A La Andy Rooney: I Like America

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I like America. I don’t love America. The word “love should be reserved for people — human beings. For instance, I like some animals such as dogs or horses, Maybe some animals such as snakes, rats, orangutans, leopards, cats, wild bush cows, and sharks, I don’t like. I like to eat smoked deer meat and all kinds of sea food like crabs and lobsters. I especially like river shrimp.

I like America; but I don’t think that America is the greatest country on the face of the earth or that the world has ever known. I leave that description to American presidential candidates and southern Republican congressmen. Rome was greater in its day than America is now; but they had slaves too. America had black slaves and treated them very badly. Some of our forebears were there, and they came back but brought with them some very bad habits too.

It is extremely difficult for Americans to understand how socially backward their country is compared with the rest of the world. The simple question of universal health care is regarded by right-wingers in the Tea Party Republican wing as a socialist program. Thus America remains the only industrialized, developed country in the western world that does not provide a comprehensive health program for its citizens. The negative attitude in the United States to comprehensive health care for everyone is a holdover from plantation slavery when blacks and poor whites had no access to medical care. Many Americans do not know the social history of their country.

America has just recently re-elected a black man as president of the country and probably will elect a woman the next time an election comes around. The American people are very fickle minded, and they may elect a Republican if the economy is booming. I don’t think we need to copy anything from the Americans just because some Liberians came from there in the long ago days. Some American attitudes are downright ridiculous and many of our people here are in the habit of copying the ridiculous from the West. I refer to the habit of wearing neckties and three-piece suits in our 90-degree plus climate in the hot sun.

President Tolbert, may his sense and sensibilities be long remembered, took the neckties and tailcoats off of us in one of his fleeting moments of brilliant thinking. It is disheartening to see a trend of regression now in a manner that it so unsuited (sic) to our climate and nature that we have again begun to make ourselves a laughingstock of the rest of the world when we have our very own culture dress mode that we are reluctant to use.

Managers and others, including church leaders, should encourage people to go back to the formal (long sleeves) or informal (short sleeves) safari suits called” swear-in” suits, made popular by the late President Tolbert. How quickly we are so prone to forget; but I recall the envious looks Liberian delegations received from other African delegations or westerners when we appeared in our formal ”official” dress of safari suits. One South African told me that he had never seen anything so good-looking as my long sleeved safari suit enhanced with gold cuff-links. At that time Liberian tailors were very good and innovative.

A while back I wrote a whimsical article published in the Daily Observer entitled, “I’m Tired”. It was intended to be a wake-up call to some of the things that were happening in our complacent society that I wanted people to notice and do something about. I was disappointed by the non-reaction to my article. Some people though, were quite enthusiastic about it and congratulated me, but they were few and far between and were people from the section of the society who read the newspapers for news and not only the sports pages. We are so jaded, traumatized and war weary that almost anything goes in our society nowadays and we have become complacent again.

People who drive their SUV’s on the sidewalks and shoulders of the road will pay for scant attention to anything that tries to make things more livable for others. Police who try to enforce the laws are frequently the target of vituperation and may even be summoned by powers that be for trying to enforced the laws passed by the very lawmakers themselves. That in itself creates a climate of “don’t careism” and make it very difficult for others who try to obey the law.

I try to be a regular churchgoer and attend service. I notice that there is a tendency to make the services so long that not only does it become boring but quite repetitive in almost every aspect. All hymns, no matter how long, are sung to the end. The prayers become sermons; the sermons are only good if they last for two hours. The notices of birthdays and wedding announcements are read out even though printed in the bulletin. Granted that some people do not know how to read or write; but there should be some way of getting this information to them without frustrating those who can read and write.

I also stopped going to funerals for the same reasons mentioned above. They are too long and stultifying. Some people do have other things to do besides sitting in church for a whole funeral. A recent funeral I attended lasted for five hours!! I recently went to a graduation ceremony for one of my nieces but had to leave after three hours!! It was just too much. How in the world do you extend a ceremony that should last an hour or two into one that takes up practically half a day? Like that say in New York, “Go figure!”

I pray that our people will become more practical, less noisy and clear the sidewalks. Amen.

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