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Asking the Right Question—A Way Out from Our Current Existential Crisis?

By Tsegai Berhane (PhD)
Mekelle University, School of Law
Tigrai Online, Dec. 17, 2018

As a concerned citizen, when I evaluate the situation our country is in, it looks our country is at a crossroads. As of recently, the intensity of instability, killing of citizens, destruction of properties, internal displacement, hate propaganda are becoming norms. I would even dare to say our country is becoming a very difficult country to govern. It is fraught with multitude of political, social and economic problems complemented with regional and ethnic tensions. Sometimes one could even question the existence of the Federal Government and could wonder how the country is running as a country. Of course, a very critical minded person might even equate the situation we are in as a state of nature.

In such a very worrisome situation we are in, it is my firm belief that we need to ask proper question to address the situation. Accordingly, the right question we need to ask is “As Ethiopians what did we do wrong in the process of nation building?” In my opinion asking such a question would lead us to a way of thinking—how do we (collectively as Ethiopians) put it right?   

As to what is the proper question to ask in times of crisis, Bernard Lewis observes that when people realize that things are going wrong they ask two questions. One—what did we do wrong? And the other —who did this to us? For Bernard Lewis, the latter leads to conspiracy theories and paranoia. The former to another line of thinking: how do we put it right?”


    When we ask what we did wrong as Ethiopians, it helps us to be inclusive in solving the wrong we did collectively. It promotes win-win solution. While concentrating on who did this to us, it sensitizes us to be vindictive and exclusive in the process of problem solving. In other word, we start to talk in terms of category of people—US or THEM.  In my view, in such a very critical situation where we are facing existential threat, we need to be accommodative, conciliatory and inclusive. Exclusiveness and vindictiveness will take us nowhere. It would rather lead us into nonstop weaves of conflicts. Thus, the importance of asking the right question in the time of existential threat.

    Long Live Ethiopia!!!  

    Tigrai was the center of Ethiopia, but now Tigrai is the center of Tigrai, from now on, a single Tigrawai will not die for this hopeless country.