Deal with both sides of the equation to find an alternate solution-part 2
By G. Amare
Tigrai Online May 2, 2020
Since this will be my last piece on this topic, I would like to thank Giramy T. Giorgis for initiating, and sharing such a stimulating view and then, Assa Yohannes for fortifying the discussion with valuable feedback and later, many others got engaged to share their perspectives and heart-rending stories in a very civilized, matured, professional, and respectful manner. Our different views will synergize each other to generate better ideas. This, I think, is a better way to refine, build, and improve and adopt an idea or refute it when found to be irrelevant to our purpose.
- “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” (George Bernard Shaw.”
- “Don’t be afraid of new ideas. Be afraid of old ideas. They keep you where you are and stop you from growing and moving forward. Concentrate on where you want to go, not on what you fear.” (Anthony Robbins).
- “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” (Eleanor Roosevelt).
To continue from where I have stopped (part1), Assa Yohannes expressed the concern that he has with TPLF which I found it to be a legitimate one.
[‘…The current TPLF preaches that it has learnt from its terrible mistakes of the past. However, nothing like that has yet been predictable from current TPLF so far. It is a typical human character to forget about everything outside their campus once power and money is secured….’]
I equally share your concern that there is no guarantee. I cannot say with full confidence and complete certainty that TPLF leaders will not forget what they had repented and won’t turn back to repeat the same sins. I hope they must not!! However, I haven’t yet totally lost my hope because TPLF has both a history of setbacks and revivals. I am optimistic that they will and should revive at this point in time to change the people’s frustration to motivation and inspiration. It is a must for TPLF to restore its public confidence. It still has a chance to become a better and stronger to resolutely, honestly and transparently serve the people. As commonly said, ‘Where There's a Will There's a Way.’ TPLF should not fail 6 times like what Yared’s game changer Ant did because the situation is different now, there are profound public resentments, and time is of the essence.
In my previous and first piece, I asked Girmay T. Giorgis to see both the cause and effect because I believe the cause has a great deal of influence on the effect-Quest for Separation of Tigrai. Apparently, establishing “cause and effect” relationship is not always a straightforward matter. It rather is an intricate one to apply. This will be even more challenging in the Ethiopian situation where the political environment is noted to be very complicated and there are many independent variables (causes) that directly or indirectly have an influence on the dependent variable (effect)-a variable we, Tigarus, are struggling and straining to explain. No matter what, causal stories continue to be important in formulating and selecting alternative courses of actions, principles, and responses because they locate where the burdens are [Stone AD: A Causal Stories and the Formation of Policy. Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 104, No. 2. pp. 281-300)].
With this in mind, it becomes important for us (to a maximum extent that our knowledge and mental consciousness allow) to objectively look into the situation using available evidence and criteria. There are three criteria widely in use to establish Cause and Effect relationship: (i) temporal precedence (cause must precede effect); (ii) covariation (cause and effect must occur together); and (iii) any alternative (confounding) explanations must be eliminated. [https://www.coursehero.com/file/p7uunjl/Identify-and-explain-the-three-criteria-for-establishing-cause-and-effect/]
Take the issue “Separation of Tigrai'' as a case to exercise. In this instance, establishing a temporal relationship doesn’t seem difficult. In other words, there is clear temporal precedence (cause must precede effect) because there is abundant documented/recorded evidence. There are many independent variables (Causes) that have occurred prior to the manifestation of the Effect. Such evidences included but not limited to purposefully directed, oriented, and guided assaults, discriminatory actions, inflicting harms, displacements, conspiracy, genocide provoking propagandas etc. against the people of Tigrai etc. Important to note is that such systematically institutionalized kinds of actions started not today but way back when Ethiopia was under the rules of the Kings and the Derg. So, based on the temporal precedence criterion, it is easy for one to say the Cause has provoked the Effect.
The second criterion is determining whether covariation exists. This requires to demonstrate whether the Cause and Effect occur at the same time. In my view, it is not difficult to plausibly see the Cause and Effect occurring simultaneously. Despite all their resentments towards TPLF, I believe many of us will agree, Tegarus have been the frontline contributors and donors of their lives and resources (money, time, and skill); and have showed their undeserved efforts to not only bring relative peace and equality among Nations and Nationalities but also have demonstrated a great deal of determination to take Ethiopia out of its deeply rooted poverty and change its (Ethiopia’s) image around the world. Undeniably, the country has made great strides despite all the adversary actions and propagandas against TPLF/Tegarus.
However, when all kinds of adversary propagandas have become more and more aggressive; and when all kinds of bad incidents that occurred in Ethiopia have been blatantly portrayed, reported, and alleged as being played, acted and committed by only and only TPLF; and when they learned that no credit has been given to their contributions, Tegarus have started to raise questions and look for alternate options including entertaining the idea of Tigrai separation. The worst is that such allegations, accusations and ingrained patterns of behaviors are still continuing, even when TPLF is not playing the lead roles at the national level. So, in short both the cause (directed, oriented, and guided assaults, discriminatory actions, inflicting harms, conspiracy against the people of Tigrai) and the effect (the quest for separation of Tigrai) are simultaneously occurring and this depicts the existence of covariation.
The third criterion is to show that there is No Plausible Alternative Explanation, which is sometimes referred to as the “third variable” or “missing variable. It is typically the most difficult criterion to meet because it is not easy to rule out the alternative explanation for the observed effect as there may exist other possible confounders or factors that are causing the outcome. For example, TPLF has been the major political actor in the past 27 years and its top leaders have been blinded to take corrective measures to deter corruption and maladministration problems. Instead, TPLF followed and committed itself to “My Way is The Highway” kind of attitude, in most cases, unwilling to compromise and accommodate external views. So, in this situation, TPLF’s actions serve as confounders and thus, creates difficulty for us to totally exclude the No Plausible Alternative Explanation criterion.
However, because a third variable (TPLF in this case) contributed to the cause doesn’t necessarily imply that cause and effect relationship cannot be established. Let’s take our “Plausible Alternative Explanations” to be what the opponents/enemies of TPLF are claiming, “TPLF was the only cause for all types of corruptions, violation of democratic rights, imprisonments, and maladministration problems seen in Ethiopia; TPLF’s actions have been the cause for those individuals to engage in hate politics and to act in such a directed, oriented, and guided assaults, discriminatory actions, inflicting harms, conspiracy, genocide provoking propagandas etc. against the people of Tigrai;” and thus, by implication, TPLF is the cause for Tegarus to raise the question, “Separation of Tigrai.”
If we accept the alternative explanations to be true then we, Tegarus, should recognize and approve such malicious behaviors to be nothing but normal and allow them to continue instead of rejecting and nullifying them to be unfounded. Accepting the alternative explanations as true means requiring Tegarus to validate: (i) Tegarus in the past, prior to the era of 1991, were not the victims of institutionalized subjugations, oppressions, suppressions, insults, injustice, and inequalities; and thus, the 17 years of TPLF led struggle was purposeless and unnecessary; (ii) give a seal of approval for the status quo to continue (purposefully directed, oriented, and guided assaults, discriminatory actions, inflicting harms, conspiracy, genocide provoking propagandas etc. against the people of Tigrai etc.); (iii) accept ALL the crime allegations and accusations against TPLF/Tegarus to be true; and (iv) there was NO any development or change occurred in Ethiopia in the past 27 years (TPLF/Tegaru Dominated Rule); and (v) Ethiopia’s economy has been controlled by 6% (Tegarus) while the rest have been living a history of darkness and hopelessness.
In my view, it is unimaginable for Tegarus to invalidate their 17 years of bitter struggle as purposeless and unnecessary; and to majority of Tegarus and what the fact on the ground justifies, despite all the weaknesses and wrongdoings, the last 27 years have been full of success stories, hopes, aspirations and inspirations for development to pull out Ethiopia from its deeply rooted poverty as opposed to what the naysayers claim that the last 27 year were years of darkness and hopelessness.
I will leave the details to historians and social anthropologists but let me give my naive perspective related to the practical relevance of history and intermingled sociocultural relationships. In my view, taking the reality in Ethiopia into consideration; and what has been inflicted up on and narrated to degrade and decimate Tegarus, I don’t see the significance of history and intermingled sociocultural relationships. My expectation is that people or political parties who evolved from a society with intermingled sociocultural relationship and shared history would not at least reflect or exhibit xenophobic behaviors, showing a dislike of or prejudice against the other as if they are from a different country. However, that is not I see and hear.
Thus, my point is that narrating a past history or giving intermingled sociocultural relationships as reasons to justify for Tegarus not to discuss the idea of separation of Tigrai will earn much attention. Historically speaking, I don’t think any Tigreway has any doubt on whether Tigrai contributed and played pivotal roles in making Ethiopia. No one denies the existence of intermingled sociocultural ties either.
Importantly, if history and intermingled sociocultural relationships were relevant and enough to invalidate the quest for separation of Tigrai, I don’t think Eritrea would be in the situation where it stands today. Why did Eritrea become a sovereign country, despite the hard facts that the people of Eritrea are part and parcel of Axum history; the Eritreans heroically fought and died against aggressors before they fell under the colony and even after, hand in glove with their brothers and sisters in Tigrai? Without doubt, Eritreans made great contributions in making the current Ethiopia too. Importantly, though geographically and politically divided, the people of Tigrai and Eritrea, more than anyone else, possess the same sociocultural makeups, historical backgrounds, and a lot of other communalities. The rest is history that everybody knows.
The fact is that history and intermingled sociocultural ties didn’t save the people of Eritrea and Tigrai from being divided. However, the situation dictated Eritrea to be where it is now, seceded from Ethiopia, abandoning and leaving part of its history behind. Eritreans were readily and effortlessly surrendered to colonizers, unwillingly and without their intention. Later, Eritreans started to question why and doubt whether they belong to Ethiopia (not sure if the name was the same then) and they fought hard to become liberated as a sovereign state, winning all kinds of hardships, political scandals, sabotages, suppressions, and oppressions. Whether or not they are in good or bad condition is a different story.
In connection to this, I apologize for my biased conclusive statement but despite the TPLF’s confounding role, my overall assessment of the situation is that the cause heavily outweighs the effect. Therefore, the individuals, irrespective of their number (a few or many activists and scholars), who are contemplating for Tigrai Separation, have many legitimate reasons and undeniable facts to justify and defend the question “WHY Quest for Separation of Tigrai?” Bringing the idea to the table as an option for discussion and consideration helps Tegarus to get answers for questions such as “HOW?” “WHEN?” etc. and ultimately, make an informed decision. Otherwise, any effort to suppress and deter the idea from being freely discussed will potentially lead to a hostile political environment. It is also citizens’ democratic right to raise any question as long as they abide by or operate under the umbrella of the constitution and any applicable laws.
With this in mind, let me make one issue clear to readers. The intention of my piece hasn’t been to express my personal view or reflect my internal feelings in favor or against any political movement or agenda. As you all are aware, there are different political opinions and discourses evolving in Tigrai. One of them is the quest for separation of Tigrai against which Girmay T. Giorgis, originated the article, entitled, ‘Appeal to Counter Separation of Tigray.’ I was tempted to give feedback to Girmay because as a reader, I found it to be unfair to denounce one side of an idea (effect) without analyzing and criticizing the other side (the cause).
Apart from that, the marketing aspect of a party’s idea/program is not my responsibility (as I am a member to none). It should rather be the primary responsibility of a party’s program owner or innovator who holds an intellectual right of the idea. Whether I sympathize or oppose the idea depends on its palatability, rationality, practicality, and relevance in addressing and dealing with Tigrai’s burning issues: confronting with poverty and tackling Tigrai’s economic challenges; and assuring Tigrai’s emancipation from cyclical social and political injustice, threat of subjugations, aggressions, invasions, and various forms of psychological and physical harassments. We should not also forget that it is anyone’s democratic right to remain independent.
The other, there are individuals who are arguing that the quest for separation of Tigrai is the idea of a few who don’t have any right to raise such a question; and thus, the idea should not be tolerated and entertained as a subject matter to discuss. Anyone is entitled to their opinion but it is very important for everyone to know that an idea, in most cases, is generated by an individual, group of individuals, or an organized party and then, get diffused and communicated to the general public for realization. To my guess, the quest for Tigrai separation, like any other idea, is a new idea with an intellectual property and a creation with commercial values. It is the creators’ responsibility to design and formulate their idea and make it superior compared to competitors.’ This way, they can effectively and efficiently market it and requires them to be responsive and progressive when it comes to collecting, identifying, and analyzing potential enablers and barriers; and knowing that adoption of a new idea like any other new commercial product does not happen instantly.
Adoption rather is a process whereby some people are more apt to adopt than others and it depends on: Relative Advantage (the degree to which the idea is seen as better than the idea it replaces); Compatibility (how consistent the idea is with the values and needs of the potential adopters); Complexity (how difficult the idea is to understand); Triability (the extent to which the new idea can be tested or experimented with before a commitment to adopt it); and Observability (the extent to which new idea provides tangible results) [http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/SB/BehavioralChangeTheories/BehavioralChangeTheories4.html]
According to the diffusion of innovation theory (https://www.ou.edu/deptcomm/dodjcc/groups/99A2/theories.htm), new ideas, products, or practices are not adopted by all individuals within a social system at the same time. Instead, they tend to adopt in a time sequence. Diffusion theorists classify individuals in a social system into categories based on how long takes for them to begin adopting the new idea [(https://www.ou.edu/deptcomm/dodjcc/groups/99A2/theories.htm); (http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/SB/BehavioralChangeTheories/BehavioralChangeTheories4.html) ; and https://www.ou.edu/deptcomm/dodjcc/groups/99A2/theories.htm)]:
- Innovators: are eager to try new ideas, venturesome and interested in new ideas; willing to take risks; possess the ability to understand and apply complex technical knowledge etc. and make about 2.5% of the normal frequency distribution (see figure below). They can easily adopt ideas and join originators with little information.
- Early adopters: seem to have the greatest degree of opinion leadership in most social systems; enjoy leadership roles, and embrace change opportunities; provide advice and information sought by others; they are important in helping to speed the diffusion process; and they tend to be integrated into the local social system more than innovators; they are usually respected by their peers and has a reputation for successful and discrete use of new ideas. They are next to innovators in adopting ideas and joining the group. This category constitutes about 13.5% of the normal frequency distribution (see figure below).
- Early majority: members of this group usually adopt new ideas just before the average member of a social system; they interact frequently with peers; they take relatively longer time to adopt new ideas compared to innovators and early adopters; and they are not often found holding leadership positions. This group requires more information about the idea and persuasion to convince them and they make about 34% of the normal frequency distribution (see figure below).
- Late majority: are skeptical, reluctant and cautious group about new ideas/innovations, adopt new ideas just after the average member of a social system and will only adopt an innovation after it has been tried by the majority; and while they may be persuaded about the utility of a new idea, there must be strong pressure from peers to adopt i.e. this group requires tremendous amount of resources and a lot of marketing works. They make about 34% of the normal frequency distribution (see figure below).
- Laggards: are people bound by tradition; are very conservative and very skeptical of change; are the hardest group to bring on board; they tend to be suspicious of the idea/innovation and the change agents as well; they are last to adopt an idea/innovation; shows almost no opinion leadership; they are fixated on the past and in order to satisfy them, all decisions must be made in terms of previous generations; an idea/innovation finally adopted by laggards may already be rendered obsolete. They are about 16% of normal frequency distribution (see figure below). https://www.google.com/search?q=innovators+early+adopters+middle+majority+laggards&client
Therefore, it becomes very important for owners of the idea, ‘Separation of Tigrai’ to know and realize that there are uphill climbs because, by and large, adopters aren't great risk-takers; the majority are in the early and late adopters and laggards are of heavy dose; a new idea/product diffuses out into the marketplace not on a straight path but in wave after wave, starting with innovators, then moving on to early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards at the end of the line. (https://www.thestreet.com/technology/what-is-diffusion-of-innovation-14804157). Formulation of unambiguous strategies, appropriately tailored to fit the interests and attitudes of the adopter category is essential to persuade the majority. Designing strategies to create knowledge which is the initial touchpoint of the diffusion are very critical and continuous persuasions are necessary measures to accelerate the diffusion process.
“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it” (Albert Einstein).
“You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea” (Benazir Bhutto).
Discussion on cost-benefit/effectiveness analysis left intentionally (apologize for my promise).