What is happening at present within the Eritrean opposition forces can aptly be described as entropy, a waste of energy that could have been used to topple the dictator.
Entropy is disorder. If something is not being used to its utmost capacity, it is because there is a sort of disorder in the system. Take for example an army. A small but orderly and well-disciplined army can vanquish a large, well-armed but disorderly horde; for order is by itself force, and force can be used to move mountains.
A well disciplined, streamlined and orderly Spartan army could rout a horde of mercenaries reinforced by a motley contingent of forced conscripts under the Persian Empire.
Because order is the property of a perfect system, and since any system works with an aim and a purpose, it follows that to have a clear vision one has first to create order. There is no vision in confusion, but once order is maintained, aim and purpose can easily be established.
If you leave things to their fate, the law of nature decrees that entropy creeps in i.e. disorderliness prevails and energy is dissipated. But if you make conscious and determined efforts, supplemented by sacrifice and self-effacement, simply to put things in order, the result is that energy is conserved and one can use that energy to change things.
A plant grows, so to speak, through negative entropy. When it dies and wilts, it more or less undergoes entropy, the dissipation and disorderliness of energy that has helped it to grow in the first place.
I have heard some people argue that if there is division and diversity in any organization, that by itself is a sign of democratic health. The opposite, they say, is exclusiveness, intolerance, despotism and tyranny. But division should be a means and not an end. If division is used for the purpose of finding the truth or to strengthen the basis for further understanding and harmony, then it is to be praised. But if division is used to create further divisions and misunderstandings, it must be avoided at all cost.
Unity in diversity should not be confused with diversity in unity, for if the first strives to see harmony in divergence, the second simply exploits the diversity or differences in an already ongoing process of unity.
When Eritrean refugees from the various camps in Ethiopia came to Addis, it is said that they spread themselves thin over the various Eritrean opposition organizations in the capital. The youthful energy that could have been used to change things was hopelessly dissipated until it finally changed into negative energy affecting, later on, Eritrean civil and political struggles going on in their adoptive countries.
What are the problems on which the opposition do not see eye to eye? They are mostly secondary issues. Some of them remind me of the goat-behind-the-millstone (met’hani) story told in our country. The husband wanted to buy a sheep a week before Easter. The wife agreed. But the husband wanted to tie it behind the millstone. The wife disagreed.
“You can tie it behind the millstone only by stepping over my dead body,” she snarled.
“Well, for your information, I will tie it behind the millstone and nowhere else,” growled the husband.
So the wrangling went on late into the night until the neighbors pleaded with them to stop the row for heavens sake. The sheep had not been bought yet, nevertheless it had nearly caused a marital disaster by simply entering their minds as a relevant and urgent issue.
It is also very sad to hear people talk about the wisdom of holding national conventions or conferences in this country or in that country. Well, it is not the country that hosts these conventions that one should worry about, but the hearts and minds that host such national gatherings. With a pure and unstained heart, with a clear and honest mind, with a unified and strong vision, one can hold conferences even in hell. It is not the place, but the intention and the aim that counts!
Furthermore, some people getting frenetic about religion are eager to bring it as an issue for discussion in large social or political gatherings as if such discussions had solved national problems in the past. I am not against free discussions or brainstorming in order to arrive at an understanding, but to make such issues a cause for antagonism, splitting and division is not acceptable.
Well, for your information, when Egyptians (both Moslems and Christians) came out into the streets to demand the ouster of Mubarak, they didn’t do so with a mark of religion stamped on their forehead but with a determination to get rid of the monster once and for all time.
If there is real democracy in a country, if the principles of human rights are stipulated in the constitution, and if there is rule of law, what reason do people have to bring up religion and other secondary issues to sabotage a struggle? If the discussion is genuine and sincere so much the better, but if it is conducted with a hidden agenda then it is a disaster.
A secular state with all the precepts of constitutional democracy and respect for basic human rights is what the people need in order to lead their lives in peace and harmony. In such a country, the questions related to religion or the freedom of worship become redundant, for all these are but part of the basic principles of human rights which safeguard and assure the security, progress, the wellbeing and prosperity of the citizens.
If despite such a future guarantee a political organization still tries to bring up religion as an urgent issue to be discussed in political or social gatherings, then that party is simply politicizing religion. And a politicized religion is a dangerous religion. It refuses to listen to reason and is prone to lead a country to its destruction.
When I say this, I am not belittling the role that religion plays in the lives of the masses. What I am saying is that the issue of religion is already addressed the moment the state adopts the principles of democracy and universal human rights.
I am against, for example, the religious persecution that is being practiced by the PFDJ in Eritrea at present. These people act as if religion is irrelevant and immaterial. However, to me, what PFDJ is doing can simply be regarded as an infringement on basic human rights and nothing else. And this is what one should expect from a tyrannical regime. It is not that the PFDJ are confirmed atheists or that they hate this religion or belittle that one. They are simply undemocratic and lack the basic sense of justice and fairness that are common in democratic governance.
In a democratic state, politicized religion has no place. On the contrary, mainstream religions can go on to grow and even flourish as they please.
In an undemocratic regime, however, and in a police state like ours, politicized religion may be used to rally the masses, while genuine religion, suspected of distancing the masses from the regime, is considered a threat and naturally gets the proper inhuman response form the tyrannical regime and its gangsters.
There are also other sensitive issues such as federalism, autonomy, cessation, etc. that our opposition organisations like to tackle as if they were burning questions. And if somehow they are raised up for discussion they should never be the cause for division, recrimination and innuendos. In democratic states such questions are left for the people to decide. Hence, the mere fact that justice and human rights characterize democratic governance makes their mention as burning issues irrelevant and a waste of time at the moment.
In conclusion I would like to say that our sole aim, objective and purpose at this point of time in our history should be to get rid of the present regime at all cost. This should be our primary task. And this can be achieved only when we refrain from dissipating our social and political energy in divisive brawls and squabbling and come together to work in earnest and with a common vision for the good of our people and that of our country.