February 21, 2009

Anomalies aside: The Church should get its rightful place

(By Fiqre Mariam Ze Krisitos, fiqremariam.zekrisitos@gmail.com)

For centuries the Ethiopian Church has been playing uniquely positive roles in the making of a country what we today call Ethiopia.
The Church is not a mere actor of the past, it is still active and will continue to resonate directly through its faithful who mirror its living Tradition, not tradition; and indirectly through its fingerprints coloring the vast social and institutional landscape that make up all walks of life of the government and the governed.
It is understandable that for some atheists in the EPRDF-led government and the opposition block, it is hard to discern the constituents and the significance of this key role that has been and is being played by the Church. Until informed personalities in the leadership in both blocks voice this reality clear and loud, or until well versed people ascend to the helms of leadership at different levels, the least the government can do is to leave the Church alone to mind its own businesses.
What is it really the government want from the current tension between Christians and Muslims that is approaching a boiling point of vaporization? What kind of solution will benefit the Ethiopian people at large in addressing this ongoing unpleasant strain? The common denominator in all thinkable versions of answers that one can propose to these two questions will be the virtue of PEACE.
Luckily for the people and government of Ethiopia, the Church is a harbinger and guardian of peace. Hence it is not only easy and natural for the Church to teach Peace to her sons and daughters, the nucleus of its message and prayer to world has a “Peace unto you” brand. Even its version of peace transcends what we all know or claim to know as Peace. The Holy Bible calls this transcending peace, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
On the other hand, the government should be worried, rightly so, by the sprouting of fundamentalist Islamism that bases all its actions on killing others that it considers are outside its concept of fidelity.
It is known to all who have been following the issues closely that government security forces have been gathering all kinds of information for more than ten years now with regard to what has been brewed by foreign and domestic forces of fundamental Islamism. In a manner that doesn’t undermine its duty of protecting national interest and security, the government should communicate its findings in a timely and transparent manner and thereby alert its people.
There is nothing the government can win by cuddling the snake (fundamentalists) and the dove (peace loving Ethiopians) in the same way. We are living in a real world, not in the exceptional space of the Ark of Noah where the snake and the dove could live without creating a mess. The government can serve well both the Church and the peace-loving Muslim community thereby the country as a whole by making it crystal clear that “there is no room whatsoever for fundamentalists’ ideology and activity in Ethiopia”. Neither the Church the Muslim community loses because of such courageous talks and walks of the government.
The failure to point the finger on the right culprit, however, makes the victim, in this case the sons and daughters of the Church, wonder why. They inevitably lose confidence in the government hence creating a room for unprecedented sense of despair that leads to chains of unwanted consequences.
The government should stop dancing to the fabricated historical tune of remaking an Ethiopia that never existed outside the nightmare bubbles of the fundamentalists. It should boldly and proactively act in a manner that would discipline those who ferment havoc thereby teach a lesson for the future in a fashion that would guarantee a peaceful Ethiopia.
No magnitude of noise, financial or otherwise, should change its course of action of hunting down those who are disbanding the peaceful coexistence of all and the sense of friendliness that has existed for hundreds of years.
Genuine sons and daughters of the Church should also demand the government through all possible channels to be bold enough to the extent of giving a unique and rightful place of the Church that makes it play an explicit and exclusive role of administrating and serving peace in the country. As insane as it may sound, implementing this has no conflict at all with respecting the right of citizens to believe in whatever they want. It is simply doing the obvious, putting the country back into its unique historical and contemporary chapter in the book that narrates the history of humankind. Americans are seen as insane by some countries in Europe for sticking to their tradition of using God’s name all over from their dollar notes to their oath of office and inaugural invocation. No matter what these insanely secularized Europeans say, these “God” features are what millions of Americans cherish as uniquely American. By the same token, no matter what fundamentalists as well as atheists in the government and oppositions say and wish, our focus, anomalies aside, should be to hoist the Church and the country into such a rightful place.
Peace Unto you

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