The Old Profession Under Threat In Our Society
THE OLD PROFESSION UNDER THREAT IN OUR SOCIETY
West Virginia University
Politics is an old profession which has been in practice in various ways and means for many centuries. Politics is not only limited to the activities associated with the governance of a country, it also embraces the practice and participation in the affairs of ethnic communities and religious institutions. In the true sense of its meaning, politics is expected to be the realm in which we attempt to realize some of our highest aspirations: our desire for political freedom, our longing for justice, our hope for peace and security. To the contrary, politics is laced with individuals and groups seeking their selfish interests at the expense of others. Politics has been abused, misused and misunderstood in its meaning and purposes. To this effect, the word ‘Politics’ has become the most hated word in our communities and religious institutions. On hearing the word politics, what usually springs to the minds of our society at the present time from what is happening in land, at sea and in the whole world, are the images of animosity, hostility, torture, injustice, atrocities, bloodshed, persecution, execution, corruption, annihilation, destruction chaos, and disorder. In our society we pretend that we know politics when we do not have the slightest idea about the real concept of politics. The following piece of classic political humor from an unknown source, modified to fit to the desired purpose of this article, illustrates the current impression and meaning of politics.
A little boy goes to his dad and asks, "What is politics?" Dad says, "Well son, let me try to explain it this way: I am the breadwinner who runs the family, so let's call me the Governor. Your Mom, under my strict supervision is the administrator of the money. So we will call her the General Manager. We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the Youth. The Nanny, we will consider her the People. And your baby brother, we will call him the Future. Now, think about that and see if that makes sense to you," So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad had said. Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him. He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. So the little boy goes to his parents' room and finds his mother sound asleep. Not wanting to wake her up, he goes to the nanny's room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny. He gives up and goes back to bed. The next morning, the little boy says to his father, "Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now." The father says, "Good son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about." The little boy replies, "Well, while the Governor is busy screwing the People, the General Manager is sound asleep, the Youth is being ignored and the Future is in deep trouble. If this is what Politics means, it really sticks like my baby brother’s diapers.” No wonder, as an unknown author eloquently indicated, politicians and diapers have one thing in common. Both the politicians and the diapers should be changed regularly and for the same good reason.
Politics in the Eritrean communities in Diasporas, if it was not tragic in its manifestation, is like a huge circus where the wild beasts are at play, or a distasteful and boring night club comedy with its amateur politicians and opportunists devoid of humor and sense of purpose. The heavy intoxication and sedation on politics has created misunderstanding and serious confusion, chaos and disorder in the Eritrean communities and religious institutions in Diasporas. Politics have just become a loud noise and created displacement and fragmentation in our communities. All kinds of manifestations of political conflicts and awful contradictions among Eritreans in Diasporas, whether they emanate from differences in faith, ethnicity, ideology, or origin, are but an outcome of immature and narrow political perspectives. There is lack of correct understanding of objective realities and purposes of politics, as well as just outright stupidity which could be considered as a mental disability that requires immediate medical attention. One of the penalties for refusing to participate in the affairs of our ethnic communities and religious institutions is that we end up being led by those who have no idea about the real meaning of politics. In addition, political institutions and Eritreans who claim to be political scholars or expertise have not emerged to enlighten our society on the true sense of politics and consequently politics is not currently rendering its meaningful purpose to the Eritrean society in Diasporas.
Naturally, the main goal of any dialogue on politics or any subject matter is to reach an understanding and/or a consensus among the group undertaking the discussion. Obviously, it is a process of brain storming, mental exercise and intellectual engagement to depart from one point and get to another in order to achieve a clear understanding of an issue. First and foremost the desired objective of the discussion should be clearly defined. In our so-called political discussions the two points are usually undefined and we usually do not know what we are talking about. Our objective is vague and ambiguous; we do not know where we are and we are not sure where we are heading. We argue and argue without passion and with no commonly defined objective reality. We debate with anger and argue with hostility for the sake of argument or simply to be on the opposite side based on personality or affiliation to religion, ideology or region. We debate forcefully to send our message across, but we fail to listen and learn from the other side. We argue mercilessly not to understand, but to win the argument. Under these awful situations consensus and understanding of issues are hard to reach. Instead we create animosity and we carry it home to our spouses and children causing enmity and hostility as we resort on character assassination, name calling gossips, and personal attacks. Another disturbing phenomenon that is developing is the view that approaching these situations with compromise and leniency to maintain the stability and integrity of the society is seen as a sign of weakness or defeat. Among some of us there is no neutrality or middle ground to take. Consideration of understanding and concession does not exist because our extremist groups who undermine the objective of the debate have no interest in consensus and resolution. Such notorious individuals or groups have to win the debate or make the other person’s life miserable under any circumstances. We have to be aware that we can still be true Eritreans without being nasty or involved in dirty politics. Otherwise, our scandalous actions can be considered as an insult, in fact as a serious crime, if we do injustice to the noble profession of politics.
The majority of the political debate in our communities seriously lacks points of reference or direction. Most people argue an issue by considering the standards within the American or European norms and values. Some of us talk while only considering the standards within the international norms and values. The norms and values that we use in our dialogue as points of reference are not defined clearly within an Eritrean perspective. Without knowing or having a good grasp of those indigenous norms and values within the standards of the Eritrean perspective, we debate endlessly with no resolution. In most instances, the lack of references within the Eritrean context, coerce most people to use the standards of the host nation that they reside, whether it is in America, Europe, Australia, or the Middle East. Consequently, it makes our Political discourse very argumentative, chaotic and senseless because it is not based on the indigenous norms and values that reflect the Eritrean perspective. In addition, our political discourse also lacks specificity in terms of the issues we try to address at certain point in time. Obviously, it is very hard to limit the discussion to one issue or the other, particularly among many of us who have very limited understanding of politics. It is commonly observed that if one issue is opened for a fair discussion, it would be polluted with so many unrelated nuisances and the debate ends up with arguments and insults. If you present a political issue to a group of friends and even relatives at Dunkin donuts, or Starbucks, the majority of the responses will focus trading unpleasant words to you totally devoid from the point of discussion. Whether intentional or unintentional we have the attitude and the habit of clouding and diluting any issue with unrelated issues. Thus, it is hard to discipline ourselves to focus on the specific topic or issue at hand and give an objective and honest view point pertinent to that topic without being distracted by petty issues. At the present time it is ridiculous to observe that we seem to be running away from each other for political disagreements. Many of us cannot be in the same room at the same time to attend a seminar, or eat food on the same table, or see eye to eye to each other and carry on a normal conversation like civilized people. Some of us even go to Greek or Egyptian church to worship when there is an Eritrean church in the same neiborhood. We have created an awkward situation among ourselves where we cannot join hands and work together as Eritreans. Eventually, our Eritrean society in Diaspora, which is currently in deep crisis, may soon extinct and disappear forever as a society, if we do not get our acts together to safeguard and secure our Eritrean identity. We need to change our morality and way of thinking in terms of the attitude we show towards each other and the welfare of our society.
Political disagreement is a natural phenomenon everywhere in any society especially nowadays when the world is in turmoil due to terrorism, economic hardship, social unrest, and political threats. Eritreans in Diasporas are polarized across so many dubious political and social issues more than ever. The sole means to resolving our political differences is to identify ourselves and stand tall as Eritreans first and then we need to develop tolerance, respect for one another, and cherish our perspectives, cultural heritage, ethnic identity, and to recognize our beautiful rainbow diversity. Most Eritreans in Diasporas need to shy away from politics because we do not have the expertise in politics. We may be well aware that it may look impossible to dissociate the political issues from the social and economic issues. Unless we believe that we have the political maturity and determination to make a difference and promote understanding in our political dialogue, it is in the best interest of our communities and religious institutions to stay away from politics and concentrate on things that make a practical contribution to the welfare of our society. For most of us, instead of bickering quarreling, and wasting our precious time on gossips and dirty politics, we need to have broad popular participation in all other non-political affairs that bring us together and influence our lives and particularly the lives of our children. There is an urgent need to exercise prudence against the tampering of the cherished traditional values, norms, cultures, and history of our people. The youth need to meet the challenge of developing a progressive ethnic culture and combat negative influences in their lives. If, through our communities and religious institutions, we map out concrete and clear social programs aimed at ensuring a bright future for our youth based on collective efforts and welfare, the challenges that lie ahead for them are not insurmountable. Let us “Save the Children” not from famine, diseases, hunger or starvation, but from the failures and irregularities of parental care and from the influence of dysfunctional and disintegrated communities and the senseless and irresponsible political quarrels and conflicts Our children are our priorities because they are the majority in our society and the ones who are expected to cherish our cultural heritage and honor our Eritrean identity in Diaspora. This obligation should prompt the Eritrean scholars and professionals to take immediate responsibility and commitment to organize and maintain viable and formidable Eritrean communities and actively participate in the activities of our religious institutions. It is incumbent on these Eritrean institutions and parents to produce and nurture our next generation with noble responsibility and unwavering affiliation to their own people. It is quite evident from our experiences that our communities and religious institutions in Diaspora desperately need our commitment and active participation in saving our children from our political nonsense and illness.
We, all Eritreans in Diasporas, need to work together to build our communities and religious institutions so that we can preserve our cultural heritage and cherish our ethnic identity. Every one of us is defined and identified by the kind of ethnic communities and religious institutions we belong to. We should all exercise our God-given gift of life to build hope, moral, integrity, and quality of life for our children. If we unite and work together, success is inevitable. We can learn to work together as brothers and sisters, or perish together as fools. If we collect the bricks together and put each brick on top of the other, we can lay down the solid foundation for the next generation. This summer, we all need to get out of our hiding places and get involved in the activities of our respective communities and religious institutions to make a difference in the lives of our children who happen to be the anchor of our social fabric.
The picture above symbolizes building our Communities and Religious Institutions by putting each brick on top of the other.
Then what are we waiting for? It is always a blessing to do something meaningful that is directed to the welfare of our own people, particularly our beloved children. Let’s remember that what we do for ourselves alone dies with us; what we do for our people remains immortal forever.
ክትመውት እንከለኻ፡ አቲ ትገድፎ ብድሕሬኻ፡ጥራይ እዩ ትወስዶ ምሳኻ
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