Wise people learn from the mistakes of others, clever ones from the own and fools continue to repeat the same mistakes, and live in abject poverty and misery.
This is the time of Christmas, family get together and the season when the desire to make progress towards peace on earth at individual and collective level. Takes a special meaning.
Peace is not the mere absence of war, distress and terror but the desire to work towards creating an environment for responding to the challenges and opportunities for peace, security and prosperity.
At the outset, I would like to declare that I am for sustainable security, good governance, and progressive prosperity for all.
All our activities, be it at spiritual, emotional, psychological, social, physical and intellectual level, should have the deliberations and integrity for sustainable security, good governance and progressive prosperity. That means deliberations and consultations and effective scientific and spiritual decision-making process, worthy of a wise people, stable nation and the oldest civilization on earth.
When short cuts or activities emerge that do not match or respect our multicultural, diverse history, potential, and sense of justice and integrity, we need to speak up.
The issue is about the integrity of the process of dialogue, the agenda, the mechanism for seeking the truth, facts and the proportional response be it remorse, penance, reparations, forgiveness and eventual reconciliation, etc.
It does not matter if that the threatening proposal comes from a military junta, peasant rebels or so called latent spiritual or religious leadership or well meaning spiritual fathers, etc . We need to deliberate, take our time and challenge it with dignity, intelligence that is supported with qualitative and quantitative analysis of its impact in the immediate, short and long term of our individual and collective sustainable security, good governance and progressive prosperity.
Remember: We had forty years so far, what is the rush for now?
I believe the nations’ security, health and well being is not just the mere absence of sickness , crime or disease, spiritual and temporal chaos, but the positive deliberative promotion of our spiritual, psychological, social and physical wellbeing and individual at collective level.
The recent call for action or rather campaign for the forgiveness of the Derg Criminals has created a series of stress, concern and frustrations among the Ethiopian people at home and Diaspora.
Why deliberate in secret for two years and now rush for a 30 days marathon of forgiveness and new assumed renaissance?
We need to be deliberative, consultative in studying the past, analyzing the present and chartering a better future.
We are all spiritual, emotional, psychological, social and physical beings who need to have a holistic and integrated approach to all our activities and decisions. Especially after some forty years of chaos and terror.
Wise people forgive but do not forget, yes, they remember to trust but ensure to verify similar errors will not be repeated again in the future too! At the end of the day, it is balance of trust, security and verification of the due process is in place so that similar errors do not recur.
Some of us will be fast to forgive, others deliberative looking for assurances of integrity, honesty and most of all planned positive outcomes.
We need to take every one together and not be judgmental in our deliberations! We need to respect those who question motives and process!
The recent spiritual call, social campaign and declarations of renaissance based on forgiving the military junta that killed a generations is worth examining carefully regardless of its good intentions its ramifications and potential short and long term implications.
We just managed to show the world, that we are capable of recovering from such genocide by holding the fifth conference on the forum of federalism based on the unique balance of multi-culturalism, devolution of power to states and respecting the diversity in unity of our people. We did not ask for the permission of the perpetrators of the most heinous crime to succeed and why should they demand our immediate forgiveness for their assumed renaissance they could not bring when they were in power.
Our religious leaders need to verify that they will not abandon their responsibilities as they did for the past almost 40 years of chaos!
There was no religious leader to be found to stand up to these same criminals and now how did they get the courage is my question! Is this part of the same role they played for the past 17 years acceding to all the demands of the revolutionaries when they cut of the conscious of the nation or a serious attempt to catch up with the fever of renaissance that is being unleashed on our nation by our gallant sons and daughters!
Are they responding to the Derg (perpetrators) request alone or there are serious request from the victims save the pronouncements of my dear friend Mulugeta Asrate Kassa whose opinion I respect ! Yes, let us forget, but let us get some atonement, penance, reparation and commitment that the past will not be repeated in the future too!
Just imagine if the new set of lieutenants plan another set of genocide like the Generals of Guinbot & tried just a year ago. Nigeria is the best example of a series of military coup d’états that paralyzed the moral and civil consciousness of the people for decades.
Where are the transparency and accountability and responsiveness to the needs of the victims first?
The legal process of justice for the past 20 years and all the documentation my research has shown does not reveal any has remorse from the criminals!
In fact, their outlets like Ethiomedia, Ethiopian Review have been hosting Mengistu’s memoires and upcoming book that shows no remorse at all. Forget the then Serto-Ader editors and modern VoA and Netsanet spokespersons of the Derg who continue to sing the old revolutionary songs none stop for the past 20 years in Diaspora.
We have these groups demanding sanction on Ethiopia, and HR2003 is still pending in the Senate and their new recruits of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, American Chronicle and now the new buffoon Thomas Mountain of Iranian Press Review are at it all the time!
It is in this environment that this Pardon, cum Forgiveness without Justice, Remorse, and atonement is coming our way with 30 days deadline! Whose program and design is this? Is this the deliberate will of our people or that of the old military junta leaders who failed in their appeals and court hearings!
I want pardon and forgiveness based on penance and remorse! Where is the remorse, the truth and acceptance of guilt? Why it took so long and why is it so secreative and urgent now?
Let us reason and dialogue with honesty and integrity!
Most importantly this is not wise!
The issue at hand is our ability to differentiate between justice, pardon, mercy , atonement, reparation, penance, and forgiveness and reconciliation. Each of these words have a series of events and sequences attached to them.
The most critical issue is who is initiating them, under what conditions and who are involved and who are the active participants and eventual stakeholders.
The plan, process, outcome and result need to be owned by all of us!
The military junta in the person of Mengistu Haile Mariam, unilaterally, without any deliberation and consultation with the stakeholders, suspended our individual and collective consciousness and took a series of heinous criminal activities for over seventeen years without consulting the legal and moral authorities of our civilization. Now, we should not repeat the same.
The current set of proposal seem to be responding to the criminals demand for rehabilitation, rather than the deliberate will of the individual ad collective social, moral and legal authorities of the nation, both at home and in Diaspora.
The process is highly flowed, as it was being deliberated by few people for over two years and these so called leaders did not consult their constituencies in a transparent and accountable and responsive manner for over two years. It caught every one by surprises, except few people in the know.
The problem is not only in the content of the message which is a mixture of pleas and campaign and even some form of spiritual and messianic order of things to come.
Every body or the selected few have barely one month to respond to this and any ways, there are 500 people selected to represent the 500,000 who perished and the reconciliation will go ahead with the declaration of renaissance any way by the end of December 2010.
We have taken almost forty years to come to this why are we in a hurry now?
The process sucks to say the least. No consultation, preparation and no responsiveness to the feelings of all concerned. It is not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic and Time Sensitive).
Jesus said…lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil, just after he said, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. I am for forgiveness but I am concerned about what follows, the temptation to repeat the same mistakes and the lack of delivery from the evil one!......
So, what about sustainable Security, Good Governance and Progressive Prosperity!
These issues need to be addressed at individual, collective level as well as at state and social governance level. Good governance is about transparency, accountability and responsiveness to the stake holders.
The church, mosque, synagogues, eretchas, abadirs, etetes, etc need to be deliberative and consultative in all its dealings when it tries to breach the issue of church and state. The constitution is very clear about the respective role of religion and governance.
The church, mosque and synagogues of Ethiopia have first to apologize themselves as they failed in their spiritual leadership for over 40 years both during the Derg and EPRDF years by not standing up for the truth and for justice.
Now after almost 40 years lapse of leadership they want to exercise their moral and spiritual authority, and they miss the larger part of consulting with God and their constituencies.
What do the Scriptures say about Pardon, Mercy, atonement, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The most critical ingredient is truth, penance and the insurance or security that our society will never repeat the madness that was initiated by the Derg criminals.
Yes, I want to inherit both the earth and heavens but not in a short cut or via flowed assumptions, but through deliberations, dialogue and reasoning that honors the very God who asks us to forgive so that we are forgiven!
Please do not insult our intelligence that is part of our individual and collective spirituality, morality, and consciousness that demands for transparency, accountability and responsiveness to all our stakeholders.
Spiritual leaders have to be transparent and accountable as well as responsive to their consciousness and faith.
Remember: Jesus said, Our father who are in heaven, hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who tress pass against, lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil….
I am concerned that we should not be led into the temptation and will loose the ability to be delivered from evil, if he do not deliberate, reason and most of all seek the will of our people, friends and our Divine Universal Connection.
We have to study the past, understand the present to charter a better future for us all. That process starts with deliberations, reasoning and collective decision making that takes the interests and future of us all!
Remember: It is worth consulting and deliberating all our citizens, especially those victims who continue to suffer dearly!
In the end, forgiveness, pardon and salvation is a person thing and individual issue, yet it has the ability to bless us all collectively, if done in a way that is transparent, accountable and responsive to our common sense of justice and fairness.
I look forward to learn from your alternative perspective and perceptions.
Belai Habte-Jesus , MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc
703.933.8737; 571.225.5736; efx:202.3188277
We must live for the future, and not for the past or in the past.
Mulugeta Aserate Kassa
15th December 2010
The news that former Derg officials – those who are currently serving life in prison and those in death row - have requested leaders of Ethiopia’s main religions to act as intermediaries in their quest to say sorry to the people of Ethiopia, has been greeted with mixed feelings in Europe and America where thousands of victims of Derg’s nightmarish rule reside, ironically, side by side with those former Derg henchmen who had hunted and hounded Ethiopians. Accordingly, Tehasas 16th (Gregorian Christmas Day) has been pencilled in for the Group of Religious Leaders to make a nation-wide appeal with the hope of securing a consensual agreement to forgive perpetrators of unprecedented heinous crimes. It takes a wise Derg to say sorry, and even a wiser Ethiopian to forgive As a people, seldom have we been confronted with such an emotive issue as this one; primarily because it demands from us a willingness to let go our pent-up feelings of hate, anger and resentment, consent to let bygones be bygones and, most crucially, to give in to a national consensus where the common good is best served. The whole world would be watching how we handle this sensitive issue: are we going to act like responsible citizens of a nation which is at peace with itself and out-South-Africa-South-Africa by forgiving those who committed untold acts of criminality? Or are we going to condemn our nation and people to wallow in an endless cycle of bouts of revenge? Allow me, if you will, therefore, to share you my own experience in forgiveness, so that those who may be shilly-shallying on whether or not to forgive the former Derg members will at least be able to err on the side of caution. I had followed the fate of the former Derg members with rapt attention, and had been present at their major court hearings. I did so because I had filial obligation to witness the outcome of those who had ordered the summary execution of my dear father. Not only that, my mother, myself, my two brothers and two sisters were also made victims of Derg’s misrule as we were imprisoned for 15 years and 9 years respectively. It was during the course of my incarceration, then, that I came to realise the need to forgive – however trying an experience it may be – those who robbed me of a wonderful dad and my invaluable freedom. Forgiveness must be apolitical, as it is not expected to be found in party political manifestoes. It is one of the pillars of one’s faith. And it was through my Christian faith that I discovered that my reconciliation with my creator and redeemer was entirely dependent on my willingness to forgive others. It is true that when the former Derg members were sentenced to only life in prison in 2007, I did tell Radio Fana, “This sentence is a mockery of justice and called for the death penalty.” I was not stupefied by a longing for a vendetta when I said what I said at the time, but rather was expressing my desire to see the former Derg members receive the maximum penalty available in Ethiopia’s Penal Code. Besides, I never lost sight of the fact, then, that the mere fact that a death sentence was passed did not necessarily mean that they would be killed, as the President has the prerogative to commute the death sentence. It is also true that I have had run-ins with former ‘kakitocrats’ in London in 2004/2005. This, as I have repeatedly stated at the time, had nothing to do with harbouring grudge, but had everything to do with refusing to kow-tow to the exiled Derg. Blessed are the peace makers, for the shall be called the children of God In July 2007, I had the good fortune and ‘honour’ of being consulted on this particular issue by H.H. Abune Paulos I, Patriarch of Ethiopia. I humbly told His Holiness that firstly I can only speak for myself as I don’t represent anyone else, and secondly I echoed the answer I gave to the BBC’s Addis Ababa correspondent minutes after the life in prison sentence was passed in 2007: “As a Christian I forgive, but as an Ethiopian I don’t forget.” To some – who know not that a gulf exists between to forgive and to forget – this statement of mine may appear conflicting; but the truth remains that it is not an oxymoron. Basically, what our respective religious leaders are asking us now is not – and can not be – to forget our trials and tribulations, as well as to forget our “blood, sweat and tears,” but to forgive for the sake of the common good, for peace and reconciliation. We owe it to Ethiopians who are rearing up to secure growth and transformation. Do it, too, for Ethiopia and proclaim to the world “We did it our way!” God Bless Ethiopia