New years seem to herald new beginnings in all cultures worldwide. There is a huge sense of euphoria and at times seriousness in relation to them. Relatives, friends, neighbors, and even those who appear to be ‘distant’ express to each other best wishes. The first day of a new year seems to beg for a new start in one’s life.
On the 11th of September 2013 (Gregorian calendar), Ethiopia celebrates its new year, 2006. Offices will close and families and friends will visit each other. Although festivities tend to overwhelm the horizon, there is a lot serious business going behind the scene. People plan and plan for the next 12 months. Several promise to quit indulging themselves in bad habits. If one, for any reason, fails to do the planning for themselves, others close to them will ask them to enlist some. Typical plans include those related to quitting smoking or excessive drinking, getting married or engaged, building or buying houses, advancing to the next level of education, getting better jobs, and changing residence. People are expected to change in some ways in new years. Mind the gap though that I am not saying all the planning happens when the new years kick off.
In a way, nearly everyone (I mean an adult) is implicitly expected to reflect upon what happened last year (2005) and what should be done in the new year. This is obviously a very useful habit that needs to be acknowledged encouraged. What seems a pity is that while doing their planning, people tend to focus on their personal lives related to jobs, bad habits, studies, spirituality, and health conditions. Very limited numbers of people tend to make plans related to other decisive aspects of life and living such as freedom, justice, and rule of law. Planning in relation to these national-level services and systems is typically lacking, or at least people do not talk of these kinds of planning in the open.
Reasons for the lack of these kinds of planning at individual level might be diverse but one could identify two major ones. One, we tend to leave this aspect of planning to political parties and the government only. We expect them to offer us complete packages of freedom and justice. Two, many of us tend to think that ensuring democratic governance and freedom is beyond our individual capacity. We assume that we are no body to bring such virtues to the ground.
Whatever the reasons, it is safe to argue that lack of planning at individual level (to ensure human rights) is partly the reason why we ended up with nursing the worst forms of dictatorships for ages. We the masses choose to keep silent when our very natural and constitutional rights are violated by anybody. We are unable to safeguard our rights as we do not have plans to do so. Unless this debilitating scenario is changed, we would continue to suffer from all forms of abuses and violations for the decades to come.
I am calling upon all Ethiopians (those in the Diaspora and at home) to give heed to what they did in 2005 as related to their freedom and the freedom of fellow citizens. Freedom at home, in work places, in friendship relationships, in the cyber world, from indoctrinating media, and from incapacitating and egoistic thinking. By freedom, I mean the state of being able to exercise one's natural and constitutional rights without interference or moderation by anybody or without fear.
If you are serious enough to use your immense potential and succeed in life, ask the following interrelated questions and try to offer to yourself adequate answers. These questions kind of help us to a) evaluate who we are, b) what we are actually doing as human beings daily, and c) identify effective strategies that will protect and defend our very rights in the new year and beyond. If you do not believe in self examination or if you do not believe in the power of the human being to change things around for the better, just escape these questions. Answering these and other questions could be considered useful when it comes to planning for Ethiopian 2006.
- Do you consider yourself a free person?
- How or to what extent do you protect yourself from all forms of abuses and dominations (by your boss, friends, family members, and or any organization)?
- How and to what extent do you express yourself freely and genuinely?
- What do you do if your friend, family member, or boss exaggerates a trivial issue and overlooks an important one in an attempt to sell their argument?
- How often do you try to win your way by exaggerating things or by unethically using your power/position?
- Do you encourage others to seek truth and make decisions accordingly?
- How often do you follow what is happening in Ethiopia?
- How often do you trust your intuition/mind versus your membership or network to judge the credibility and authenticity of media reports?
- How do you react if someone is found to be a victim of unjust rules and decisions?
- Do you think you have something to contribute to ensure the rule of law and democratic governance in Ethiopia?
If your answers to many of the aforementioned questions are mainly unfavorable, you are not a free person. You could consider yourself a prisoner in the open. You decide to recede to pressures of various forms. But it is never too late to figure things out and carve your own territory, a territory that you feel is safe to reside. Make this issue part of your best wishes and plan for the new year.
To me, planning in relation to the Ethiopian new year should also consider our roles in championing democratic thinking and practices, and justice to all fellow Ethiopians. We are over 90 million folks who could make miracles in no time if each one of us protects and defends our fundamental rights at all times and everywhere. Expecting political parties only to establish genuine democracy and the rule of law for us is self-defeating and unrealistic. Even the most democratic organization/party would gradually turn into a killing machine if citizens could not regularly safeguard their own rights. Ethiopia will surely be a lot different if each one of us decides to live freely. I choose to be free forever!