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Liberia Today: The need for rigid mental transformation

Jacob N.B. Parley
The Author Jacob N.B. Parley
The Author Jacob N.B. Parley

For a protracted period now I keep seeing, hearing and following some negative developments that border on lack of love for one’s own country.

For every time I take my microphone to people, both prominent and ordinary to actually gauge public opinion on  how we see our country, what are our problems, what is responsible for our problems and how we intend finding solutions to them, the answers are always not the same.

Indeed, the feedback often shows some divergence, the fact that the way people see things differ from one individual to the other.

The other issue is that there will be no harmony in music when everyone signs the same note.
Such expressed opposing opinion on how people see things, respond to and interpret them is also backed by provision in the Liberian Constitution which calls for a pluralistic society.

To borrow from a wise traditional leader, when people are made to bottle up their feelings in any society, such may one day lead to explosion, whether political or physical.

I, therefore, want to hail President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the level of tolerance being exercised by her administration, especially regarding the issue of freedom of expression, as enshrined in the Liberian Constitution.
                                                                                               Questionable Practices/Utterances

My heart is always set on physiological fire every time I see people unleash what I see as unrefined utterances, especially those often made publically.

“When big people are stealing and nothing is done about it, why can’t I steal, too? That so-called traffic light they put down there, me, it not for me. The big people who make the law can’t respect the law. Me, I will do my own.”  

The above are just few of the comments I sometimes hear from people, especially while riding on cars, sitting in public places, or listening to radio talk shows. Who will then take the lead in moving our country forward?

Now, no one should take me out of context by saying I am in support of things, especially negative ones, that have  the propensity to retard our growth and development as a nation. 

Yes, I agree that people who occupy positions of public trust must learn to lead by example, unless they do so, they are setting a dangerous precedence in society.
                                                                                                        When We Enslave Our Integrity

No matter how glaring our laws may be, perhaps there will always be people who do not care for their integrity. By this, they are always ready to engage in any thing that is resourceful, because they want to live the best of life at the expense of their reputation.

Is it because somebody that you graduated along with from the same school is building several houses so, you want to do the same at all cost without first establishing how that person is getting his money?

  It could be that the person you want to measure shoulders with is making more money than you are making, or maybe that person is inflicting a lot of financial wounds on others through criminality just to satisfy his personal curiosity.
                                                                                                 Ignoring the Importance of education

There was a time I was invited by a group of young people on the Bushrod Island to address them on some crucial issues in society. During the forum, one of their colleagues said, and I quote: “It was meaningless for people to go to school, because there are thousands of university graduates in Liberia who cannot find jobs.”

When I was given the floor to respond, I told them that difficulty in finding a job should not be an excuse for anyone, especially potential young people, to acquire education.

You can’t find a  job  right now and tell the people to give you time to run back into the class room to learn, but you can easily  ask for time  to  photo copy your credentials, I told them as nearly every participant nodded his head in affirmative.
                                                                                            Increasing Reckless Advocacy

Today, I keep seeing some form of reckless advocacy and student militancy, because it appears that our society has attached premium to these practices. 

If you are a student leader, who believes in using diplomacy and maturity in addressing issues, there are people who are ready to classify you as a weakling. But as soon as you start setting road blocks, obstructing free movement and bringing economic activities to a standstill, they will say you are a great, brilliant and successful student advocate, or politician.

Liberia’s post-war political environment has shown over and over that some people who conducted themselves in such styles and manner were accorded national recognition in the form of political positions, scholarship opportunities and other benefits. 

So, are we suggesting that one positive way to gain fast national recognition in this country is to become unreasonably   aggressive, problematic and noisy in addressing issues of national concern?
                                                                                             Holding Back Our Own Progress

There are other things people do in this country that are helping to keep us backward as a nation. For many years, we have been yearning for development.

The international community has been very helpful in ensuring that we make progress after years of civil war, but following media reports and on-the-spot actions of certain elements in society, we seem not to be prepared to move forward.

We have been crying for basic social services, safe drinking water for an example, but there are people bent on destroying these facilities, either through willful means, or through theft.

I am told that some people do these things as a means of registering, or drawing government’s attention to their concerns. But I think such habits and practices are uncivilized, because they help to play on our paltry resources,   especially in the midst of resource constraints and competing national priorities.

*When crushed rocks are assembled for road construction or rehabilitation for the public good, some people often take them away for personal use.
*When items are supplied for schools’ use, or relief items intended for us as a country, the next day you see them on street shoulders for sale.

*Despite traffic signs, some drivers are still making u-turn when there are clear inscriptions that no car should make any u-turn at such places.

*There are zoning laws in Liberia, but some of us don’t care to obey such laws; the building of structures in prohibited areas, or in allays around our cities is a clear manifestation of some misguided behaviors of certain individuals in our society.

Such don’t care attitude towards our country’s zoning laws often result into devastating flooding that we squarely blamed it on the Government.
                                                                                                    Decline in family and cultural values

It is becoming a glaring issue that our family cultural values are no longer holding, A typical case in point is the kind of dress code we see with young women; going almost half naked in public places, while young boys wearing their trousers beneath their hips.

Such way of dressing exposes their bodies, especially their body parts not supposed to be exposed.

People, especially teenagers, are no longer willing to take correction as anyone who tries to correct them, or give them pieces of advice is considered an enemy.

If they (teenagers) don’t give check to such person, they issue invectives, or even go to the point of physically descending on the concerned older person to the extent that he or she dares try it again.

*No respect for constituted authority, or older people because   ‘’this is the age of advocacy and freedom of expression and perhaps human rights.”
                                                                                     Increasing Castigation and Falsehood

This is a society in which certain individuals just get up in the morning and say negative things about others without establishing the facts.

By the time such individuals come to knowing the facts, a great damage would have been done to others’ reputation, and normally once the first information gets out there, repairing that person’s reputation becomes an up hail task.

What I see as the most dangerous aspect of such castigation is that the people you least expect- I mean the ones who should be considered educated people are sometimes the very ones who do these things.

I am told that some of the reasons could be political. But whatever the case may be, I think it is unfair to say things about other people without establishing the facts. Stories and lectures from various places of work and communities speak volumes of how people are allegedly penalized on the job based on falsehood.

There have been reports that some people lost their precious lives during the Liberian civil war, because others lied on them for various reasons.

Today there are some managers/administrators are people who don’t like to see certain employees, based on information taken to their offices by other employees.

There are a few managers who would go the extra mile to find out from the accused whether such information is true or not, while there are others who do not care to find out at all.

These are amongst several other issues that keep my heart on fire from a psychological perspective each time I think about Liberia’s current state of affairs. Is it that people think God will send Angels from heaven to solve these problems for us, or lead our country?

                        Domestic Violence and Mob Actions

Despites the increasing advocacy and awareness, domestic violence against women and children is on the rise. At the same time there are people who still believe in taking the law into their hands.

While I may agree that there are times our courts fail to timely and fairly dispense justice, mob action should not be the means of redress.

I am arguing this way, because some people often capitalize on mob violence to get at perceived enemies in society. All of these negative tendencies are hampering the growth and development of post-conflict Liberia.

I am therefore proposing an aggressive and uncompromising mental revolution in Liberia, especially with focus on the young people. I strongly believe that the move will help change the mentality and perception of people.   

For instance, there is this concept that everyone who works in government, or once worked in government, is a thief. This is an unfair comment, because while there have been cases of such kind, there are equally honest people in every government.

Such mental revolution should therefore include people in positions of public trust to lead by example. Religious leaders take up the time and use their preaching time to talk about the need for a better Liberia.

There is a need to teach people good citizenship in Liberian schools. We need to respect and uphold each other’s religious and cultural values. At the same time, we should punish people for actions that are punishable under our laws, etc.
This is my fervent plead!

About the author:

Jacob N.B. Parley is an Associate Editor at Liberia Broadcasting System(LBS)
e-mail: jacobtheancestor@yahoo.com
Tel: +321-886-560-455.



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