A rather big word for an editorial, one might say—symbiosis. However, the word has a very simple but serious meaning: a cooperative relationship between two persons or groups.
Symbiosis is chiefly an agricultural term, which means living together or living off each other. Liberians in particular should understand this most, since that is what happens in four of our most important agricultural industries: rubber, coffee, cocoa and oil palm. The fern, a parasite, lives off the dead material from the palm, coffee, cocoa and rubber trees. So while living off these dead materials, the fern helps these trees shed their dead material and become more productive—producing more latex, in the case of rubber.
Can we have a rich, prosperous and peaceful country without PATRIOTISM? No! Patriotism goes hand in hand with peace and prosperity. If the people are patriotic, there is peace. If there is peace, the people are happy, and they will work harder, more purposefully, and become more productive, more successful, and more prosperous—and so will the country.
But what is Patriotism? Webster defines it simply as “love for one’s own country.”
We all know that, but in Liberia, how many of us practice it?
A prominent Liberian said this week that land owners would more quickly lease their land to foreigners than to their fellow Liberians—why? Because we have not developed a CULTURE OF LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER. The same is the case for Liberians in business. The average Liberian would prefer patronizing a foreign businessperson rather than his or her own fellow Liberian. And government leaders would prefer giving the contract to a foreigner than to a fellow Liberian—and pay the foreigner before considering paying a fellow Liberian.
How many Liberians in top positions in international organizations reach out and give opportunities to fellow Liberians? Not many. There was, for example, this highly efficient lady, a former Liberian Daily Observer employee working for the United Nations in Kosovo. And there was this prominent Liberian lawyer from the same county as she, in a very senior position there, too. But when this lady saw an opportunity for a promotion, she went to guess whom? Her Liberian compatriot and senior brother. But guess again: he did NOTHING to help her!
And who was it that reached out to her to ensure that she got the promotion? A European!
Why are we like that? Why are we so mean to one another?
Look around the international organizations. You see many Senegalese, Nigerians, Ghanaians and even Gambians—yes, this little country—with many of their people in top positions, earning big money with which they, in turn, invest at home. Why? Because their people in good positions in these organizations help their own to get in.
So patriotism is not just love for country; but also love for your own people, too. The one cannot go without the other. You cannot love your country if you do not love your people, and verse versa.
So you see the symbiotic relationship between patriotism and peace. When well paid Africans invest in their own country, they create jobs, and jobs bring peace—and prosperity. But where are the Liberians in all this? We need to start LOVING AND HELPING ONE ANOTHER.
There were once a Liberian working in a senior position at the World Bank, and this highly qualified young Liberian woman from the same county, Bong, who was seeking a World Bank job. The senior Liberian demanded that she first sleep with him BEFORE he could help her! She was extremely disappointed—and saddened.
That is what we are talking about. We pray that this editorial will help our people to understand the terrible consequences of not loving our people and our country. It leads us ALWAYS backward, never forward. It brings displeasure, dissatification, disrespect, strife, even enmity—not respect, esteem, appreciation and high regard.
From this day forward, let all Liberians start loving one another—start going out of our way to help one another. This will empower all of us to do better, become a happier, more prosperous, more successful people.
When we start doing this, peace will not elude us. It will come running to us and Liberians’ patriotism will bring us more Peace, and more Prosperity, more Success!