The Good and the Ethiopian condition
By Teodros Kiros
In a very recent wise article, (Ethiopians Must Garner A Higher Form of Unity in
Light of Kebede Michael Vision, Ghelawdewos Araia December 27, 2011) Dr.
Ghelawdewos Araia advises us to aim at discovering our higher selves and garner
a higher form of unity in light of Kebede Michael�s Vision, and disembark from
the destructive path of hammering on obsessions with the psychological makeup
of our leaders. He alternatively suggests that:
�The lack of unity among Ethiopian opposition groups, as I have indicated
several times elsewhere, boils down to
1) lack of higher level of political
consciousness among the average Diaspora groupings;
2) lack of vision among the
so-called leaders of the Diaspora opposition;
3) a diminished national and
patriotic commitment as opposed to the forefathers who fought gallantly to
preserve Ethiopian sovereignty and independence;
4) inability of Ethiopians to
transcend their narrow ethnic affiliation and foster an all- Ethiopia agenda;
5) willingly promoting ethnic associations that precludes a higher form of
In order to overcome the above problems thus, I am inviting Ethiopians, wherever
they may be, to carefully read the vision of Kebede Michael and seriously
consider the current prevailing narrow and annoying hate politics. There are
hundreds of Ethiopian visionaries as I have noted in my article entitled
Saluting the Wonderful Ethiopian Intellectuals, but I have chosen Kebede
Michael for this particular essay because I am concerned about the increasingly
eroded unity of Diaspora Ethiopians and Ethiopia�s genuine transformation for
the better. Moreover, Kebede Michael uniquely combines both patriotism and
development vision as demonstrated in his book, How Japan Became Civilized.
The essay below is a response to his call.
The Good is a non-physical organizing principle by which a state coheres as a
systematic whole. The Good is a moral organizer of the self, as the self moves
towards it because it finds the Good useful, pleasurable, intellectually
nourishing and morally rich. While the self is thus attracted to the Good, it
does not, however know how to discover it, as the Good tends to hide its
geographic location outside of time and space.
Let the Good be A and the self who is attracted to it be B. Generalizing this
specific relationship between X and Y, and extending it to the larger
relationships among citizens of state Z, we can say, citizens X are intensely
attracted to A but do not know the nature of A. They wish to know what A is
in-itself, so that they can morally organize themselves as responsible citizens
A is a non-physical object which is trapped inside the human body, D. A is
geographically located outside of space and time and from there it organizes
the movement of the body, a physical object, which is planted in time and space
for a finite period.
A and D enter into a relationship which they do not fully understand, save for
their vague awareness that D is, finite, fragile, unstable and subject to pain
and death, whereas D is infinite, strong, stable and deathless. D is
consequently dependent on the guidance of A, but A is not detectable,
observable and visible.
D is deeply disturbed by the invisibility of A but also profoundly impressed by
the power of A. A is an idea which can be disclosed by tremendous mental and spiritual efforts
of XYZ, should they decide to seek it. Indeed, A is the place of Enlightenment
for all. The essential characteristic of A is perfect thoughts. When XYZ
resolve to seek A, then they must exercise their minds and train their bodies
A can be disclosed to the seeker with an authentic comportment from the
(A) XYZ themselves
(B) XYZ working on their souls
(F) The disclosure of the Benevolent Transcendent
(A) The move toward A, the Good itself is an activity of distinct and unique
individuals born to this world to determine their destinies, since they are
condemned to freedom. As the French atheistic existentialist put it, it is an
existential project, the project of the for itself, as it is seeking the
in-itself. A is that in-itself in this case. The search for A is the
activity of XYZ as unique citizens who share citizenship but are otherwise
distinct individuals who must undertake this long existential project in search
of A, which is a life time activity of responsible citizenship.
(B) Aristotle, the great Athenian thinker once remarked that virtue is nothing
more than the activity of the soul in accordance with excellence, or at least,
not without it.
The two key terms in that remark are Virtue and Soul. Virtue and Soul are not
foreign to classical Ethiopian moral imagination; they are only becoming
increasingly common to contemporary Ethiopian cultural life and thereby causing
the prevalence of cultural decadence, as I argued recently in � Cultural
Decadence� (Abugida, Ethioquest, Ethiopian Review, Ethiosun, Addis Voice,
Ethioguardian, Quatero, Teoclahagos, Jan 14,2011).
In fact our historic Christian sensibilities preach the relevance of virtue and
soul. Unfortunately, the message has not been internalized. The churches push
the message but ordinary Ethiopians have not made the practice a living part of
their everyday lives, and this is a serious problem, which needs to be solved. In
a recent article Tecola Hagos has made this important point (Abugida, Nov 13,
The first step of cultural transformation is the moral organization of the self.
This is an activity of the private self. The care of the self demands that the individual attends to her soul by
developing an internal relationship between self and self, and not self and the
church. The latter relationship is remote and external to the soul. The soul
must be activated from the inside and the relationship between self and self is
internal to the soul. The activity of the soul is a conversation that the self
enters into privately, as a conversation between the creator and the lost soul,
or the soul, which wishes to become virtuous, become good. The internal parts
of the soul, which must be activated, are reason, the desires and spiritedness.
These three are the engine of the soul. Should we want to be good we must
cultivate the relationships between these three parts in accordance with the
foundational principle of conversing with our creator?
Consider the following example. Two Ethiopians are having a passionate
conversation about the ongoing discussion of forgiveness for the imprisoned
derg leaders. One is opposed the other is giving it a considered reflection.
Both are consulting their souls and trying to think wisely. Reason is guiding
the discussion but the desire to revenge and the spirited disposition are at
war with one another. What should these concerned Ethiopians do? At this
stage I will only introduce the problem, and in the next article, I will
propose a solution, and argue that a conversation with our Lord may provide an
Conversation with the creator is a private matter, central to the care of the
self, a point that I will address in the next parts.
A is not easy to locate, since A is located outside time and space, as we know
them. A cannot be detected, observed or seen. Its essential properties are
undetectable, and invisibility. A can be disclosed to us, only by indirection,
such as revelation. On the level on revelation, those to whom are not ordinary
mortals, although even ordinary mortals can access A by making themselves
extraordinary beings, an extraordinariness, which encourages A to reveal
itself, through revelation.
When A wants and only when it wants will it disclose itself to XYZ, ordinary
humans, who by doggedly working on their souls, as I argued in part I, purify
themselves by clean themselves from the pile and dirt of undisciplined desires
and ready themselves to witness the presence of A, as A guides them to act and
choose reasonably as bearers of moral personalities and ethical frames.
Only A revealing itself to the Ethiopian people and giving them directives and
strategies of overcoming their unbearable conditions can the Ethiopian people
overcome their ongoing under the Leviathan of tyranny.