December 25, 2013
Dear Friends and Colleagues;
I want to extend my greetings to all of my friends, my fellow Ethiopian brothers and sisters throughout the world. I am wishing each of you who are followers of Jesus, a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate this most joyous time of the year when Jesus Christ was born, not in a palace or mansion, but in a humble stall.
For those of you who are my very dear Muslim brothers and sisters, I greet you, “Assalaamu Alaykum,” and hope that you may find encouragement, peace in your hearts, protection and blessings in this coming year.
For those who are Jewish Ethiopians, some of you even living in Israel, I say, “Shalom or Peace be with you,” as Hanukah is being celebrated. May God, our creator, bless you, bring you joy, and reveal Himself most powerfully to you this coming year.
For all those precious Ethiopians of other beliefs or who may have no belief, I am hoping that this holiday will be a wonderful and enriching time for each of you, where we can all be reminded of the joy, uniqueness and importance of those around us as they are reminded of the same towards each of us.
Ethiopia is a country of great beauty in its people and in its landscape. As you celebrate this Christmas or holiday with your family, do not forget to think about your greater family, the family of Ethiopians and humanity. Let us remember those less fortunate, those struggling around us due to poverty, hunger or homelessness and those facing extreme hardship in far away places like in South Sudan, in difficult circumstances in the Middle East or in hostile places within Ethiopia where daily survival is complicated by constant life-threatening jeopardy due to threats from an ethnic apartheid regime of the TPLF/EPRDF.Let us also remember those forced into the military or caught up in a destructive system, not knowing how and when to get out—prisoners of conscience and sometimes body, just waiting for the right time to set things right. All of these Ethiopian people are ours and are not forgotten. Let us think about them as we celebrate Christmas.Over the years, we in the SMNE have received thousands of telephone calls and emails from Ethiopians. Through them, we have been so privileged to hear some of these inner, uncensored comments from so many Ethiopians who have touched our heart. We have no adequate words to thank the many of you have blessed and enriched our lives. This may be a difficult job, but one of the most rewarding things about it is receiving words from so many of you. We cannot reach out to every one of you so we are extending our warmest greeting to you and your family, wherever you are.
The “better year” for which we are hoping, will not be possible without our commitment to making changes. In fact, without such changes, Ethiopia faces the possibility of implosion and disintegration. We must face the fact that right now, Ethiopia is dying—literally, as a people, and figuratively, as a nation. If we do not face the desperate urgency of our crisis, we will be so disconnected from reality that we will be unwilling or unmotivated to take action to save the life of this people and nation!
The emphasis must be on our own personal responsibility and personal accountability responding with humanity towards others, as this is where the change must start! This is change that is driven by a change of thinking that comes from leaving behind those attitudes, beliefs, prejudices and ideas that have contributed to the virus that dehumanizes our society that has infected Ethiopia—ethnic hatred, tribal favoritism, selfish ambition, lack of compassion, numbed consciences, the devaluation and abuse of other human beings, violence, pride, deceit, corruption, stirring up division, unhealthy competition, apathy, the expectation of a “hand-out” to take care of one’s own problem or the problems of others rather than taking the initiative and the worship of leaders and demonization of those with whom we disagree
Together, we must handle this fragile ethnic hatred political situation in our beautiful country of Ethiopia with care, spreading principles of love, truth, responsibility, peace, justice and equality from person to person until it brings new light to every dark corner of the country.
May God help all of us Ethiopians to live out these principles so we and others near and far are both blessed in a “ceremony of harmony, peace and inclusion” as we stand for love rather than hate, justice rather than injustice and equality rather than inequality. May God bless you with joy and peace and may each of us pass on these blessings to others in Ethiopia, in the Horn, in Africa and beyond. May God revive and bless Ethiopia.