Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Rewarding hard work with respect

If more energy was devoted to working hard, as opposed to gossiping, wonders can be done by exploiting Ethiopia’s massive untapped potential. Senseless bickering and malicious gossiping have done incalculable harm to Ethiopia. If from the start hardworking folks been rewarded with respect and accorded recognition for their character inasmuch as for their output and if hard work had been treasured and honored, do-nothing hypocrites and frauds would not have gained the ascendancy. The culture of labeling entrepreneurs who value hard work as ruthless money-grubbers has created favorable conditions for rumor mongers while discouraging industrious citizens. This is precisely why the personnel working in both the public and private sectors have not delivered the results expected of them. Consequently, poverty, backwardness and begging have dogged the country for centuries. Although Ethiopia is endowed with vast arable land, suitable climate conditions, considerable natural resources, numerous tourist attractions and above all a huge human resource base, it still relies on foreign aid to meet the simple needs of a significant proportion of its population; it devotes a substantial amount of foreign exchange to import basic commodities that ought to have been produced in abundance locally; the prices of most food items are prohibitively excessive for the majority of the public. These are just illustrative of the paradox of plenty blighting Ethiopia. All this could have been obviated though if hard work had been cherished.

The political sphere suffers from similar problems as well. Most of the political elite are hell-bent on opening old wounds instead of endeavoring to broaden the political space; they hasten to repeat the mistakes of the past instead of learning from them; and they tear each other down mercilessly rather than work constructively towards tackling the grave challenges confronting Ethiopia posing an existential threat. If Ethiopia’s continued existence as a cohesive polity is to be assured it’s of the essence to avert the specter of a state collapse. Almost all nations underwent the same state formation process that Ethiopia did—making amends for injustices, setting correct erroneous historical narratives and benchmarking best practices. Their citizens put built together strong, prosperous and technologically advanced nations because they put country above everything, succeeded in achieving unity in spite of differences by forging shared values accommodate through the accommodation of diverse interests and views, and rejected gossiping and backbiting in favor of hard work. Ethiopia needs lots of such visionary citizens.

Work places are also beset with a raft of shortcomings. In both public and private sector organizations the rank of incompetent officials and staff far outnumber those who deliver. Smooth-talking deceivers who do nothing useful enjoy more power and benefits than unassuming hard workers, discouraging folks capable of contributing their share. While diligent individuals who are solely guided by the public interest when discharging their responsibilities are frustrated by manipulators operating behind the scene, charlatans allergic to work are groomed for influential posts and greater things. Practically all government agencies are predisposed to say no citing rules and regulations rather than facilitate solutions, precipitating widespread public dissatisfaction. Given responding positively to requests for delivery of service requires the exertion of extra effort and is liable to incur accountability, the agencies are loath to propose changes to unworkable rules and make affirmative decisions to avoid the negative consequences of doing so. Private sector companies as well are peopled with scheming and self-serving sycophants who are adept at nothing but workplace politics to advance their careers at the expense of coworkers. As a result dedicated workers lose heart and are forced to look elsewhere for better opportunities.

The absence of a work ethics has harmed Ethiopia no end. Over 8 million Ethiopians need emergency food aid annually with even more unable to feed themselves properly once a day; close to 30 percent of the population lives under the poverty line; unemployment is running rampart, particularly among the youth; urban migration and crime rate are on the rise as is population growth; the nation’s foreign debt burden is becoming unsustainable even as it labors under an acute foreign exchange crunch; most industries are producing well below capacity; the country’s agriculture sector is incapable of ensuring national food security. Addressing these and similar other chronic challenges calls for a paradigm shift at instilling a work ethics in Ethiopians’ minds. Ethiopia can prosper through hard work, not tittle-tattle. If we do not embark now the urgent task of reforming our pitiful work discipline and productivity, the future will not bode well.

Beyond these handicaps lies hope though. If Ethiopia were to join the rank of nations enjoying good governance, it can do a whole lot for Africa let alone itself. Should hardworking folks be accorded respect, entrepreneurs would flourish, greater wealth would be created, and poverty would gradually become a thing of the past. On the contrary, lack of respect for upstanding and hardworking folks certainly does not help Ethiopians fulfill their aspirations. These aspirations can only be realized when the culture of work and honoring hard work becomes a norm. As this culture takes root the country is bound to reap political, economic and social dividends; there will be no place for sloth, rumor mongering, backbiting, vindictiveness, parochialism, speciousness and other unethical traits. The surest way to achieve this is to reward hard work with respect.

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