CALL ME BY MY NAME: Solutions with Debteraw, XXVII

Obo Arada Shawl alias Wolde Tewolde – May 13, 2008

Politics is about Addition

Revolution is about Division

Cession is about Subtraction

Nationalism is about Multiplication

EPRP is about Addition and Division

On Meeting

I normally do not attend public meetings especially if I sensed hidden agendas and time bomb. I do not quite understand why hidden agendas will help for advancement or cooperation. Most of the time, on the one hand, while the educated class or elites of Ethiopia practices hidden agendas, on the other hand, the uneducated class of Ethiopians prefers time bomb. What I meant by “time bomb” is that they hold grudge against those who have different opinions for them opinions are not separated from facts and truth. As a result, they wait patiently until their organization or groups or tribes gain control and ready to attack. This is what I call a time bomb, which will blow up in time of adversity. Most Abyssinians belong to this vengeance system. But the educated classes all cling to its hidden agendas when they are short of alternative solutions and lack of freedom.

Let me be an apologist for a moment for EPRP’s hidden agendas and time bomb. Many opponents of EPRP claim that EPRP practice hidden agendas and wait for time bomb. But this is not true. It seems true because politics is about controlling the message. While EPRP was struggling to bring change for all Ethiopians, the people who were in power were using the propaganda (Yabiyen Ekek wede Emye L’kk) of hidden agendas and time bomb propaganda against EPRP. The fact of the matter is that EPRP’s addition via politics and division via Eway Revolution is difficult for many folks to grasp.

Some years back, a personal friend of mine invited me to attend a public meeting of EPRP that was held at 1610 16th street, in Washington DC. The meeting place was a church called “Unification Church.” EPRP getting unified in religious terms! Wow. I did not attend the meeting to analyze EPRP in terms of religion, but here I was inside a church watching a heated presentation about EPRP’s quo vadis (from where to where) and its future struggle.

Starting with the seating arrangement of the EPRP leadership in the open was a bit strange for me. Normally, the collective leadership is conceptualized in a circular table but this one the seating arrangement was hierarchal. Five leadership members sitting in a row and behind them in raised platform two veterans, a patriot and a heroine. This was my first image of collective leadership in a holy alliance. Right there and then, I did not take it to be a political or an organizational meeting. For my self, I perceived the meeting from a religious point of view. Here is why.

On the first row was sitting Ato Iyassu whom I considered as an Apostle

On the second row was seated Ato Mersha whom I considered as a Prophet

On the third row was seated Ato Fassika whom I considered as an Evangelist

On the fourth row was seated Dr. Getachew whom I considered as a Reverend

On the fifth row was seated Dr. Mesfin whom I considered as a Teacher

The main reason why I labeled them as I did was simply not only because of their sitting arrangements and the fact that they were in a church but also because their presentation and analysis of the Ethiopian situation. I have told them in person about my labeling of course, jokingly.

On Religion

Religion is recognition on the part of man of some higher unseen power as having control of his destiny, and as being entitled to worship, obedience and reverence (WOR). Much of traditional organized religion is of the nature, Debteraw used to argue. Debu used to indicate that the tragedy of all religions is that they violate the principles of freedom as soon as they become mass organizations controlled by an ecclesiastical bureaucracy.

The worst thing is that many people have character structures, which are authoritarian and therefore easily fall prey to the large religious organizations. When such people join the church, for instance, they become a part of a great authoritarian structure. They feel that they too now possess the strength of the authority, which in turn gives them a sense of security, even if at the expense of their own integrity.

In authoritarian religion God is a symbol of power and force, whereas in humanistic religion God is a symbol of man’s own powers. The individual who is attracted to the first symbol and internalizes it may find a tentative kind of psychological security, but he will never be an individuated person, a whole mature adult. For genuine maturity a person must embrace humanistic religion.

Debteraw’s faith-love-hope (see call me by my name XII.). A humanistic religion is centered around man and his strength. Man must develop his power of reason in order to understand himself, his relationship to his fellow men and his position in the Universe with God. He must recognize the truth, both with regard to his limitations and his potentialities.

I know Debteraw has developed his powers of love for others as well as for himself and experience the solidarity of all living beings. Debteraw has principles and norms to guide him in his aims. Debteraw’s argument is to achieving the greatest strength, not the greatest powerlessness. He says that virtue is self-realization, not obedience.

In Debteraw’s Ethiopia religion was united as far as loving humanity but separate in structural operation.

Dr. Tesfaye Debessay was Catholic Christian

Debteraw Tsegey is an Orthodox Christian

Engineer Osman was a Muslim

Berhane Meskel Redda was an atheist

Many other leaders of EPRP were Protestants.

This collective leadership used to respect not only their own religions but also their friends religions including their organizational and geographical set up. After all, every one and every body in EPRP must embrace all religions.

The Tesfayes can have a center in Vatican if they want to

The Debteras can have their center at Axum if they desire to

The Osmans can have their center in Mecca if they prefer to

The Berhane Meskels can have the “Communist Party’ as their center if they choose to

The Protestants can embrace the corporate world if they can handle it. By the way, I believe that the current Ethiopian situational crisis have emanated from the corporate religion.

On Conclusion

Notwithstanding about my labeling, what did the collective leadership say during the five-hour meetings?

The Apostle summarized that EPRP is going from “Struggle to struggle” (Ke’Tigle wede Tigle).

The Prophet’s emphasis on EPRP as losing ground.

The Evangelist revealed that words of EPRP is spreading all over the world

The Reverend disclosed about his student presidency during the downfall of the Monarchy of Ethiopia.

The Teacher pleaded to call back all ex EPRP members.

As democracy is only relevant when a group of people want to make decisions collectively for the group, the existence of a group is vital, but issues of its size and composition can raise problems for the success of democracy. Relations within the group are important. When the group is seen as a collective, as a cohesive whole, then decision making will be different from cases where the group is seen as an aggregation of individuals. Reflecting back to what was going on during this important meeting, we should have asked the collective leadership the following questions:

  • Who can put an issue on the agenda?

  • Who can suggest alternatives?

  • Was there informed debate on the issue?

  • Who decides on the options?

  • Are the decisions that are made followed?

Now what has happened? Two of the five or seven collective leadership have withdrawn or walked away from the main stream of EPRP. I can see that the prophet could not predict the future of EPRP and the Reverend could not feed members of EPRP not only physically but also mentally. What a tragedy!

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