Dear friends, this post is quite personal to me. Please read to the end. Note well that the stories below describe a disturbing pattern which many Ethiopians beautifully reject. I clearly remember being in the home of a friend in Addis. We were talking about Ethiopian politics, and they loudly declared, “I hate Tigrayans!” I was extra saddened that this person’s small children were listening to these words of hatred.
Some years later, I was in another region of Ethiopia. This time I was walking with slightly older children in a village. Once again, it was a tense time in Ethiopia. I asked these beautiful children, “What do you think of Tigrayans?” The children answered, “They are evil people!” They went on to boast about how their parents had burned the cars of Tigrayan people.
The two events are connected. When small children grow up hearing hateful things at home about others, they will think this hate is normal. In fact, they will think hate is healthy and violence is virtue. Patriotism and persecution will be fused. Today I received a text from a dear Tigrayan friend. They wrote, “It has been really really painful. I cry each day and am overcome with helplessness thinking of the people. I pray and wonder if God hears our wailings or if he has turned his face away.” They went on to write about their fear of their parents being targeted. This text echoed others I have received, which express a similar fear.
I’m getting credible information about high-level demands for arbitrary firings simply because of ethnicity. Another (non-Tigrayan) friend told me, “Sympathy for others has become a crime. Trying to understand has become a hidden agenda. Each day brings more pain, death, and displacement. I’m becoming a stranger in my own community.”Friends, please join me in saying publicly: ***Tegaru are my neighbors. I commit to love and care for Tigrayans as my self.***Let us challenge words of hate. Let us silence belittling jokes. Let us protest actions that arbitrarily target others. Let us actively speak words of dignity, embrace, and security in our homes, our houses of worship, our neighborhoods, our offices, schools, and communities. Every church and mosque should be declaring their gratitude to God for the minorities in our communities, celebrating their dignity, ensuring their full equality and safety. During Covid, businesses are posting huge signs that say, “WE’RE OPEN!” Why? Because under pandemic conditions, people might think they’re closed, so something normal and obvious needs to be said publicly and loudly. In this time of war, let us say to our minority neighbors, “WE LOVE YOU! YOU BELONG HERE!” Go out of your way today to speak dignity, security, and hope to any neighbor in your community that may feel at risk.Say this in your home to your children. Say this in your sermon to your community. Post this on your wall or on your car or on your house. Let there be an outpouring of love for “the other.” Let us proactively, preemptively, and personally declare love against hate. When we do this, we aren’t saying Tigrayan neighbors are better; we’re saying they’re beloved. And that can and should be said to EVERY individual and group: “You are beloved.” The time is now to actively challenge hate, targeting, and violence against ANY of our neighbors. Oromo = neighbor.Amhara = neighbor.Tigray = neighbor.Somali = neighbor.Sidama = neighbor.Wolaita = neighbor.Afar = neighbor.Gambella = neighbor.Orthodox = neighbor.Muslim = neighbor.Pente = neighbor.Waaqqefeta = neighbor.Atheist = neighbor.The other = neighbor.The stranger = neighbor.The enemy = neighbor.Person = neighbor.Love your neighbor as your self. (1) God commands it. (2) You benefit. (3) The common good grows. (4) Disaster is avoided. Don’t wait to love. #NLM#Balinjeraye#Ollaa#Mehazay#Jarkayga#SayNoToWarEthiopia https://www.facebook.com/andrew.decort/posts/10102314288329460