By Teodros Kiros ( Ph.D.)
In accordance with spiritual modernity, first articulated by Zara Yacob, the Tigrean-Ethiopian philosopher of the 17 century, the devastated Tigray needs a New Thinking as the corner stone of rebuilding it with purpose, relevance and meaning which must inhabit its desecrated lands. This project is not an easy undertaking but is a categorical moral and political imperative.
I should now like to articulate the content of this New Thinking, as I call it, on three levels, (a) its public form among the people, who matter most, and who lost their lives in search of sovereignty, ( b) the entrenchment in the habits of the previous party, which spoke on the behalf of the people, at least appeared to be so and finally (c) the new intellectual elites who claim to be the voices of New Thinking, when in reality they are renewed forms of the Old Thinking popularized by TPLF.
- By New Thinking, I mean a thinking that begins the project of newness by searching its soul, and making sure that its soul is in good condition and that it is continuing to examine itself, as an imperative spiritual exercise. This self-examining soul does not point at others. It points at itself first, and only after that, can it use itself as a measure and demand that others do the same, if they can, and if they are willing to do so. For such persons, if there are such, self-examination is a necessary and sufficient condition for the possibility of cultivating New Thinking. New Thinking is a potential towards which we Tigreans must grow. We are not born as persons, we grow to become persons. On this measure New Thinking, like personhood, is a possibility that we must consciously cultivate. This New Thinking requires, Exemplary Leaders, which we do not have, but we must cultivate them, if we are to rebuild a New Tigray, which must be embodied in new leaders for whom New Thinking could become a motivating attribute.
(b)My observation is that self-examination is not part of our civic virtues, but the New Tigray must be inhabited by those who are willing and committed to embrace New Thinking, because our dire Tigrean condition exacerbated by the civil war has only taught us to point at others and not our own souls first. This challenge is a categorical imperative. We must first be willing to change, and them commit ourselves to do what we must and cultivate the persons we wish to be. Choice must be resolutely followed by change.
The old party is saturated with old thinking, distrustful of the genuinely educated Tigreans, whose works we do not know, and yet we judge them from a distance, without research. We live in a society that does not encourage reading, writing or authentic dialogues. We willfully block, ridicule, imprison, harass and ignore all those who disagree with us. We divide churches, groupings, parties on ethnic lines, by going to the level of villages, and give individuals virtues and vices on the basis of the villages from which they come. These practices are the content of Old Thinking, which refuses to die, and is destroying Tigreans inside out. It is precisely this corrosive and outmoded thinking, the opposite of the requirements of Spiritual Modernity, spearheaded by Zara Yacob, which we must consciously and resolutely cultivate, or else Tigray will not be fully restored. Yes we can restore the building and factories in time but not the damaged souls of its people. The latter restoration demands deep spiritual cleaning guided by the Heart.
©After recently attending a two day meeting of Tigrean scholars which I attended dutifully and made several attempts to participate by raising my hands and was willfully ignored, I despaired and realized that Tigray is in serious trouble. My intention was to engage the current leader of the Tigrean people in a genuine dialogue, but was willfully blocked with several others who wanted to do the same.
This event reminded me of TPLF’s worn out tactic of choosing its own fake scholars who grew up under its leadership and have internalized its old habits in a new form. They are surely young but their ideas are replicas of the old thinking, with its self-serving agendas and jargonistic language, a hybrid of English phrases and belabored Tigrigna words, repetitive, long and mostly irrelevant with all kinds of technocratic staff aiming at making money when NGOS begin to bombard Tigray.
This is not what Tigray needs. Tigray needs modern spiritual thinkers unafraid of new ideas based on the demonstrated accomplishment of its genuine and globally respected scholars who teach and write books, and not merely convene two day conferences which achieve nothing other than impress one another.
The New Thinking I am calling for must be genuinely inclusive of scholars with demonstrated abilities in books and international recognition, and not merely a gathering of clannish, close minded so called scholars, chosen by the old party and pushing its old ideas in new forms.
The Tigrean people must challenge this and demand that we think and act courageously as we rebuild the New Tigray we want and retire old ideas and replace them with new ideas propelled by New Thinking.