If there must be war in Ethiopia…
A prisoner of conscience for many of the past 15 years, Eskinder Nega smuggled out the following plea from his detention in Addis Ababa.
If not in how my incarcerators have treated me, then in how I have been handed by government sponsored trolls on the internet, this episode of my eleven years (and counting) imprisonment under a series of false charges is a novel experience. Gone are days of yore, where the dignity of those who experienced suffering and our empathy for their trials was universally acknowledged.
Enter our present times, where any would be noble martyr has been transfigured into a public joke, a caricature of the ultimate attention seeker. But while the dethronement of wannabe martyrs may be desirable, the concomitant assault against empathy in the public domain is profoundly troublesome.
Consider the two sides of Ethiopia’s ongoing internal war. Beginning in trickles and then in flood like thrust came stories of impending famine, mass murders and gang rapes in all the conflict zones of Ethiopia’s three northern regions – Tigray, Amhara and Afar. And while limitations imposed by lack of access to the conflict zones blurs the full picture, human rights organisations have been able to verify a series of gross rights violations by all the belligerents.
But none of these chronicles of callous cruelties – against children, women, the elderly – has transcended the political divide and resonated with the other side. Tears have indeed been shed, petitions signed, and rallies held, but always unwaveringly for one’s side, never the other.
This is not who we are. When did we lose our empathy? I remember a time when we prayed side by side, when we fought under the same flag, when we laughed and cried together, when we joyed over and ate our harvests as one, when we tied our children in matrimony, when we whispered our secrets and dreams to each other, when were our brothers’ keepers.
Do we know what we have now become? There is more to us than mere “I shall look, hear, speak no evil about my side”. For now, we insist gawping, laughing, mocking, and denying the suffering on the other side. And I fear too few of us will pass a chance for a cute selfie with a victim on the other side. We have become a spectacle to the world, shocking for our lack of empathy for the plight of our fellow citizens, our fellow humans. We must change. We must change for our sake.
We must change to sustain our humanity, our conscience, our soul. No victory is greater than the God embedded morals in our hearts. Of the numerous lessons of history, none is greater than the knowledge the end, however noble, never justifies the ignoble means. Only at our peril do we fail to heed this caution against moral permissiveness. In change lies our only hope.
We cannot and must not deny that the two sides do not have moral and political equivalence. One side is on the right and the other not. One side needlessly fired the first shots and the other had no choice but to shoot back. One side fight to preserve and the other to shatter a nation. And we know one side strives to hate more than the other. We also know on which side history stands.
But ultimately, true victory will not be secured on the battlefront alone. For there are multiple fronts. There is victory to be secured in the legacy we leave behind, in the stories we tell our children, in the pages of history, in the deep interiors of our conscience, in the face of our creator who hears and sees all, who knows the entire breadth and depth of our secret desires, thoughts and deeds. It is better not to wage war.
But if it is an absolute necessity, let it be on terms of a just war. Such is just war: a war where empathy has a place, a humane war as far as possible, a war without hate, a war without vengeance, a war without triumphalism.
If there must be war, let it be war for peace, for love, a war to end war.
He forgot, to say through war!
if there must be war, let it be war for peace, for love, a war to end war (through war)?!
What is this moron rambling about, our country is in danger of balkanization by a Western backed terrorist group that designed this toxic ethnic federalism that has polluted our social fabric. TPLF wanted to destroy our country since the beginning if they couldn’t rule the centre, and America has helped and continues to help that terrorist group.
Dear Eskinder Nega, we are indirectly through proxy at war with the United States, a global superpower. We have no need for your useless rambling!
Really great article the idea disease of us and them has taken root in Ethio. The end cannot be good
Eskinder Nega is a great materialistic who is
ready to distablize , his Country by hiding
under the Umbrella of ” Journalist , Politician
and blogger” , which all of them are self proclaimed & non academically supported as it was always been in Africa.
He is promoting ethnic based Propoganda
with his like minds , ” Ethio 360″ Media which
works for Ethiopian historic enemies.
Funded by Egypt & others who embarked
on direct & Proxy war in Ethiopia, Eskinder
Nega , Ermias Legesse and Habtamu are working hard to fail the Abiy Government
which released them from torcherous TPLF
Ethiopians won & the next generations will have a stable Country known as the great
Kingdom of Ethiopia which is established
on true democratic principles and elections.
“The dogs are barking and the Camels are not
stoping from moving foreward”.
Great message. I strongly think we need level headed citizens like you. I do not know why you are still in prison but I hope you will be free soon, the nation needs words of wisdom. I am sorry that some have misunderstood you from the comments above.
“But if it is an absolute necessity, let it be on terms of a just war. Such is just war: a war where empathy has a place, a humane war as far as possible, a war without hate, a war without vengeance, a war without triumphalism…”
From your article I hear hope and peace for Ethiopia. It is sad that people from different parts are now referring to each other as enemies. All of this because of a few bad apples doing everything to drag the. Nation to mayhem we’ve seen elsewhere.
God bless you.
Eskinder, I used to admire you standing toward freedom and justice in Ethiopia. Now, you have missed so many information about the country reality. The so called TPLF terrorist groups decided to go to hell to destroy Ethiopia. The Tigray people are under the threat of this groups to give under age children to protect the terrorist. Ethiopians are not at war with the Tigray people, instead with the terrorist..,.
On e Country, one People, One Leader -that is Dr. Abiy Ahemed Ali ( Ethiopias Albert Einstein)!!!