Our Leaders and Politicians need to first cultivate the spirit of Love and Reconciliation! By Befikir Leyekun
“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love.”
Let me start my writing with this wonderful history which decorated the political history of America with Reconciliation and built up this great nation, America on the Rock of Love. The American President Abraham Lincoln tried love and left for all history a magnificent drama of reconciliation. When he was campaigning for the presidency one of his arch-enemies was a man named Stanton. For some reason Stanton hated Lincoln.
He used every ounce of his energy to degrade him in the eyes of the public. So deep rooted was Stanton’s hate for Lincoln that he uttered unkind words about his physical appearance, and sought to embarrass him at every point with the bitterest diatribes. But in spite of this Lincoln was elected President of the United States. Then came the period when he had to select his cabinet which would consist of the persons who would be his most intimate associates in implementing his programme.
He started choosing men here and there for the various secretaryships. The day finally came for Lincoln to select a man to fill the all-important post of Secretary of War. Can you imagine whom Lincoln chooses to fill this post? None other than the man named Stanton. There was an immediate uproar in the inner circle when the news began to spread. Adviser after adviser was heard saying, “Mr. President, you are making a mistake. Do you know this man Stanton? Are you familiar with all of the ugly things he said about you? He is your enemy. He will seek to sabotage your programme. Have you thought this through, Mr. President?”
Mr. Lincoln’s answer was terse and to the point: “Yes I know Mr. Stanton. I am aware of all the terrible things he has said about me. But after looking over the nation, I find he is the best man for the job.” So Stanton became Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War and rendered invaluable service to his nation and his President.
Not many years Later Lincoln was assassinated. Many laudable things were said about him. Even today millions of people still adore him as the greatest of all Americans. H.G. Wells selected him as one of the six great man of history. But of all the great statements made about Abraham Lincoln, the words of Stanton remain among the greatest. Standing near the dead body of the man once he stated, Stanton referred to him as one of the greatest men that ever lived and said “he now belongs to ages.” If Lincoln had hated Stanton both men would have gone to their graves as bitter enemies. But through the power of love Lincoln transformed an enemy into a friend.
It was this same attitude that made it possible for Lincoln to speak a kind word about the South during the Civil War when feeling was most bitter. Asked bystander how he could this, Lincoln said, “Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” this is a power of redemptive love. We must love our enemies; because only by loving them can we know God and experience the beauty of his holiness.
Once Nelson Mandela in his message to the Global Convention on Peace and Non-Violence conducted at New Delhi, India, 31 January 2004 said:-
“The path of those who preach love, and not hatred, is not easy. They often have to wear a crown of thorns.”
Unfortunately our Modern Political Movement had begun with hatred and bloody civil war in the 1970s. There was no room and still has continued on the same manner closing the door for entertaining various views and political thoughts out of the spirit of love and respection. The Ethiopian political history is characterized by division, hatred, character assassination and orchestrated with crooked manner of political personalities.
It is so sad that our Mother Land, Ethiopia unable to give birth for a hero like Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and King Martin Luther…etc to heal the wound of her people with Love and Reconciliation. In fact, in the advent of the Ethiopian Millennium the national reconciliation and forgiveness was a one of the greatest agenda and a burning issue that highly pronounced by the people, the ruling government, the opposition Parties and among the religious institutions.
This zeal of national reconciliation at the national level was able to incense the Ethiopian gloomy political climate by forgiveness and reconciliation, and as the result somehow brought about change; that is the release of the opposition party leaders who had been thrown jail after the bloody clash of the 2005 post election.
However, this spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation didn’t get fertile ground to harvest much more fruit and turn out to be bring about national reconciliation in the country. Nonetheless, according to some Observers the reconciliation and forgiveness agenda was comodified and marketed by the ruling party to win the hearts of Westerners and the Media and to renew its reputation, which was ruined in the 2005 post election crsis.
As this time, Ethiopia needs a true hero and charismatic political personalities of love and reconciliation like Lincoln and Mandela, to bright and bring about drastic change about the gloomy political climate of Ethiopia. It is heart breaking for us that our political parties and leaders are known in division, hatred and character assassination one another. It is a night mare and by any means impossible to expect national reconciliation and forgiveness from these leaders who still preach hatred.
There is no other way to heal the historical and political wound of the country lasted for those hundred years, other than national reconciliation and forgiveness. The opposition parties who are involving in the non-violence struggle should first fully understand what is all about passive resistance and then they will definitely come to the point to work with their enemies and as the result to make friend of them, as Lincoln did it wisely and perfectly. But through the power of love Lincoln transformed an enemy into a friend. The ruling government, our leaders and politicians need to first cultivate and able to demonsetrate the spirit of love and reconciliation to bring about change on the gloomy climate of Ethiopian politics.