Tuesday, January 17, 2023
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CommentaryWhat exactly is the social fabric?

What exactly is the social fabric?

Any history or political science student is curious as to what has kept some societies firmly rooted in a particular nation while other societies are torn apart by war and bloodshed. If we closely examine the history of states around the world, we can identify certain states that rose from civil war and carnage, while other states disintegrated into small, petty states.

Germany, the Republic of South Africa, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Vietnam are examples of resilient states that have shifted from a path of violence and destruction to one of peace, democracy, and prosperity.

On the other end of the spectrum are the countries that are still caught up in a cycle of violence and destruction. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and South Sudan are among these countries.

Germany is the best example of a resilient state that rose above the ashes of World War II to become Europe’s strongest and most influential state.

The Republic of South Africa, the Rainbow Nation, is another good example of a state that has recovered from a traumatic experience. South Africa emerged from the horrors of Apartheid in the 1980s as Africa’s strongest and most peaceful nation.

Rwanda is another country that has emerged from the cycle of violence and destruction as one of Africa’s rising economies following the genocide of 1991. Bosnia and Vietnam are also on the list of countries that have overcome adversity to achieve sustainable growth and remarkable peace.

So, what distinguishes those who have been successful in healing as a nation from adversity from those who are still caught up in the cycle of violence and destruction? What characteristics or ingredients distinguish the successful?

Political scientists and sociologists may point to various factors such as foreign intervention, a lack of democracy, good governance, poor people’s representation, and institutional weakness.

However, journalists and academics alike are now emphasizing the importance of social fabric in cementing a specific society or different nations and nationalities in a specific state.

Tim Laurel, the first to coin the term “social fabric,” defines it as the glue that holds society together. People’s bonds can contribute to the formation of a culturally rich and socially cohesive community.

It is a metaphor for how well community members interact with one another, according to Stack Exchange.com. If all individual members are viewed as threads, the “social fabric” is created by having those members interact, thereby weaving the threads together.

The tighter the weave (the more frequently and positively members interact with one another), the stronger the fabric; the looser the weave, the weaker the fabric, and the more likely it is to tear (have conflicts that pit one group against another), fray (lose members), develop loose threads (criminals), and suffer in other ways.

Those countries, in my opinion, that rise above crises and return to the path of prosperity are those whose communities have a stronger social fabric. States that are still caught up in a cycle of violence, on the other hand, have a frail social fabric.

Ethiopia, which claims 5,000 years of history and is home to over 80 nations and nationalities that have coexisted peacefully for centuries, has recently experienced violence and destruction, particularly in the last four years.

People are being targeted solely because they are members of a specific ethnic group. Thousands of people have died as a result of ethnic conflict, and approximately 2.7 million have been displaced from their homes.

As citizens, we must ask ourselves, “What will happen to a country with a long history, one that was the first to accept Christianity, one that welcomed the first Muslim refugees, one that stood for black self-rule and dignity?”

Antonio Gutters, Secretary-General of the United Nations, recently stated boldly, citing the northern Ethiopian conflict, that inflammatory rhetoric and ethnic profiling had torn Ethiopia’s social fabric apart.

Our indifference is, in my opinion, what has weakened the social fabric of our country. We failed to uphold the legacy that our forefathers passed down from generation to generation.

If a government wants more well-rounded citizens, it should look to the educational system and our social fabric, not the defense ministry. Instead of teaching our children to appreciate other people’s cultures, we have planted the seeds of a divisive agenda in their minds, according to an anonymous source.

We have used the constitution to drive a wedge between nations and nationalities; each state acts as a sovereign state with its own constitution and flag.

Everything is starting to become ethnic.

Every ethnic group runs football clubs, businesses, jobs, and social activities. If you are not a member of that tribe, you are automatically a member of the other group, and you are viewed with suspicion and mistrust. The hatred and suspicion-based false narratives of political elites are now spreading to ordinary citizens.

It has become commonplace to hear about a massacre in various parts of the country. The conflict in northern Ethiopia escalated into a full-fledged civil war, straining the already frail social fabric. Although the country did not disintegrate, there are signs of failed states.

So, how can we get the country back on track?

In my opinion, we must work to strengthen the social fabric. The government, influential people, and religious leaders should all work together to rebuild the social fabric damaged by the conflict.

When I say “enhancement of a social fabric,” I mean providing more and better interactions between community members so that they can make more friends, be more involved, be happier, be more willing to help someone in need, and be inspired to keep their village a positive, pleasant place to live.

In this way, we can strengthen the social fabric and fortify our bonds. We can plan trips and volunteer activities to learn about each other’s programs. Learning each other’s languages and appreciating each other’s cultures could bring us back to our former glory.

Dejene Abebe is a Masters student in Regional and Local Development at AAU. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from AAU. He can be reached by email at [email protected])

Contributed by Dejene Abebe

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