Unfortunately, as most of our world is striving to become a place of equality and full human rights, the Ethiopian government is not facilitating this effort. There was much hope that the government would ease its crackdown on dissent during the May 2015 elections. However, this was not the case. Any opposition led to intense consequences. Journalists and bloggers of the media talk about their specific experiences during this time in the following video.
The United States is making an effort to stop this discrimination and suppression of opinions by the government. Inequality also arises from environmental problems as well. For over 50 years, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a United States group, has taken action in responding to natural and man-made disasters affecting Ethiopia’s most helpless communities and their human rights. They have helped to restore Ethiopia through non-food aid in the form of agriculture, livestock, health, nutrition, and water. They provide support to farmers and entrepreneurs and promote gender equality as well. CRS has helped to spread equality throughout Ethiopia, ensuring that the most helpless people receive assistance.
In a speech, Elizabeth tells a story of her as a little seven-year-old girl, standing barefoot at the edge of the ocean. She was with three old Hawaiian women who would always take care of her and her sister while they were at work. Elizabeth and these women would watch the moon rise from the horizon and the tides shift. She was impressed, as her elders knew every stone and curve of the bay. They would plant and fish according to lunar cycles and intimately speak to the winds and the rains. Elizabeth did not realize how much this very moment would become one of such great significance when she grew up.
Elizabeth never thought she would be an anthropologist. However, she wanted to bear witness to that which was vanishing. She watched her elders yield to an encroaching culture, a culture that misunderstood them, a culture that was suspicious of their practices and power. These people would keep to themselves, in fear of speaking up and standing out. This was their way of surviving and Elizabeth resented that. In her speech she later says that in photos in magazines, specifically National Geographic, she saw cultures that knew the language of the wind and rain, and who would find their way home by the stars.
Elizabeth really started to realize how much each different way of living is important to each and every person. If we really believe in equal human rights, why should people feel embarrassed by their traditions? Elizabeth’s main message is “to remember, to remember our way home, to remember that we are enough just as we are, and to remember that we are children of the Gods.” All in all, we should not be afraid to be ourselves and practice our own customs.
It is essential for everyone to display mutual respects towards one another’s beliefs and rituals. Along with this mutual respect, comes preserving one another’s homeland. As discussed in my previous blog, global warming is affecting the land of various societies. Under the principle of human rights, one should be able to keep their customs and the land they live on, for land is more than just a piece of property to most people. It is a feeling; it is home. Taking away someone’s land or making it a place where it is impossible to survive is not fair. Human-induced climate change is hindering this freedom to protecting one’s own land, which is not providing everyone with his or her individual human rights.
In Farish Noor’s writings, in the chapter “Beyond Eurocentrism”, the author states, “The term eurocentrism denotes the emerging perception within the European cultural, historical experience of European identity as good and all other forms as less good or less advanced. The cultural perspective from which the West views and judges the rest of the world by its own standards is much like the cultural superiority in vogue during the age of Empire”.
He talks about how we have put ourselves into a vicious circle. The different perspectives of various countries are clashing and creating a sense of competition for hegemony. The more dominant, developed nations tend to impose their cultural values as well as their political, economic and military dominance over the weaker ones. However, the weaker countries attempt to hold on to their own cultural and religious traditions, trying to preserve their identity. The leaders of these weaker countries embrace a form of essentialist rhetoric, basing their sense of identity on basic fundamental ‘essences’, which can be understood in terms of cultural, historical, racial or even genetic particularities. This vicious cycle of increasing antagonism, distrust, and defensiveness has become the focus of many, when the more significant points such as human rights abuses and the deterioration of human dignity remain unaddressed. Farish makes the point that in order to halt this never-ending cycle, we need to understand that the world we are trying to save is multicultural, multi-religious, and multiracial. Us, as a whole, needs to learn to see from other people’s perspectives, and they need to do the same in return. Every country has their own understandings of human dignity and values, and each and every one should be appreciated. In order to obtain complete human rights, there needs to be an exchange of ideas and viewpoints instead of just one power speaking, while the others listen. In order to obtain an equalized world, it is necessary for everyone to go “beyond eurocentrism” and not feel as if the way their country does things is superior to every other country.