Peace and stability
By J. Patrick Flomo
“…They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks…” (Isaiah 24)
The tsunami of urban unrest propelled by economic inequality and uncertainty, poverty, corruption, and social injustices sweeping the globe should be of great concern to all Liberians because of the nation’s fragile peace and stability. According to the New York Times, from Port-au-Prince to Lebanon, Bolivia, Chile, Iran, Sudan, etc., cities have been paralyzed by these protests. In some cases, they have brought down elected governments, e.g., Evo Morales of Bolivia.
The lifestyles of opulence of the political elites in these countries mired in massive poverty, corruption, and joblessness are the root causes of these social unrest. At worst, the political elites’ lifestyle is paid for by the country’s resources and not by the sweat of their brow. This is what angers young people the most and prompt them to violent protest. And also, governments seem oblivious to the needs and demands of the people. Liberia is not immune from these causes.
The infectious diseases of avarice, vice, and gluttony are the carcinogenic transgressors that have corrupted Liberian elected officials from William V.S. Tubman (1944 – 1970) to George Weah (2017 –). Until we can find the precise chemotherapy to treat this cancer, no amount of street protests will alleviate us from the swamp of poverty and social degradation we find ourselves in today.
The right to free assembly to petition the government for redress is enshrined in the constitution; therefore, the government cannot deny the people this right. However, the government is obligated by the constitution to maintain law and order and to protect lives and property. The right to protest and the obligation to protect lives and property is a precarious balancing act that does not always succeed. To this end, and if the rumor turns out to be true, both the government and protest proponents must observe the rights and responsibilities of each other. LET’S REMEMBER THE 1979 RICE RIOT exercised by Progressive Alliance of Liberia and the aftermath. The fire and brimstone protests of the 1980s and 1990s produced horrific scars and national psychological trauma. Liberians everywhere should be deeply concerned about any event that may have the potential to upset the current fragile PEACE AND STABILITY.
The election of George Weah is one of the failures of democracy and we just have to bear the wraths of his incompetence until the next presidential election, short of him committing high crimes, and misdemeanors, bribery and treason. We were fully aware of his inept ability to govern Liberia and yet we elected him as president. Until he abuses the power of the presidency or the constitution, we cannot force his resignation. While it is true that Weah is incompetent, so too is the Legislature that is filled with sycophants.
Our Republic is deluged with massive poverty, economic injustice of unprecedented proportion, inept governmental institutions, and endemic corruptions (resources, ethical, moral and spiritual). We must answer a higher calling for nationalistic, and patriotic Liberians with the highest fidelity to the rule of law and constitutional principles. This is a moment of spiritual and political AWAKENING in Liberia.
Liberia does not need more street demonstrations. It needs a vigorous civil debate on the questions of corruption, economic inequality, unemployment, the environment, education and healthcare, etc. and election of the most competent and patriotic men and women to solve our problems. If this fails to achieve rule of law, economic equality, and social justice, then we should resort to the maxim of Thomas Jefferson – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal—endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted,– deriving their just Power from the consent of the governed,–that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”
The Author, J. Patrick Flomo, is based in Columbus, Ohio and can be reached on (614) 707 3636 or [email protected].