Ethiopia: Peace, Development - Siamese Twins

Peace and security are essential components of a healthy society. No sane mind would stand against this assertion. Every citizen and peace-loving individual should contribute its share to avoid elements that compromise peace in the society, but people who are at the top of societal pyramid, particularly faith leaders, are duty bound in ushering the faithful through the path of peace, love and respect.

More than any time before, our country has been caught between two stools. On one leg, the ongoing economic growth and the ensuing tasks of sustaining the growth has made the decision making body to work beyond the call of duty. The lingering unrest in some parts of Oromia and Amhara States has put the country through tough times, on the other. Faith fathers' intermediary role between the government and the youth, who present legitimate demands, become so crucial at this critical time.

The unrest has two faces. One is that the majority of youths have been presenting their legitimate concerns peacefully. The other is, individuals who always opts for fishing out of troubled waters manipulate the youths' concerns and steer them through destructive and wrong turns. Hence, hard-won investment pillars have been attacked: Citizens' constitutional rights to work and prosper has been put at risk, to say the least.

To add fuel on the fire, targeted attacks on civilians have also been observed.

Doomsayers, through social-media, toil round the clock to disseminate wrong information to the youths with a view to spoiling the culture of peace, love and respect among the people.

These unscrupulous individuals, who consider the youth no less than their destructive agents, load their cynical message on the innocent young people, encourage them to bulldoze public and private properties and do all kinds of evil actions.

On one hand, the youths are building the country's economic muscles copping up beating temperature at major projects' sites--in Benishangul Gumuz State at Guba where the Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) construction is being carried out, for instance. And few youths are trapped by the ill-fated propaganda of anti-peace elements, one the other. The question, therefore, should be: What roles can the faith leaders play to encourage the exemplary youths and help the rest get into the right track?

No doubt, faith leaders have been playing encouraging roles so far. Still, they can expand their roles by intensifying tasks on moral and ethical educations. They should equip the youth with the ideals of peace, love and culture of work. Peace is central to all faiths, and the golden rule of 'Treat others the way you would want to be treated,' is a shared value among all the faiths. Thus, the leaders should help the youths' grasp such ideals properly.

Not only this, the youths' demands should be addressed properly. But, with all due respect to the separation of state and religion in Ethiopia, the leaders have also ample platforms to exchange ideas with government officials. Hence, they can contribute positively by making studies as to the demands of the youth and presenting their findings to the government.

Above all, at the core of grievances, there are mal-administration, corruption, regionalism, disrespect, and contempt, among others. These fatal societal diseases, unless treated with the right medicine, would cripple the ongoing development. Thus, faith leaders should strengthen their layered activities-in shaping the youths and public servants' moral and ethics.

Religious leaders should, therefore, use track two diplomacy to create better understanding among parties that held opposing views. They can have roles in deconstructing factors that bring rift among the various parties and serve as bridge.

Both state and religion have sides that coincide one on another. Both parties aim at improving the lives of the people. But this noble goal cannot materialize, unless durable peace prevails. To this end, the faith leaders ought to devise more mechanisms to nurture the culture of dialogue among the youths.

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