I once wrote an opinion piece discussing a quote that grabbed my attention and resonated with its profound truth: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
This quote speaks volumes about the current state of our country. Learning, as mentioned in the quote, is the relatively easier aspect. However, relearning and, specifically, unlearning within the context of our country, present the most arduous challenge.
To unlearn what we have already acquired and embrace new knowledge, a certain level of flexibility and openness is required. It necessitates acknowledging that our existing knowledge has become outdated, no longer aligns with the current needs, and should be replaced with fresh insights.
Unlearning also demands humility, in my opinion. Those who possess humility find it easier than the arrogant to release what they have learned. This is because they can set aside their egos, which often hinder the recognition that one’s knowledge is not always infallible or all-encompassing.
Humility enables learners to be adaptable and receptive. Unfortunately, even the act of learning itself seems to pose challenges within our society. Undeniably, illiteracy rates have significantly decreased compared to a few decades ago. We now have a more educated population in our country than ever before.
The proliferation of universities in our country has reached a point where many educated individuals are unaware of their total count, locations, and names. While it is acknowledged that a high number of universities does not guarantee quality education, the increase does reflect a decline in illiteracy rates. Our leaders, activists, and opposition figures boast degrees, and some even hold multiple degrees.
However, despite these educational achievements, it appears that learning has become an elusive concept for many.
I often ponder whether the prolonged and devastating war in Tigray has imparted any lessons about the futility of conflicts. What gains, if any, have the people of this country derived from this war? It is widely known that the war has regressed numerous sectors of our economy back to a state reminiscent of decades past. Moreover, the conflict has severed the deep-rooted bonds between fellow citizens who share a common bloodline and history. These reflections leave me questioning whether we have truly learned anything from this devastating experience.
Regrettably, it seems we have learned nothing. Our country finds itself once again navigating another chapter of war, endangering yet another region. This prompts one to wonder: what impedes our capacity to learn? Could it be that those who initiate and finance these wars remain unaffected on a personal level, thus hindering our ability to comprehend the true consequences? They manage conflicts from a distance, while their children remain shielded from suffering, enjoying the comforts of life, education, and normalcy. In contrast, those who actively engage in these wars bear the brunt and make immense sacrifices.
Shouldn’t we, as a society, learn from our past? Shouldn’t those who have courageously fought in wars and made tremendous sacrifices also come to realize the futility of their efforts? What tangible gains have the participants of the Tigray war obtained? Did their aspirations align with the outcomes? Were they adequately acknowledged and compensated for their sacrifices?
Regrettably, the answer remains negative. Then why do we find ourselves trapped in this repetitive cycle? What purpose does it serve? Are we willing to inflict further devastation upon a nation that already struggles to meet its basic needs? Can we genuinely afford to embark on more futile wars? These critical questions warrant sincere reflection, both from those who observe the miseries of war from a distance and those who bear its harrowing burdens firsthand.