Everyone in this life has to be careful what he or she asks for. That is why it is so important to love justice, mercy, temperance and all the other virtues.
There are so many in the Sirleaf Administration who profess Christianity and should remember most of Jesus’ stories and parables. These are laden (overloaded) with examples of how important it is to be virtuous—to embrace and practice the virtues, some of which are mentioned above. When one is virtuous, one is careful what one does—or asks for.
The Administration now realizes what it was asking for when on Tuesday, February 23 it arrested Vandalark Patricks. They surely got what they asked for—two new heroes on the national scene—Vandalark Patricks and Benoni Urey.
We have for three reasons been repeatedly pleading with the Administration to let Vandalark go: first, though he admittedly opened his loud mouth, he was saying what most people were perceiving—that there was much more than “drowning” to Harry Greaves’ death; second, in certain instances, it is better to give a liberal interpretation to the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and of the press. The third reason: the laws under which they hoped to prosecute Vandalark are highly questionable, not only because they are archaic and draconian; but also because the President herself admitted this when on July 21, 2012 she signed the Table Mountain Declaration. By that signature, for which she received immense local and international acclaim, she committed herself and her government to repealing them.
One human rights lawyer told the Daily Observer this week that in his attempt to plead with the authorities to free Vandalark, he (the lawyer) was shocked to see the authorities’ stubborn intransigence (inflexibility). “It was,” he recalled, “a vivid and stunning reminder of both Presidents Tolbert and Doe’s rigid and uncompromising postures which some of us, President Sirleaf included, personally experienced. How is it possible that they have so soon forgotten?” the lawyer asked, in utter bewilderment.
That is precisely why in an Editorial last week, we recounted the story of Albert Porte’s encounter with President Tolbert and his Attorney General, Oliver Bright. Their failure to compromise, even their belligerence, led to the Rice Riots, then to the coup, and the civil war! Tolbert was killed, along with most of his topmost officials, including his equally stubborn Attorney General, Joseph Chesson. Oliver Bright wisely left the country and died and was buried in exile.
We again quote Edwin Barclay and his alarm at people who blindly and consistently repeat history and end up reaping “legacies of pain.” In the case of Tolbert and Bright and the entire country, it was not pain only but tragedy on a massive scale, near total destruction of the country and internal and external exile for over a million of our people. Also, Liberia almost lost her sovereignty.
Education Minister George Werner, in conversation with the Daily Observer yesterday, remarked that the “mess” Liberian education is in “actually started on April 14, 1979. Parts of the University of Liberia were destroyed on that day; and following the coup in 1980 there was a mass exodus of teachers, professors and other professionals. It got worse during the civil war from which we have not yet recovered,” he said.
We again repeat Barclay’s impassioned, immortal cry:
“O History! Upon thy glowing page,
Time writes her judgments,
But she writes in vain.
Her symbols, man misreads in every age,
And garners thence but legacies of pain.”
Look at the mammoth crowd that greeted Vandalark on Monday when he was released from prison! This obscure Cuttington graduate, who does not even have a job has, thanks to the Administration’s uncompromising stance, been catapulted into becoming a national hero!
And then Benoni Urey, who paid the US$3000 bond for Vandalark’s release.
Many people had not taken seriously Benoni’s candidacy for president since, though an eminent son of Montserrado, he hardly has a constituency.
Now he, too, by identifying with Vandalark in trouble for reasons deemed totally unjust, shares his spotlight and grace.
Remember that during the American presidential campaign in 1960, John F. Kennedy intervened to free Martin Luther King from the white supremacists’ jail in Atlanta, Georgia? That action alone gave a big boost to Kennedy’s campaign. He narrowly defeated Richard M. Nixon!
In this life, every single one of us should be careful what we ask for.