Guest Editorial By Rev. Dr. Slewion Lewis
The development or improvement of any nation, Liberia with no exception, is not the sole responsibility of the government, but the citizens as well. As the government has its part to play in the developmental drives of the state, so the citizens have their part to play. In other words, for any country to develop and improve, the collective efforts of the government and the citizens are needed. While the government duties are to provide social services and security, listen to the citizens, place the interests of the citizens above their personal interests, bypassing laws and concessions in the interest of the citizens, seek the wellbeing of all the citizens and not some; the citizens, too, have to be patriotic, law abiding and serve as whistleblowers wherever they find themselves.
Patriotism, which is the feeling of love, devotion and a sense of attachment to one’s country, is the key responsibility of every citizen. With patriotism, citizens place the love for their country above self and seek the interest of the country in every given situation; for patriots are known for their unconditional loyalty and love for their country and feel honored and proud to be its citizens. With patriotism, citizens participate in elections, pay their taxes, protect their country and prevent any damages that may jeopardize the peace and stability of the country. Patriotism is of cardinal importance in advancing national unity, preserving national identity and pride, encouraging civic engagements and driving national progress and development. Remember, while nationalism places emphasis on the inheritance of language and cultural unity, patriotism places more emphasis on values and beliefs with the aim of achieving love for country. Ergo, as the government strives to provide social services and security for its citizens in addition to other responsibilities, the citizens on the hand have to exercise patriotism for national development and improvement.
In addition to being patriotic, citizens have the moral obligation to be law abiding and live within the confines of the laws of the nation. To be law abiding is to obey the laws of the state and avoid any act that the law does not allow. When citizens are law abiding, everyone in the country feels safe, including foreigners who reside within its borders. Similarly, a law-abiding state increases the chances and opportunities for investments and other developmental initiatives, thereby creating more employment opportunities and burgeoning the economy. However, on the contrary, when the citizens of the state are not law abiding, lawlessness takes over and developments are stalled and investors are scared away, thereby suppressing the economy, and the citizens themselves live in fears and uncertainties. Therefore, as the government plays her part in the development and amelioration of the state, it is also important that the citizens be law abiding and avoid any form or manner of violence.
Whistle blowing is another patriotic responsibility that every well meaning citizens are to embody as they partner with the government for the development and improvement of the state. Whistle blowing, which is the act of revealing information about activities that are deemed illegal, immoral, illicit or fraudulent, especially within the public sector, is the responsibility of all citizens. Passing information concerning wrongdoings within a government establishment is a patriotic duty and should be embraced at every level of government and amongst the citizens. Whistleblowers perform a significant service to the state by reporting what they consider to be evidence of fraud, abuse or mismanagement, especially within government run establishments. They are the first line of defense against fraud, corruption and wrongdoings and serve as the most effective sources of information about corruption and other illegal acts. And despite the danger to their lives, families and professions, whistleblowers have proven to be extremely helpful in the detection of corruption and other illegal activities within government or private entities and should be protected and encouraged. By whistleblowing, citizens prevent what a single individual or group of individuals would have benefited at the disadvantage to the masses. Hence, as the government ensures that the basic social services, security and other incentives of the citizens are provided, the citizens also need to help the government by being whistleblowers and serve as eyes for the government wherever they find themselves.
Therefore, as we are about to enter a new leadership dispensation as a nation, let us as citizens cultivate the habits of patriotism, law abiding and whistleblowing and our country will experience the development and amelioration that we long being yawning for as a nation. May God grant us the grace and firmness of purpose to do these things as we crave for the development and betterment of our beloved country.
About the author:
The Rev. Dr. Slewion P. Lewis is an ordained priest of the Episcopal Church of Liberia who currently serves as Dean of the Emmanuel W. Johnson College of Theology at the Cuttington University Undergraduate Program, Director of Theological Education, Episcopal Church of Liberia and Priest-in-Charge at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church in Sergeant Kollie Town (SKT), Suakoko, Bong County.