17 March 2017

Ethiopia: Responsibility for the Common Good

editorial

Once in a while, life demands every one of us to pass critical decisions. Besides, we pass routine decisions every day on what to eat, what to dress, where to go, with whom to spend time with and so on. Life is all about this, making decisions - major and minor once. With every breath we take in, we are making conscious or unconscious decisions.

The conscious decisions we make are part of what makes us humans. At each breath we take, we make decisions to be good or bad, to act violently or peacefully, to be corrupt or not to be corrupt, to be just or unjust, or to work for the common good or just be self-centered.

Whenever we make decisions, we have to take the consequences and their impacts on others into consideration. We have to be considerate whenever we make decisions because the decisions we make, whatever our intentions might be, are not always going to have positive outcomes. They might spoil our or others' lives or turn personal visions upside down. A responsible person takes each and every decision carefully and hence makes judgment fairly, rationally and logically with good intentions.

The world that we are living in is under a constant state of various forms of unrest and instability because of poor judgments and decisions made by individuals or groups. Yet the problem is that nobody seems to be willing to take the responsibility or be accountable. Every one of us has to be accountable for the actions we take as common people and the decisions we make based on the responsibility bestowed upon us individually, socially or politically. Plus we have to be responsible for correcting others' wrong doings that might affect a lot of people.

Everyone has a duty to be a responsible citizen. Yet, not everyone takes this responsibility seriously and it is a common trend that people point their fingers at others whenever something bad happen.

However, the best way to respond to wrong doings [and it is also responsibility] is also by critically viewing the situation unfolding and taking the responsibility for taking actions for its remedy in a democratic and civilized manner. And this requires ethical and responsible citizens, public figures and leaders. Ignoring the violation of justice, just because it does not affect us directly, is similar to being breathless and irresponsible.

The bottom line is as long as we breathe; we have to be responsible decision makers and action takers, for being a responsible citizen results in a happy and harmonious community - if everyone else does the same. That is why responsible citizens play a key role for the progress of the common good, in our specific case for national development endeavors.

They make every decision with a consideration of the interest of their nation and people. They stand for justice, they discharge their responsibilities properly, and they contribute their part for the common good and progress. Responsible citizens will not just pass by, ignoring the day to day wrong doings in the society where they live. They will at least suggest or work for their remedy whenever they witness unjust practices.

They are simply salts to the socio-political life of a nation. They fairly judge the ongoing politics and are active participants in any form of decision making. It is believed that politics is not the work of higher officials or leaders alone. The effectiveness and quality of political leadership depends on active participation of citizens. In a country where the political participation of citizens is weak or insignificant, the situations of good governance, effective public service delivery, public satisfaction and development are always poor and do not meet standards.

Being a responsible citizen covers many areas - some of them legal obligations, some social, political and some moral. Being a responsible citizen is not as easy as only staying within the law.

In fact, to be a truly responsible citizen, we sometimes must go out of our way to do things which help our society - give a little of our time and effort for the greater good. This makes all of us responsible for we have the duty and capacity to get involved in the nation's social and political life with good intentions. Be it economic, social or political issues, citizens have to have a say.

Hence, responsible leaders and followers are mandatory for the proper functioning of the modern state. Everything worst happening in the world in general or in our nation in particular is due to the fact that we do not take our responsibilities properly.

If we see the situation in Ethiopia at the moment, rent-seeking, injustice, poor governance, nepotism and other malpractices are visible in many aspects of life. Only those directly affected by these practices are usually heard yelling and complaining.

Even if such issues would not affect us directly, we should speak up for those, who can't speak. And we should be fair in our judgments. The fact that such malpractices do not affect us directly does not mean that it do not negatively affect other individuals or the common good. Whether we like it or not, each and every decision and action taken by some party, or policy or idea (be it economic, political, or social) has an effect on all of us.

The judgment of a responsible citizen begins from the decision on self. Decision to quit addiction, to stop lying, stealing, abusing power and public property, become ethical, accountable and responsible enable us to think out of the circle and work for the common good. At each breath we take, we have to develop sense of responsibility and we have to stand against those self-centered individuals who only think about their individual interests at the expense of the common good.

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