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November 17, 2017

Conundrum: Making a Difference Without Monetizing Injustice


A friend texted me the other day and said “go Teddy, you are on fire this week!” His words were encouraging; it feels good to get an affirmation that our efforts are being noticed and are appreciated by others. Yet, something about the text made me reflect and pause. A long time, before my partner in the Ghion Journal journey encouraged me to launch this website, I was confounded by a deep conundrum. When I finished compiling a collection of poems for my first book “Serendipity’s Trace”, I found myself repulsed at the thought of selling the book and my story along with it.

Let me give this conundrum of mine a back story. A long time ago, before innocence was shattered, I wanted to be a minister of sorts. I channel my inner Sophia from Golden Girls and recount my story. Picture this, it was the early 1982. I arrived in America as an immigrant as an eight year old and fell into a state of despondency. Ennui became my new normal as the daily routine of being teased for my accent, ridiculed for wearing donated Salvation Army bell bottom pants I wore to Mount Vernon elementary school and the struggle to fit in inculcated a deep sense of sadness in my heart. The once gregarious kid that I was in Ethiopia was replaced by a sullen child as I withdrew to the shelter of TV in order to escape the discomfort of gravity.

Television became my new best friend; cartoons like Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny offered a pathway to happiness where a life of a refugee gave me nothing but distress. Then one day, as I was flipping through the VHF channels on a Sunday morning, I landed on a guy who was shedding tears. In the midst of adopting English as a second language, his tear drops were a dialect I understood with instant fluency. From that moment on, Jimmy Swaggart was my rock of Gibraltar; my father was always at work so Swaggart became my adopted father in my dad’s absence.

Then, one day, thunder cracked silence. Breaking news lead to a breaking heart as reports of Jimmy Swaggart’s fall led me on an exodus away from my hope of one day being just like him. Swaggart was caught with a prostitute! Before I was old enough to understand, the sins of Swaggart’s flesh shrouded my spirits with resentfulness. From that day on, I decided to rebel and stop trusting the one constant in my life I had depended on since I could remember–I walked away from the love that is inside all of us. I let the failure of one man become my excuse to be all about self. This was a decision that followed me until I finally realized at the age of 41 to go back to the source of my once happiness.

It takes wisdom to understand the folly of our youth. Alas wisdom is only earned through crucibles and brokenness. After two and a half years of walking in shadows, I’ve gained enough to understand that everything is not about us. Yet, past distrust still clutches at me. The memory of seeing people using the pains of others for their own benefit and seeing pastors and preachers leveraging religion to deceive the masses has made me a purist of sorts when it comes to the matters of helping others. I am loath to use my gifts to feed myself, I would rather feed others instead of deploying charity as a business model (read My Legacy; My Love).

Here is a bit more wisdom I picked up over the years. The things we run away from are the very things we become in reverse–life of polarities is a life of misery. The blessing is always in the middle; extremism in any form is nothing more than selfishness. In this context, those who give too much are just as problematic as those who take too much–both do so because they are serving their own egos. Thus, my quest to be a purist and refuse to let my talents bear fruit is is just my way of saying “I am not them”–in the process I let potential go to waste.

Trying to find the middle ground is my test but I am making progress nonetheless. A friend once told me “Teddy, all of us are enslaved, some of us are just blessed enough to choose our enslavement”. She said this in light of my reticence to sell my first book. I see what she meant now, either we become slaves to our jobs or we become slaves of charity. I thus move away from being puritanical to being reasonable, it is for that reason I decided to “monetize” the Ghion Journal. Though I did so while retaining original intention and the reason I started this website to begin with.

The industry of news and mass media has been hijacked by Wall Street moneyed interests. The minute news outlets take a penny from Wall Street, they cease being a free press and instead become infomercial hubs. After all, how can people who collect their checks from power be trusted to speak truth to power. So I am attempting to thread the needle at the Ghion Journal. While I understand that resources and money are needed to keep this portal a going concern and to broaden our reach as a news publication, I refuse to take a red cent from corporations. We actually decided to take it one step further–Ghion Journal will forgo advertisement revenue all together.We are instead putting our trust and faith in the people. We want to be a news publication for the people by the people because we are walking with the people. I, and the fellow writers at the Ghion Journal, are not wealthy pundits pontificating behind ivory walls. We are just like you, the bottom 99%, who write about current events and trends through the prism of the working class. We are not rich and famous, we are one of you. Ghion Journal has grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of months thanks to the effort and support of the “commoners”. Instead of being powered by the powerful, we are powered by the people. Ghion Journal is the water in a world being consumed by hatred–fitting since the Ghion is a river of life in my birth land.

Consider this article a call to action of sorts. We are eternally grateful to our readers who have believed in our mission and purpose enough to contribute to our cause. While none of us at the Ghion Journal envision getting wealthy from this endeavor, we nonetheless ask you to empower us as you can. Below is a contribution drive we started for the month of September with the goal of raising enough to cover our costs and enhance our production capacities for the website and the podcast arm that we call the Ghion Cast. Going forward, as you are able, you can always contribute to the Ghion Journal by going to the “Empower US” tab in the menu or by clicking HERE. make sure to see the Ghion Cast below that explains our model and our mission).

We are Powered by the People, Corporations are NOT Welcome Here

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As we say in Ethiopia, amesegenalew. Thank you for your continued support and your belief in our purpose. We aspire to be a gathering place for free thinkers. It is easy to get rich and famous by speaking to our angers and our grievances, our aim at the Ghion Journal is to speak to our connected struggles and our common hopes. We hope you continue coming back and spreading our message to others. We can make a difference in this world, we do so not through hate but through love and by empowering one another. #GhionJournal

None is greater than the other; we are all greater when we love and be kind to each other::

If you love the work that we are doing here at the Ghion Journal and support independent media as a whole, share this article on social media using #GhionJournal. Additionally, if you have a passion for writing and want to be a part of the Ghion Journal, go to the “Write for Ghion” tab or CLICK HERE to find out how. Until then, may many become one love.

Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss the mission and purpose behind Ghion Journal and our audacious journey to make a difference in this world. Join us and be our second. 

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Teodrose Fikre
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Teodrose Fikre

Founder at Ghion Journal
Teodrose Fikre is the editor and founder of the Ghion Journal. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Teodrose Fikre
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