This quote by Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie (1930-1974) suggests that people have a responsibility to act against injustice and oppression, and that failure to do so can have disastrous consequences. This was evident in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (from October 1935 to February 1937), when a powerful European nation as Italy, which was under fascist leader Benito Mussolini, invaded the Eastern African nation.
The quote implies that evil prevails not just because of the actions of the perpetrators, but also because of the inaction, indifference, and silence of those who could have made a difference. It suggests that we must not remain silent or indifferent in the face of injustice, and that we must use our voices and actions to promote justice and human dignity.
In the case of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the mid-1930s, the world stood idle and acted indifferent to the plight of the Ethiopians as Italy sought to expand its colonial empire in Africa and saw Ethiopia as a valuable territory.
Mussolini war of aggression was part of his larger expansionist policy, which were in line with the goals of the the Axis powers. Emperor Selassie bemoaned the ineffectiveness of the League of Nations and other powers at the time to halt Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. Interestingly, the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, along with other crisis, precipitated the outbreak of the Second World War.
In other words, the quote suggests that we have a collective responsibility to stand up for what is right and just, and to fight against oppression and injustice. It emphasizes the importance of being active, engaged, and informed citizens who are willing to take action and speak out when it matters most.