Christmas and Holiday Greetings from the SMNE
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) wishes all Ethiopians a wonderful and blessed Christmas and holiday season. As Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, or as Muslims end their gathering at Mecca or as Jews celebrate Hanukkah, it is a time for peace, love and compassion between people of differing faiths, different ethnicities, different languages and different socio-economic backgrounds.
This is a time to enjoy and treasure family, friends and especially the children as we worship, eat together, laugh together, give to each other and appreciate one another. As God has given each of us a gift of life, it is a time to search for the deeper meaning and purpose of our lives and how we might contribute to others.
As we gather with loved ones for this holiday, let us not limit this good will to the family sitting around us for we have plenty of others from the family of Ethiopia who are not at our table; some of them not even having the opportunity to do so because of the difficult conditions of their lives. Let our hearts be reminded of them as we celebrate this holiday season that we may not cease in our efforts to become a source of blessing to them.
As we remember their precious humanity, we reclaim our own. Yet, many of us can feel devalued or uncertain about ourselves. In this world that wars against the value of each of us or only affirms us if we are from the “right” group or have beauty, wealth, education, prestige, power or other worldly assets; all of which we cannot take with us when we leave this world. Instead, let us reclaim the unshakeable worth that our Creator God has given to each of us—our humanity and His love that reaches out as a hand to lift us up if we but reach back to Him. Then, let us reach out to embrace others that the world may have forgotten.
Let us remember those freedom fighters who are paying the price for us. Think of those recently sentenced to life imprisonment or death for trying to bring freedom to Ethiopia. Think of Birtukan Mideksa who has sacrificed her freedom for the truth, without which we will never have a free and just Ethiopia. She is not the only one who has paid dearly for standing up for greater principles for there are thousands of prisoners of conscience who fill the dark cells of jails, prisons and detention centers all over Ethiopia; all perhaps wondering if those of us on the outside have forgotten them and the sacrifice they have made for the rest of us. Let us reassure them that we have not and will not give up the struggle until justice comes to Ethiopia.
Let us remember the less fortunate—the ignored, the marginalized, the discounted and the devalued. Remember the hungry Ethiopian child, digging through the garbage, trying to find something to eat to ease the pain in his or her empty stomach. Think of the homeless, sleeping on the streets of Addis Ababa with no shelter.
Think of someone who just lost a family member to disease, hunger or human rights abuses. Think of the Ethiopian son or daughter forced against their will to fight, and maybe to die, in a war not their own so that the TPLF might stay in power. Think of the desperate mother who is nursing her baby but has no more milk to give her crying child. Think of the grandmother who is caring for her grandchildren because both parents died of HIV and she has no way to support them. Think of the Ethiopian young man in a refugee camp, trying to find opportunity only to find dire hardship.
Think of the Ethiopian woman in the Middle East who has been tricked by her desperation to leave the country for the promise of a job only to become a slave laborer; sometimes accompanied by being sexually exploited. Think of those Ethiopians who escaped to Europe only to be deported to Ethiopia or Libya where they were detained, tortured and forced to live under horrible conditions.
As you sit with your family celebrating, put yourself in the shoes of one of these people and think that it could be you. Then think, these precious people are part of you—their tribe, age, language, religion, gender, political view or educational background may be different, but the blood of humanity that flows through their veins also flows through yours. Ask yourself, how long will this misery continue to afflict the minds, souls, hearts and bodies of the Ethiopian people?
For this misery to end; you are the answer—not one leader, one political party or one tribe, but all and each of us. We cannot solve this problem by emigrating or running away from Ethiopia. We must invest in making Ethiopia not a place to run from; but instead, a place to truly live and thrive rather than only to survive. May God empower us to make this dream of having a peaceful Ethiopia come true.
May God also help us make this the year we reconcile, making us a society of reconciliation rather than a society of retaliation; a society of compassion rather than a society of selfishness, greed and cruelty; a society of humility rather than a society of stubborn pride, personal ambition and intolerance, a society that fears God rather than pretending we are our own god, sufficient in ourselves and not accountable to Him on Judgment Day. We have repeatedly failed as people; but yet, God can lift us up in unpredictable ways if we call on Him in genuine sincerity.
We in the SMNE call for you and yours to join in this examination of one’s own heart and conscience and in carrying out this human-to-human solidarity for “no one will be free until all are free.” This is not about political parties or who leads who; but instead, this is about valuing every human life because nations are made up of human beings. It is when we have healthy humans that we have a healthy society. This cannot be done by one person alone, by the SMNE board or its members; it requires each of us. The work is for you. You have to do your share and we must do ours. Only then will the fabric we weave together, as Ethiopian people, be beautiful and complete.
In closing, we in the SMNE want to convey our love for the Ethiopian people. We thank the people whose names or faces we may not even yet know, but who have been there to help advance these ideals and principles by word, action and concrete support; without which we could not continue. We need each other more now than ever if we are, with God’s help, to bring about that new Ethiopia for which we all dream and yearn.
What are we fighting against? It is a battle of ideologies. We are fighting against “Woyannism,” an enslaving, cruel, godless and destructive ideology that has captured the minds and souls of those holding to it. As it seduces the “unthinking,” each new proponent may be oblivious to the fact that it will eventually lead to not only the destruction of others, but to their own destruction.
Its basic premise is that only “I” or (my ethnic groups) matter and “others” are only valuable if they are of use to advance “my” or (my ethnic groups) interests; otherwise they can be ignored if they do not get in “my” way, punished if they do and discarded if they do not cooperate.
It wars against fearing a powerful God, our Creator, who created each person—me as well as my neighbor—to possess intrinsic worth; therefore calling us to love Him and one another as He loves us.
We cannot rest as the Woyanne are becoming more actively aggressive in spreading this ideology of hate through threats, bribes, intimidation and punitive action. Instead, we must try to expose the inherent evil found within it, wherever it surfaces, hoping not only to stop it, but also hoping that some holding to such beliefs will wake up, repent of it and change.
Here is an example that should be exposed. Recently, throughout the country and repeated at a meeting of a thousand people held several days ago in Addis Ababa, the Woyanne leadership threatened the people; telling them that all should join them, “ያልታከፈ ዪበርደዋል” it means “embracing” or “cuddling close together” with the EPRDF or otherwise, they would be “left out in the cold to freeze to death;” isolated from everyone else and not having any opportunity.
What should this tell us? The Woyanne and their supporters are more determined than ever to break the country into pieces, dividing us from each other in order to maintain their power. We should be more determined than they are to keep our family of Ethiopia together “without leaving anyone in the cold.” These threats only work if people are intimidated and believe that a small minority can successfully continue to subjugate nearly 80 million people.
Ethiopians are ready to say no if we are organized, unified and equipped strategically because the majority of the people are on the side of justice, freedom and the rule of law. What the people are lacking at home is an alternative, but each one of us is the alternative, so we urge you to join those whom you believe are working in the direction you want.
The SMNE is yours. We invite all to visit our website www.solidaritymovement.org for more information on our objectives and goals. If you want to advance the SMNE principles, simply join and become a member or contact us. Please know how much we look forward to your continued support in 2010 as we strive to advance the work of putting “humanity before ethnicity.” Only such a principle, put into concrete action, will lay the groundwork for a New Ethiopia and Horn of Africa, crossing all ethnic, religious, regional, national or manmade boundaries.
We hope that this coming season is the one where we respond to God’s call to better love our brothers, sisters and neighbors; inviting them to join us at the greater table of Ethiopia, the Horn, of Africa and of humanity. May God show us the way!
For more information, contact:
Mr. Obang Metho, Executive Director of the SMNE