It all started on a cold December day in 2007. That was the day I stopped being a sideline observer and made a decision to exert all my energies and expend all effort to get Barack Obama elected the next president. I know this comes as a shocker to some who read my writing; you see I was once the very same political animal and a partisan “team player” that I speak against now. In life we grow and gain wisdom by gentle taps and at times by hard whack. No regrets though; I would not know what I know now about politics and human motivations if I did not go through a phase of being a political personality (watch the video at the bottom of this article that shows my campaign video when I ran to be Obama’s delegate in 08).
Not only do I have no regrets; I’m actually grateful that I was once such an integral “volunteer” of the Obama campaign, so much so that a speech idea I wrote was integrated into Obama’s 2008 South Carolina primary victory speech (click to see screen shot of speech) and I was invited to Chicago in December of 2009 to launch Organizing for America. What you just read in the journalism “biz” is called burying the lead. But I digress. The litany of activities and accomplishments I achieved during that time I will leave for another day or another book to detail; the aim of this article is not to genuflect on the past as much as it is to testify of the potential that resides in us all.
So what made me change? How did I go from an MSNBC watching, DNC parroting political junkie to this path of preaching unity and disavowing politics? Well that too is a long story, but suffice it to say that hardship is a good thing in life (read My Legacy, My Love for more on this story). What I realize now is that we, the people, will never get the solutions through politics. We must rise above politics and look within our hearts and realize our common struggle to truly bend the arc of history towards justice. This seems like an impossible task at first blush. Yet one person, armed with tenacity and belief in a vision, can move something more improbable than mountains—one person can move people.
It’s fitting that my first foray into the Obama campaign was an article I wrote to motivate my fellow Ethiopians to get more involved in American politics and asking them to support and vote for Barack Obama. Titled “the Power of One”, I implored my community to realize the latent power that we all have as a people and to turn that potential into something meaningful. Soon enough, I joined forces with Mike Endale and Emebet Bekele and the three of us widened our circle to include thousands as we motivated more and more Ethiopians to take part in Obama’s campaign.
Once largely ignored, the Ethiopian community—whose presence dates back to 1808—finally got recognized for our contributions. The Obama campaign released a letter thanking us for our efforts and asking us for our votes. For some this is nothing to boast about, but for us Ethiopians it was groundbreaking. A country that has existed in tact for more than 3,000 years and that has historical significance; the past 40 years has seen our image marred as most Americans have come to associate Ethiopia with famines and hardship. This is the power of media, stereotypes calcify and biases set in when information is presented from a one dimensional narrative. We, at least for one day, shattered that image as our collective action was enough to get a president’s attention.
These lessons I learned is what I draw on to power the Ghion Journal. Swearing off corporate contributions and refusing to monetizing the website by way of ad revenue is not just blind idealism. I have witnessed personally the power of people put to action. Obama was able to raise record amounts from small donors. Parenthetically, the claim that he raised most of his money from small donors is propaganda that uses statistical fallacy to justify a bold lie because they are counting number of contributions from small donors not the amount of contributions from small donors. Yet no one can deny Obama’s effectiveness is electrifying the grass routs and powering his campaign by way of volunteers. His open network campaign defeated Hillary’s closed network campaign because volunteers like me and supporters as a whole felt like they were part of the staff.
The model I’m attempting to implement for the Ghion Journal is thus not just a theory; organic marketing and grass roots movements are possible if enough “buzz” is created. Too often, the “buzz” is created artificially by moneyed interests. We as a society have been conditioned to be inspired by the elites but rarely are we moved by those who are just like us. If the Corporate State Media pushes people or products, we cast our lots immediately. This is why we keep being drawn to cults of personalities when the change we have been waiting for is for us to empower ourselves.
I speak against politics and disavow both parties not out of emotion but out of wisdom earned through experience. I witnessed the filth of politics from within; I had my fill of it when I ran to be a state delegate in 2008 for Obama and saw how party insiders cheat and play dirty to ensure only loyalists attain seats. But more importantly, I’ve seen the consequences of politics over the past two years. Endless months spent in and out missions and shelters as my life got turned inside out by homelessness has opened my eyes to the way policies fleece the masses while the elites live a life of opulence. We take our eyes off these things; instead of paying attention to policies we get distracted by politics and get sideswiped by our differences. So my purpose and that of Ghion Journal is to remind all of our commonalities and to build bridges between communities. We will do so as we speak truth to power and disavow politics as we stand in solidarity with humanity.
This is where the “ask” comes in—see, I’ve learned a few things from vacuous politicians. The ask is for you, the reader, to join us at the Ghion Journal and help us grow. By help us grow, I’m not referring to just contributions in terms of funding. The same way that the Obama campaign captivated the imagination of millions in 2008, we want you to get behind us and be the engine that drives the Ghion Journal. I want you to be a part and parcel of our story and be fully vested in our continued growth. If we ever become big enough to compete with the big dogs the likes of the Huffington Post, CNN, Fox News and Washington Post et al, it will not be because of the writers and it will never be because of corporate funding. Our hopes and our growth is dependent on you, the readers.
Going forward, I will send occasional updates to our readers with markers, goals and milestones. This week’s marker is 128 “likes” on our Facebook page, 394 followers on Twitter and $141 raised for the fourth quarter of 2017. Our goal is to see if we can get to 1,000 “likes” on Facebook, 1,000 follower on Twitter and $1,000 raised by the end of October. If we are able to do this, it will not be because of the first layer of readers of the Ghion Journal but because the first layer of readers reached out and pulled in more readers and viewers to the Ghion Journal circle. Let this be an experiment of sorts and a small testament of what we can do when a few people decide to act collectively.
Here are some of the specific steps you can take. Primary among them being to use social media to share this article and use your own words as to why your network of friends and family should turn to the Ghion Journal. You know best how to reach your network, you’ve known them a lot longer than I have, by that I mean you actually know them. Beyond that, if you have not liked our page yet, do so (link provided below) and then share our page as a status update and use the invite function to invite others to the page. Likewise on Twitter, follow us at @GhionJournal and then send a couple of tweets, preferably with some of the articles that moved you in the past (you can use this one too of course) and tell people to follow us by mentioning @GhionJournal in your tweets.
So my fellow Americans, are you fired up! Are you ready to go? Nah I did not write this part of Obama’s speech and neither am I trying to be the next anything. I just want to do my part to make a difference and do so by walking with the very people I am writing about and for. Whether or not my audacious dream comes true time will tell, but I’m grateful for the readers that the Ghion Journal already has. I am grateful to you. Thank you. Let’s see who else we can draw to this tiny little website that is causing ripples. Can we do this? I think you already know the answer.
When people are stirred to action, no amount of guns or power can repress the will of the people. One of these days, people who face each other in conflict based on class, race, gender, faith and/or ideology will stand together against those who oppress all. That day will arrive soon, the Ghion Journal will be there to write of it, if you read closely enough, we are trying to write that day into existence. Let’s call this the true audacity of hope. We have enough people preaching fire into the night, our aim is to be the light that leads out of the darkness.
If you think the work we are doing at the Ghion Journal is valuable and realize the value of having independent voices and the value of journalism that is non-affiliated with corporations to act as a counter to the pervasive lies of the Corporate State Media, share this article far and wide on social media using #CollectiveActionPower. Below are the ways you can like our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and contribute to the Ghion Journal as you are able. Thank you.
Like us on Facebook by clicking HERE or on picture below.
Like us on Twitter by clicking @GhionJournal or on picture below.
Contribute as you are able, pitch in as you can.
Follow us on Patreon and empower fellow independent voices by clicking HERE or click on picture below.
We all live and learn, this was me in 2008 when I was naive enough to believe in politics during a time when I thought Democrats were the good guys and Republicans the evil ones. This was before I got the change I could believe in.
Ten years later, after a hard road, I have arrived at wisdom by way of hard kicks. But no complaints, when life gives you a lemon, well you can become a lemon tree planter and gain a wealth of experience for it. This is me now, no longer a partisan, I now stand for unity and togetherness. This video explains the Ghion Journal and our mission.
This is my journey, from broken to purpose, from alone to love, all things heal in time. If you are in a place of darkness, hold tight for a season of bareness in time gives way to a season of abundance.
Check out more videos in the new page that is dedicated to the interviews I’ve gone on to spread the message of unity and amplify the reach of the Ghion Journal by clicking HERE or on the picture below.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij 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. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- Ethiopia’s Choice: Poverty through Grievance or Prosperity through Unity - September 9, 2019
- Bloody 60s: the Decade that Aborted Leadership in America - August 22, 2019
- A Matter of Life or Death: We Cannot Afford to Ignore Mental Illnesses Any Longer - August 17, 2019