I must abandon a false hope now
By A. Beyene, Professor, April 8, 2020
Scammers use “confidence tricks” to exploit the victim’s trust and innocence in order to cache some personal benefits. Confidence tricks are based on creating false hopes such as getting rich quickly, promising miracle cures, etc. Scammers use false hope to manipulate human vulnerabilities when there is little possibility of a positive outcome.
If one hopes for something that is impossible or unlikely to happen, it is a false hope. Encouraging a schoolboy or girl to abandon his/her education to become like Bill gates is ruining his/her future by giving him/her a false hope. Buying a lottery while walking hungry is senselessly acting on a false hope. There are some who think false hope is still a hope. Barack Obama in his Keynote Address at the 2004 democratic national convention implied there is no false hope, but only hope. But I think there is a paralyzing false hope.
Admiral James Stockdale, the highest-ranking war prisoner of US military officer in Vietnam was brutally tortured between 1965 to 1973. Answering to a question how he survived the ordeal, he answered, “retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.” Simply put, he advises to be hopeful, but within the bounds of reality.
In Ethiopia’s scenario, I hoped for elections to clear doubts with or without a viral intervention (Covid-19), hoped for a good deed of the newly forged leaders to protect our young, land, and heritage, hoped for a magic power to release political prisoners and stop torture, hoped for administrators to allow dismissed university students back to school, hoped that leadership respect life, citizens, and scholars, etc. I hoped that the deteriorating situation will stop suddenly; anticipated in earnest that the newly forged political leaders will make a U-turn when faced with the gravity of the situation threatening pace and stability. My hope is born from my naïve perception, – I expected the underlying human goodness to reside in the wrong corners. I had the instinct not to trust, but I was full of hope.
As a backup to my innocent hope, I placed my faith in confidence, on those who drove us this far – the Qerroo to guard us on route to the freedom house built by the Abbaa Gadaas. But the assault on my hope kept coming. While hoping, I cried for the price we paid, – for the victims who perished needlessly, like Obbo Moroda Mosa, an 80 year old respected senior killed in Ambo in October, 2019, the family raped in Dambi Dollo, the young boy slain in Adama, and the tens of thousands suffering in jails while I still hoped. Today, I talked to Obbo Ibsa Caffo who lives in Seattle. Obbo Ibsa’s father, Obbo Buli Caffo Adamo and sister Adde Dammitu Buli Caffo, a teacher, were shot in Dambi Dollo last week by the Ethiopian army while sleeping at home. They were denied medical help, which was difficult under the prevailing curfew imposed by soldiers of the military command that shot them. Both died in pain, while crying for help.
Obbo Buli and Adde Dammitu, like tens of millions of people, lived in a region hated by the government for rendering little or no support to the regime, and sequestered by illegally imposed military command – left incommunicado for a collective punishment while the victims gullibly trusted the regime. I am abashed by the little hope that put me in waiting before I usher my judgement, a candor I suppressed within me for too long, months long. One refreshing paragraph of the last several months is that those who enabled this fiasco are now willing to join the opposition to disable it, to pull down what they once hung so high. So, I say this about the regime that is toddling without our people’s support – it is an adversary perhaps no less lethal than the TPLF, but at least as cunning as the conquering emperors and generals of the last century, more threatening partly because they posture to be from within.
This flashy political bunch has demonstrated that it is less mature than the prevailing situation, and incompetent to lead the country out of the complex disorder. The possibilities we have are, 1) they will change to prove us wrong, or 2) we will prove them dead-wrong by our shear resolve. But our hope that they will change must be abandoned now, let it come as a surprise if it is to come. And let us appreciate those who had the knack not to trust and are today paying dearly for their foretelling instinct. I am aware of the morale consequences of my opinion, but ultimately, sitting too long on a paralyzing false hope will be more painful than a probable gain of visibly entrenching despotism.
Paradoxically, a new phenomenon is forced upon the country by Covid-19, based on which the government postponed national elections. The situation presents a new possibility of unknown quality, offering the Ethiopian parliament the opportunity to make a major correction in the country’s political progression by establishing a transitional government. I am aware there is enough experience and data not to trust the Parliament, and that this too qualifies as a false hope. However, if I were to compare two false hopes: a transitional government versus a government with a one-man show, I think a transitional government is by far better to lure the record back to a realistic hope. Then, who knows – false hope may wondrously become a hope. But in the end, our future, our true hope lies in creating a well-regimented popular organization that can protect our people and say no to any cradle of tyranny. That is a realistic hope.