by Ben Browne ~ (June 01 2005)
It is often said that experience is the best teacher. Our multitude of presidential candidates must be able to learn from the not too distance experiences of the 1997 election that brought west African nightmare, Charles Taylor to power. When the presidential candidates couldn’t find common grounds to hold together, the worst happened to Liberia. How long will greed and self interest blind the vision of Liberians? Let us note that when there is no vision, the people perish...."
Once a certain greedy man went to God and asked for more land. God asked, “How much land do you need?” “I need all,” the man answered. God said, “ By sun rise tomorrow, you must start from the point you are standing and walk as far away as you wish, but must be back at this same point by sunset, any land that falls within the distance you cover will be yours.” When the man started by sunrise, he walked very far away covering vast distance of land, refusing to stop for food or water, toward sunset he decided to go back to the point he started from. Celebrating in his mind his newly acquired property. Very tired and hungry, he continued to walk toward his starting point, as if the sun was waiting on him, as he reached his starting point, with God waiting to welcome him, the sun set. When he took the last step, tired, hungry and dehydrated, he felled at God’s feet and died. God said, “how much land does this man need, just 6feet by 6feet by 2feet in the earth.”
With five months to the long awaited elections in war-crippled Liberia, it is important to ask, how many presidential candidates does Liberia need? Since the departure of formal rebel leader/president, Charles M. G. Taylor from Liberia, Liberians have listened to or read about people who feel they can do better for the Liberian people only by becoming president. These people include, lawyers, politicians, economist, diplomats, factory workers, soccer star, gambling wizards etc. wow! What a mix but do Liberia really need these people? Many have argued over the time that it is their constitutional right like any Liberian to contest the elections—right. But my concern however is with everyone wanting to be president, who will vote?
It is often said that experience is the best teacher. Our multitude of presidential candidates must be able to learn from the not too distance experiences of the 1997 election that brought west African nightmare, Charles Taylor to power. When the presidential candidates couldn’t find common grounds to hold together, the worst happened to Liberia. How long will greed and self interest blind the vision of Liberians? Let us note that when there is no vision, the people perish. Presidential candidates in the October elections must understand that our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. We must allow our history to deal more knowledgeably with change in our country. Indeed how many presidential candidates Liberia need at this time?
While it may be their constitutional rights to contest the elections, I think it is a political miscalculation on the part of all these contestants not to contest under a united umbrella of two or three parties/candidates. We may again be heading toward the worst happening to Liberia. These presidential candidates must understand that the issues that come first of all to the hearts of all Liberians are the issues that most urgently challenge and summon the wisdom and courage of all. The issues of equal right, equal opportunities, corruptions, nepotism, rule of laws, education, health care for all, save road and water system, electricity, social integrity and many others are those issues that summon us right now, not greed and selfishness in the name of serving the Liberian people. Our presidential candidates must understand that Liberian presently need a unifier who is educationally and mentally equipped to take over the highest office of our sweet land of liberty. A person who is capable of uniting the oppressor and the oppressed, a person who is able to seek the interest of the ordinary Liberian and not just his/her close associates or family, a person who is capable of representing Liberia in the international community with respect, a person who is able to uphold the fundamental rights of all Liberians, disregarding sex, religion, tribe and social status, a person who is able to uphold the traditional values of the people, a person who understand that the constitution divided the entire government into three branches, a person who is credible and able to listen to the concerns of the Liberian people. Regrettably, vast majority of the October 2005 presidential candidates lack these basic skills. It is therefore important that these candidates put their greed and selfish interest aside and start to form a merger for the good of all Liberians. We cannot afford the worst to happen to Liberia again.
It is our duties, as ordinary Liberians to ensure that our freedom is not threaten again. We must put aside our differences and urge these presidential candidates to reasonably unite under the candidacy of three people. As Liberians, we are endowed with freedom of choice and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of the outside world. We must shoulder it ourselves. This pending elections is not the people’s business; it is the collective business of us all. Plato once said, “ Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” With this in mind, Liberians must get involve in the process in our country. Freedom is a package deal- with it comes responsibilities and consequences. Liberians have given away far too many freedoms in other to reach this point in our history. Now it’s time to get back those freedoms through educated, responsible and credible leadership. Nobody can give us this leadership except ourselves, nobody can give us equality or justice or anything if we are going to sit back and say as usual, “It is the people’s business.” We the people of Liberia must let these gravy seekers wanting to be president know that we can no longer be fooled by rhetoric, false promises and popularity. We must let them know that this election will be based on vital issues that have affected the Liberian people over the years and majority of them have no idea of what those issues are; so they must step out, stay out and learn. The presidency is not the only position in the Liberian government.
Liberians must understand that this pending election will determine the path our nation takes. Therefore our greedy presidential candidates who are all like the man who went to God for land, I ask how many presidential candidates Liberia need? I say three. Lets not allow the worst to happen to Liberian again. The more divided, the better the chances of us been governed by the dumb like in the past. This is not about the constitutional right to contest elections as citizen. This is called common sense.
Let us remember that the ultimate question for us to ask is how the generation after us shall continue to live.
About the author:
Ben Browne is a Liberian residing in Minnesota and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org