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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Apr 20 2009 - 06:48:29 EDT


I will really appreciate it if you post the attached important article on
your web site. "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."
Thenk you for your wonderful cooperation. Best regards.


Tesfa Gebremedhin, Ph.D.

Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics Division of Resource
Management P. O. Box 6108 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 26506-6108

304-293-4832 ext. 4467

 <mailto:tgebrem@wvu.edu> tgebrem@wvu.edu



Dr. Tesfa G. Gebremedhin, University of Bahrain



It is our common understanding that we have serious problems in our
communities and religious institutions. We have to admit that the problems
are created by our self-centered and arrogant behaviors. Some of the
problems could be just simple misunderstandings because we are too stubborn
to admit our ignorance. Some of the problems could be deliberately
maneuvered and implanted by some of us who do not want the communities and
religious institutions to survive and sustain. Some of us may forget that we
are all brothers and sisters from one country, one people with one identity
with one name and we call ourselves 'Eritreans'. It is evident that we are
diverse people, but not that much different. It is possible that our
thoughts can be opposites in certain things, but not antagonistic in
everything. There are a lot of similar things that bring us together more
than different things that put us apart. To have positive thoughts that
transcend all decency of human behavior, the following instances will
illustrate the initiative of cleansing and understanding ourselves.

Over one weekend in Trinity church in Lansing, Michigan, a pastor gave a
wonderful Sunday sermon. He brought to church a package full of dirt. He
took off his top garment and spread the dirt on his clean blue shirt and
pants. He then sprinkled some dirt on his bald head. He displayed himself in
front of his congregation and said, "Everyday, we all pick up all types of
dirt from around us. We all look clean from the outside like the way I was
with my garment, but we are not at all clean from the inside as you see me
with my dirty clothes". By relating the dirt on his clothes to human
character and behavior he continued to say, "This is how we look from the
inside, unkind and insensitive to each other." Certainly, his impressive
sermon gave them ideas to ponder and evaluate themselves. His sermon was
indeed a vivid reflection of how the drive to purity, dignity, and integrity
brings spiritual cleansing in life.

In many instances, some of us pretend that we know much when we know little.
We pretend that we are in the right community while the other person is in
the wrong community. We think that we usually know the right politics while
the other person follows the wrong politics. Some of us think that we pray
to the right God while the other person prays to the wrong God. As the
pastor indicated in his profound sermon, we pretend to be clean from the
outside when we are not clean from the inside. If we cannot see each other
eye to eye, or sit together around the same table and discuss our problems
with decency and civility, we are not that different from those animals in
the wild kingdom. We forget that politics, religion, community, and
household have their own appropriate places in our society. We should be
able to separate political or religious affairs from our community affairs.
If we are convinced that we should win others to our own views, we should
reach out to them with sincere and kind words and respect. We can never
convince and influence each other by igniting hostility, animosity,
squabbles, quarrels, and enmity. We can not solve our problems by suing each
other and going to court or to the police station and spending thousands of
dollars for court cases. The point is that if we do not admit that we may be
wrong and that someone else may be right, and if we do not respect the views
of others, which may very well be right, though different from our own
ideas, we cannot come together to a mutual understanding and work together
for the common goal.

That same pastor in Michigan is very keen in conveying his spiritual message
to his congregation by making a creative demonstration. In another Sunday
sermon, he brought a big tent to the church and assembled it nicely in front
of the audience. In the middle of the sermon he went inside the tent and
closed the entrance door from the inside. Then, he came out of the tent and
said, "Most of us would be comfortable inside the tent because it is nice
and warm and nobody bothers us". He continued by saying, "We sometimes put
our heads out of the tent and watch around, but quickly we go back to our
safe tent and claim that it is risky to go out of the tent because outside
the tent there are people who do not have food to eat, people who do not
have clothes to wear, people who are too sick to do anything, and people
whose marriage is failing." Then, he concluded by saying "But God brought us
to this world so that we go outside our tent and spread His kindness and
reach out to those people who need our help desperately." His sincere
message urged his congregation that if they cannot be a thousand people to
solve the problems of the millions of poor people, they can still join the
thousands of people who do the right thing to make a difference in the lives
of millions of poor people. The pastor was very practical and enthusiastic
and his sermon was sensible, educational, interesting and challenging to

Likewise, we cannot close our doors and live in isolation by putting big
fences around ourselves to stay away from our own people. We cannot pretend
to be somebody else other than Eritreans, even if we try to change our
shapes and sizes. We may think that we are highly trained professionals and
scholars, or we are financially wealthy and mighty and feel that we are
quite independent. No matter what positions we may hold what kind of
financial or property we may acquire, we still need our own community and
religious institutions to cherish our own identity and honor our
belongingness to our own people. Certainly, we may have all types of
problems among ourselves that may frustrate us, but we cannot avoid our
problems by isolating ourselves away from our own crowd. We cannot solve our
problems, if we do not join hands and minds together and actively
participate in the affairs of our own communities and religious

It is evident that we may have problems with our children, problems which
are usually caused by parents. We usually fail to understand that our
children are raised in two conflicting cultures. As parents, we try to
impose the kind of culture we grew up with and the children embrace the
culture of the country where they are growing up. The parents fail to make
the balance between those two cultures by educating them with both cultures.
Consequently, numerous conflicts arise between the children and the parents.
The children may go the wrong way out of frustration and desperation, or due
to lack of proper guidance from the parents or due to certain
misunderstandings between the children and the parents. It may be very hard
for us to honestly admit that our children who went astray are usually the
victims of our mere arrogance or ignorance. A lot of our problems with our
children can be solved in our own communities in collaboration with our own
households. If we want our children to be protected and nurtured, we need to
bring ourselves together and solve our problems in our communities and
religious institutions. Otherwise, indifference forms negative patterns in
our lives - 'menEsey yiteHalo bHazen keyKulo (wey kenKulo).'

Some of us may think that we do not need to be bothered as long as our
children are safe and sound. Others think that they will never have problems
with their children, or they just wait until the problem knocks at their
doors. When it comes to children, we have to think that the problem of one
Eritrean family is the problem of all Eritrean households irrespective of
any political or religious affiliations. If "the whole village raises a
child" in Eritrea, similar cultural practices have to be applied in our
communities in Diasporas. Thus, if we really want to cultivate and embrace
our children and nurture peace and harmony in our own households,
communities and religious institutions, we must first cleanse our dirt from
our inner selves. Given the objective reality of our current situation in
our communities and religious institutions, a spiritual prayer to the
Almighty God/Allah for a helping hand is quite appropriate.


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