An Existential Imperative


We have a rather existential question. What if the world as we know it changed? Overnight.
For example, What if we could no longer import food from our regular suppliers? Or from anywhere for that matter? How would we manage? If our regular suppliers could no longer supply us in the quantities we need, food prices would go through the roof! This in a country where a large percentage of the population already lives below the poverty line.
What if, God forbid, Guinea had a natural disaster? They would hardly be able to feed themselves, let alone us!
Then what if, at the same time, the United States faced a national disaster that effectively shut down the global banking system? That means we would effectively be on our own. No aid of any kind coming in. This nation, which calls itself sovereign, would finally be forced to stand on its own two feet. Organic. Au naturel. Would we be ready? How would we operate?
This picture is not intended to scare the populace, but to force us to think outside the box in which we have placed ourselves for so long. It is intended to change the idea that whatever happens to us, some humanitarian benefactor, whether it be nations, world bodies or NGOs, will fly in to the rescue by way of military missions, food packages, and millions of dollars in humanitarian aid.
What if all of the aforementioned were no longer available because the world had changed so drastically? Is that what it would take to force us to stand on our own two feet?
This picture is intended to create a new mindset of self-sufficiency and independence because the scenario described is entirely possible.
We cannot hold on to the idea that things as they are – the world as it is – will hold constant. Not all change is gradual. Sometimes change arrives in a flash without so much as a warning sign – especially if one is not looking for one.
In Liberia, however, we do not seem to have considered these truths. Our entire governance system and economy is set up not to be able to function without foreign assistance. We have no Plan B.
And so we find that governance by design is not just a good idea. It is an existential imperative.
In practical terms then, what does that mean for us? When UNMIL is no longer around, do we simply implode? When USAID is no longer around, do we go hungry? Do we cease to function as a nation-state? No. We need a plan. An internally sustainable one. We need a plan from the household level to the governance level. A plan that enables us to function independently as a nation-state should no external factors hold constant.
In practical terms, that means prioritizing agriculture. It means redesigning our health services delivery system. It means setting up a system that operates cohesively; a system that anticipates scenarios and outcomes. It means off-grid, renewable alternatives. Prioritizing wind and solar. Our advantage is that we are on the coast and in the tropics.
It also means participatory governance. The bringing together of ideas in light of the fact that we sink or swim as a nation-state.
If we have not done it as a matter of good governance, then let us redesign our nation-state as a matter of existential imperative. The world as we know it may change; and we may have no warning. Except this one.



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