Dr. Yohannes Aberra Ayele 2-11-19
In our school years it was embarrassing to say፡ "I am eating my lunch yesterday" in a classroom full of students and an English teacher. These days it seems to be ok to talk about the past as if it is happening now and will continue to happen in the future. We in Ethiopia seem to have been frozen in time like the clock on the Arat Kilo Liberation Monument. We are not behaving like a Nation with a future at our doorsteps. We are even hiding from the present considering it as a replay of the past.
Just do the experiment for yourself. It is enough to sit in front of the redundant TV channels for only one whole day. Here we are! Every "journalist" and every interviewee, suffocated by emotions and tears in their eyes, talk about glories of the past exaggerating them beyond proportions. For them, Ethiopia has stopped moving somewhere in the past and now we all are just lifeless museum pieces. You don't need to take another day because, I assure you, the same thing will happen the next day, the next month, the next year too. The media seems to be in a comma unable to respond to the present in view of the future and the past in view of both the present and the future.
They say: "If you want to understand the future you have to know the past". This is true. The problem is, people are taking the past not as a means to understand the present and the future, but as an end in itself. People are fighting their current fights using history as weapons. We are not debating using state-of-the-art logic, theories, and principles, which could brighten our views of the future, but by transplanting the views and actions of monarchs and other personalities of the past into the current settings. The incongruence will obviously further aggravate the misunderstanding. Why not? This is what happens when you try to distinguish virus from bacteria using an archaic magnifying glass instead of an electronic microscope. No nostalgic Nation has succeeded in striding into the future without encountering fatal stumbling blocks.
I posted a commentary article on a certain website, 11 years ago, entitled "Look back, but don't live in it". I was obliged to revisit the issue because it has been getting worse. I felt strongly that this has to be halted as soon as possible.
One tragic aspect of the "living in the past" is the deleterious role it plays in distorting the attitudes of the youth. It is said "the youth has its future; but the aged has only its past". There is a dangerous mixing up of generations. The egoistic and myopic old generation is trying to replicate itself in the new generation and halt its progress into the future. Nowadays, it is heart breaking to observe the Ethiopian youth stuck in the historical events and ideologies as narrated, glorified and inculcated in the tabula rasa of the new generation by the stubborn old generation. Enmity between rival regional feudal lords and kings has become”software" driving the behaviors of the youth towards each other. Normally acting nations don't destroy their future by crippling their young generation. Rather they engage in the principle of "altruism" where they devote their energies to produce an innovative, harmonious, forward looking, and patriotic young generation. This is exactly what we should do if we really want to see a prosperous Ethiopia into the future. The young generation has to use the old generation for shaping a bright future rather than the other way round፡ dragging the young generation and throwing it into the past and leaving Ethiopia's future unattended!!