Liberians Need a Chemical and Spiritual Change in Their Mentality, Spirit and Attitude—WHO Can Make It Happen?

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Every student who did General Science knows that a chemical change is far more radical, potent and irreversible than physical change.

At the onset of this Editorial, let us risk equating chemical change to spiritual change. The two, we believe, have the same effect, causing a fundamental change in whatever substance there is, whether animal, plant or purely physical matter.

Let’s start with Jesus Christ. His first miracle was changing water into wine. But that was technically not what He came for. Remember He told His mother, who had asked Him to help the people out, “. . . my time has not yet come.” Yet, out of respect and honor for His mother, He changed the water into wine and it became the best wine served during the entire Cana wedding feast.

He was yet to perform far greater miracles—healing the sick, blind, lame and lepers, casting out demons and even raising the dead to life. These were all profound physical, chemical and spiritual changes.

Far more important, however, Christ came to effect a spiritual regeneration—to cleanse humankind from sin and prepare them for eternal life. “What,” He asked, “would it profit a man if he gained the whole world and loses his soul?” his INTEGRITY?

Here in Liberia, we have seen how so many leaders who had promised us the world, ended up pursuing their own SELFISH interests—theirs, their children and other relatives, their women and today, even their men.

We know of only a few exceptions. The first, thankfully, was our first President, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who before he died willed all his property for the education of Liberian youth.

The second was Edwin Barclay, our poet-President, who did all he could to inspire his people, especially through his poetry. His “Lone Star Forever,” one of the nation’s most favorite anthems, alone tried hardest to inspire Liberians toward patriotism. See what he says in the last stanza:

“Then forward, sons of Freedom, march!

Defend the sacred heritage! . . Be ever ready to obey
‘Gainst treason and rebellious front,
‘Gainst foul aggression. In the brunt
Of battle lay the hero’s way!
All hail, Lone Star, all hail!”

Oh! How so many of us, leaders and ordinary folk alike, have fallen far from that standard and failed our country.

President Charles Dunbar Burgess King (1920-1930) got rich in property, money, etc., and thanks to his friendship with President W.V.S. Tubman, became even richer later, leaving his descendants very well off.

Then came Tubman, who became even richer than King and left a lot of money and property to his descendants. He also left the Liberian economy firmly in the hands of foreigners—a situation that has continued to impoverish Liberians.

There have been four Presidents since Tubman—Presidents William R. Tolbert, Jr., Samuel K. Doe, Charles G. Taylor and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf—and nothing has changed. In fact, under the Ellen regime things have gotten worse for Liberians, not only economically but psychologically.

Foreign businesspeople, especially Lebanese, are now exerting far more political power and influence in Liberia than ever before. Lebanese men rape Liberian women with impunity and even when convicted in our courts of law, are summarily freed and encouraged to vacation in Lebanon!

It cannot get any worse than that, can it?

But Ellen seems not to be finished with us yet. In her Annual Message last Monday, she even urged the Legislators “to propose amendments that would allow any person who meets the required standard to become a citizen of Liberia irrespective of race.” She seems not to realize that with Liberians at the very bottom of the economic and social ladder in their own country, they are in no position to withstand the land grabbing that would ensue if and when such a law is passed. There is more than enough money in the Middle East to buy up every inch of land in Liberia.

So Liberians will become not only poorer, but also landless.

Who can bring about a chemical and spiritual change so urgently needed in Liberia? We need it desperately. It is our only hope of survival. We need someone who will inspire us to change our attitudes, to become patriotic, to love our country and one another, to develop a strong work ethic, and to develop an entrepreneurial and achievement-oriented spirit.

We need a leader who will be truly selfless; who will use power judiciously and with humility—who will be, as Jesus commanded, not our master, but our servant; a leader who is selfless, who will not turn the government—or any part thereof—over to any family member.

We need a leader who will put his/her people first, before self or anyone else; one who will listen to the people and not think she/he knows it all and despises, rejects, punishes or even eliminates anyone who dares to think or act differently.

WHO will that leader be?

She/He must be a Lee Kuan Yu (Singapore) or a Paul Kagame (Rwanda), totally uncompromising against corruption. The rest of the people will be forced to follow suit and we shall, finally, be on the march to progress and development.

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