All Together, Me First

15 Jun

Crowded market
A crowd equals many people collected in one place.  When all of the people in a crowd hold to a unified mindset it equals a culture, a congregation or a mob.  Depends on size, location and objective.  This is market day in one of the small towns to the north in Ethiopia.  One of the mind sets of any crowd in Africa is: we all get to move forward at the same time.   Any program that exhibits exclusivity and chosen-ness for certain individuals will be met with a degree of ridicule, jealousy, and bitterness from those left out.  When certain criteria are used to determine which people are accepted into “welfare-like” programs and which are left out, it is seen by those excluded as a system for the privileged, for those included.  Exclusivity, to pick chosen individuals for receiving privileges while excluding others is not an easy position to defend in African culture.  They have seen the privileged living high and others with no opportunity throughout their generations, if not by birth, then by politics and corruption.  This is a peaceful, market day crowd.  It could change quickly.  Have a person in such an African crowd who symbolizes government, tribal faction or wealth, announce to the crowd that only those carrying barrels and umbrellas of a particular ancestry will be given a free car.

Ethiopians in this crowd can see the connect between success and work ethic, but there is also the hopelessness that comes when people have the work ethic  but do not have the opportunity.  Entitlement seems to be mankind’s default when there is no hope for opportunity.  Those who have always had opportunity must confess that they cannot say that their default toward entitlement would be any different if they had grown up as a part of this crowd, rather than the crowd of the privileged.  In Ethiopia, opportunity is not a given.  Even when it happens it is measured by comparison with opportunity in the West.  Such comparison builds an additional framework for hopelessness.  It is said that true poverty is having no hope.  “Whats the use!”  Here, one is constantly aware that, the tightrope of hope this country and its people are walking on, is relentlessly being shaken.  Those that can keep their balance, continue on in the journey, those that do not, either jump or fall off the hope rope.  Entitlement…even if you do not have a barrel or an umbrella and a particular grandfather on a particular day.  We’ll all move forward together, …me first.

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