s craft to speak and to be heard: that is sacrifice! That is love of one’s country.
If history ever forgives us for what we have done to this country, God will not!
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])