December 3rd, 2009 Print Print Email Email

“What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we really mean is a sense of national responsibility: a patriotism, which is not too short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil & steady dedication of a lifetime for us all”. – (Adlai Stevenson).

Dear readers, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” said Mahatma Gandhi? “We are not building this country of ours for a day, it is to last through the ages” remarked Theodore Roosevelt too? Why? To be patriotic is to be inspired by the love for one’s Motherland, love of one’s Birthplace and complete devotion to its safety and protection. Life is born, sustained upon and from the land on which we lived. We were brought into life by birth and keep on going by the land on which most of us deprive to live in since the Derg and Woyane came in and ruled the country by brute forces. One of life’s essential support systems is water, sustained and held on land and housed within land’s cavities on which we live. Life is sustained by Air, which rises from the sea waters housed on the land on which we live. Therefore, I ask you Fellow Ethiopians, is it not really an act of Patriotism, to love and protect our Motherland and/or our environment for that matter too? Freedom and Living Free have a direct coalition with health and healthy environment. The alliance between being Patriotic and being an Environmentalist is one of the secret bonds, which ensures freedom and prosperity for all in any country. The very honest and good patriotic people are those who think globally and act locally, with the goal of a clean Planet Earth for all. We are a family of the world but first and foremost we are obliged to save ETH.

Hence to be patriotic is not to wear an Ethiopian flag or scream symbolic hollow gestures like Long Live Ethiopia on the streets and on political podiums all the time. We have very corrupt, criminal and unpatriotic individuals who selfishly and purposely destroyed our environment by driving gas-guzzling SUV trucks and dumping chemical, biological and nuclear wastes into the land, water and air, all of which are essential life sustaining ingredients that we need for survival. Based on the above definition of patriotism, it won’t be that difficult to find one’s place in today’s world and define oneself as a true patriot. Are you a patriot? President Lyndon B. Johnson, upon signing The Wilderness Act of 1964 said, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of our technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it”. That in a sense is true patriotism, which is expected of us too? So, are we going to leave a good legacy for the next generation of Ethiopians or only fighting each other to fill our bid, greedy (Hodam) bellies as the late Professor Asrat rightly put it and all our other very selfish and greedy desires while robbing the poor Ethiopian taxpayers, farmers and looting the nation’s wealth? As Kahlil Gibran once said too, are you a politician or an individual really, who says to himself or herself, “I will use my country for my own benefit” or die for it if and when necessary?

Or are you a devoted patriot, who whispers in your inner self and says, “I love to serve my country as a faithful servant?” C’mon, stop telling me utter lies: you could not even sign a petition that others created, let alone serve mother Ethiopia? Each Ethiopian must for himself and she alone decide what is right and what is wrong in life, which course is really true patriotism and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man or a woman. And of course, an Ethiopian too? Oh, no you can’t. “A thoughtful mind, when it sees a Nation’s flag, sees not the flag only, but the Nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the Government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the Nation that sets it forth” said, Henry Ward Beecher from The American Flag. But when Meles Zenawi seized power and saw an Ethiopian Nation’s flag, he said to the entire nation and the world, this is “Ye-Chew Mequateria Cherq” and wanted to change it to TPLF’s flag. That was when we were all humiliated. But did we do anything about it? No!

Do not say you do not have enough time like some who called us Bozene and other names for working hard to inform, educate, unite and mobilize the public against murderers and traitors. Yes, I too write these things not only when I am sitting in front of my PC at work and or at home but also while travelling and even having my meals. I only sleep 3/4 hours in 24 hours most of which spent for my country too. Hence no matter what, you too, if you are real patriots, have exactly the same number of working hours per day that were given by God to me, and Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Nelson Mandela, Thomas Jefferson & Albert Einstein. Yes, Kelib Kaleqesu Enba Ayigedm therefore, cut down watching rubbish and brainwashing foreign videos, dirty movies, gallivanting around Mesheta Bet and give five minutes to pray or work for your country. Also, Enqilf Atwudedu … Lewusham Minim Alteqematimna? “We have the power to change our world. It is not an issue of whether or not can we make a difference. The truth is that we do make a difference. Everything we do, say, and think shapes our reality. It is time that we join our bodies, minds, hearts, spirits, and voices and call for peace on the Earth and peace with the Earth. Please get involved in whatever ways you can, but please, do it now. The legacy of all life depends on it”. That good remark was by Julia “Butterfly” Hill. Ethiopians need it too now than before.

Hence patriotism is a complex and sometimes controversial subject. People have different ideas about what it is and how to express it. My own concept of patriotism used to be rather narrow: Love of my country Ethiopia, be a good citizen, enjoy our culture, food, and traditional patriotic music. But patriotism is much broader than that. Therefore, most people think that patriotism is a virtue. Or at least, that’s what’s suggested by a quick glance at the political world and the popular media in very many countries around the world. Most politicians too are particularly keen to be regarded as patriotic. Never the less, I think that many politicians would rather be called cowardly, selfish or corrupt than patriotic or unpatriotic. And in everyday life, it seems as though you’re usually offering a compliment when you call someone a patriot, and as though patriotism is usually thought of as something that we should wholeheartedly foster in our children and ourselves all the time.

Patriotism, in the popular imagination, may not quite rank alongside kindness, justice, temperance and the like, but in a true sense, it’s a virtue nonetheless; it’s a character trait that the ideal person would possess. Unfortunately, all too many Ethiopians these days, continued to put their blind faith in the political parties, believing that their officials, like pagan Gods, know what’s best for the Ethiopian people and are only acting in their best interests. Hence what we need in our country is a great awakening, in which the Ethiopian people realize the fake, false, and destructive goods they’ve been fed by these selfish & flirting politicians. That will be the day when Ethiopians cause our nation to change course away from backwardness, division & perpetual conflicts and move in the direction of liberty, peace, democracy, prosperity, and harmony. If that can be done, our country does have a unique place in human history. We have done a lot of harm, but when we have done that harm we have betrayed the vision of the nation. We have also done a lot of good, because the visions that our forefathers and ancestors had for men and women and children are still inspiring the Ethiopian people all over the world, and they should be inspiring us now in our time of crisis too? We have a right and obligation as patriotic Ethiopians to defend our vision of Ethiopia, not as a strategic or expedient vision, but as our vision. And consider the example of the United States of America. What makes it this big nation remarkably united in spite of being composed of such diverse peoples? So, are we patriots or nationalists? They are two different things.

But be careful too all Ethiopian brothers & sisters, because people resent feeling pressured to conform to someone else’s brand of patriotism. Yes, people are hurt by the wrong and or boasting kind of judgmental finger pointing: If your ways are not like my ways, or your political views are not like mine too, you are unpatriotic. As Robert F. Kennedy once said, “What we need in Ethiopia too, is not division; what we need in Ethiopia is not hatred; what we need in Ethiopia is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, peace and compassion toward one another, patriotism and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country”. That is it. As they say, true patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else. A patriot is proud of his country in a benign sense in that he respects it. Patriots are devoted to causes greater than themselves. For the patriot, love of his or her country is like love of family-involving caring, devotion and affection. An Ethiopian nationalist may claim to love his country primarily because it is the best country in the world. Each patriotic leader was passionate about helping to save his country, especially from captivity and destruction. Jesus Christ, too, was a Patriot. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). That was exactly what Jesus did. True Ethiopian patriotism and even nationalism includes “tough and true love”, a willingness to warn people of the disastrous consequences of continuing in their evil ways. Patriotism is love of and devotion to your country Ethiopia and willingness to sacrifice for it too. Otherwise, contempt for one’s own country is sin and treason. “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free”. said Abraham Lincoln. Therefore, let’s fight our enemies’ cadres as patriots. Let us expose all the wolves in sheep’s skins and confront them.

Capt. Woldemikael Dagnachew. The author can be reached at

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