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The prison with in – By Mastewal Yideg

12 mins read

medrekI am not a supporter of any political party in particular yet. I wanted to write this because I am tired of being disappointed in the so called leaders of our country and opposition parties.  I have absolutely no trust in most of these people. I am used to hearing opposition leaders say things that made me believe they were the real deal, but once they are in power or if they feel like the power is within reach, their real motives start to reveal themselves.  The leaders who were supposedly united at one point start to turn on each other all of a sudden. The UDJ leaders, with the exception of one person in my opinion, can be one example.

As you all know, except for a handful of people, almost all politicians don’t even try to acknowledge a single accomplishment of the person or the party they are running against or those “on the other side of the aisle”. This might make me sound like I am naïve or somewhat detached from reality, but the way I see it, when politicians fail to recognize the other party’s positive contributions or initiatives, they are set out to make their own image appear perfect by means of making their opponents look bad all the time. This is not to say that they shouldn’t stand for what they believe or fight injustice.
For example, I completely agree with those who believe EPRDF’s human right policy is ridiculous and the world should know that. I strongly believe Eskinder Nega and other political prisoners must be released without any preconditions. They don’t have to apologize for exercising their rights. The Supreme Court’s recent dismissal of their appeal is unacceptable. I hope EPRDF leaders will come to their senses and release all political prisoners as soon as possible for their own sake. If they are stubborn and decide to stick with the status quo, there days are numbered. Either way, I don’t believe the prisoners will stay locked up for long.
On the other hand, I personally support some of the infrastructure improvements that are taking place regardless of whose ideas they are.  I know some people are against the removal of Abune Petros’s statue as I was until they said they will put it back after the project is completed. And yet some people are still against it. Am I missing something? I am really willing to understand why. I read Yilma Bekele’s “Abune Petros in Our Heart” on Ethio Media’s website and I think it is premature to come to the conclusion that it’s been removed permanently. In fact he went as far as criticizing the people for not protesting. Why don’t we wait and see? I wonder what he’d say if they bring it back?
As I mentioned in my introduction, most of todays “leaders” seem to have hidden motives. My question is, aside from that why do politicians apply this “If you are my opponent you are always wrong” rule all the time? Could one of the reasons be that their constituents or a certain group of people would find it unacceptable if it is otherwise?
Which brings me to my point: One thing I am having a hard time understanding is the way in which we label people who do not agree with us partially or completely. Those of us who are fortunate enough to experience living in a world where democracy means democracy should know better.
The way we respond to comments and opinions about an issue, a person, or a party says a lot about how much we understand the concept of “Human Right”, the one thing we cry for day in and day out.
If I say I want democracy on one hand and at the same time label someone as diehard supporter of a certain party just because that individual suggests we should recognize the positive accomplishments of the other party on the other hand, I am nothing but a hypocrite.
If I say I believe in freedom of speech on one hand and at the same time ban someone from participating in my forum just because that individual didn’t stay within the acceptable parameter when sharing his or her views on the other hand, I am nothing but a dictator.
My point is, I can support any party and anyone and everyone should respect that as much as they want me to respect what they stand for and vise-versa.
In my view, all this name calling and our inability to move past our differences is one of the main reasons which has been holding us from moving forward as a nation.
Think about it! How do I expect someone to listen to my opinions or respond to my demands if all I do is criticize him or her? Why do we get surprised if they become stubborn and unwilling to listen? Instead of bringing the best, we are bringing the worst in each other.
Some of us have built a big prison in our heart (A prison with in) and threw many people in there just because they expressed their opinions which are different from ours. Some are in there just because they said “let’s recognize the positive sides of our opponents.”
The question is: Are those who do not agree with us prisoners of ours? If we don’t respect the rights of others to express their views, isn’t it safe to say we will do the exact same thing EPRDF is doing today if we have the opportunity to be in their shoes tomorrow?
The same way we want EPRDF to release those who didn’t agree with them, we should release those who do not see things our way from the prison with in and stop discouraging them from sharing their ideas.
“Brave Ethiopians in London confronted Lidetu Ayalew at a public meeting on Nov. 21, 2010.”
Brave? Really?  What is so brave about being indecent and acting uncivilized? The words and the body languages these “Brave” people used were unbelievable.  They had every right to disagree with him and the issue is not why, but how.
I understand why some people are bitter and have nothing but negative things to say about the current government because may be they have family members, friends, … etc. who have been killed or thrown in jail. I understand where they are coming from and if I was in their shoes, I’d probably say the same thing. So, I don’t have a problem with letting them vent and we should.
The point is, we, the people, have the power to solve many of today’s problems and make it easier for leaders to focus on other important issues rather than wasting time telling us what we want to hear.
May be this is one of the reasons why today’s politicians are afraid to point out their opponents accomplishments.
By the way, this applies to those media outlets who keep adding fuel to the fire by reporting only the negative aspects of a particular party polices or initiatives instead of taking a more balanced approach. Their reports and discussions for the most part sound like they are quid pro quo for the support of a certain group of people or parties.
May be there backs are against the wall and there supports would be offended if they try to be fair.
I believe all of us, except for a few bad apples, want our country to prosper. We want the world to stop using Ethiopia as an example for hunger. We want to make sure our fathers who gave their lives fighting foreign invaders to preserve the sovereignty of our country didn’t die in vain. And we want to make Ethiopia the best place to live for the future generation. The only way we can achieve this is if we can manage to bring the best in each other.
Finally, though very few, I would like to acknowledge those leaders who have good and pure intentions, who tried their best to bring peace and create a platform for reconciliation. It may seem as if your efforts didn’t pay off. Some of your partners and supporters who were enthusiastic in good times may have thrown you under the bus when things didn’t go the way they planned.  I am very thankful for those who stuck by you in your darkest hours. I am certain someday you will see the fruit of all the sacrifices you’ve made and we will NEVER forget what you did.
Cher Yigtemen!
Mastewal  Yideg