Bottom up

I had a chance to be with a whole bunch of Ethiopians earlier tonight. And debates ensued, as is typical of such gatherings.

The discussion revolved around, what else, Ethiopian Politics.

One thing I heard, this time around, out of the ordinary is the idea of change, not of the government, but oneself. As one of the guys explained it, it should be so that, we all look ourselves in the mirror and ask what is it that I can do to change the situation, rather than always pointing fingers at the government.

But, others said, how is it that my changing is going to make a difference when the environment is so hostile. Though, they said, changing oneself is good and dandy, it is not as much of a factor to make a change in such a scale to impact millions of lives in a country. Do a good doer, but that ain’t going to help tens of millions, they said.

Where do I fall in this discussion? I kind of like the ‘changing oneself’ idea, as part of an overall activity that needs to happen. A couple of arguments for it: a) An individual can make a difference in scale and scope that would make a sizable difference. and B) Bottom up, grassroots advocacy, is a valid one, if done properly. There are numerous examples – the American Civil Right struggle being one that come to mind right now – that validates the importance of an individual.

Looking inward isn’t a bad idea, especially, when most discussions are blaming others for all the wrongs. What is it that I can do to change situations for the better without being violent against anyone, isn’t a bad question to ask.

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