By Togba-Nah Tipoteh
In this Commentary, Single Standard means honesty, practicing what you talk and Double Standard means practicing what you do not talk. Practicing what you talk is at once honest and doing the right thing while practicing what you do not talk is at once dishonest and doing the wrong thing. In Liberia, there is much talk about upholding the Rule of Law but there is upholding of the Rule of Outlaw. Let us look at some of these Double Standards and point out ways to get on the Single Standard.
Starting from a religious institution, the Church, there is the Double Standard example of getting women to cover their heads when going for communion but the men are not required to cover their heads. Then, when the women wear African attires, they are allowed to have their heads covered but the men wearing African attires are not allowed to have their heads covered. In fact, in Liberian culture and other African cultures, respectful attires for men anywhere, including the Church and Mosque, show men to be fully attired from head to toe. But when bereaved men wear western attires at a funeral service in a Church, they are allowed to wear their black hats. One day, I was rushing to a meeting with Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and I left my hat matching my Liberian attire at home, for which I apologized. President Sirleaf accepted my apology and told me not to forget it the next time. I appreciated her understanding and acceptance of my apology. At Prayers in Mosques, the women are required to sit in the back while the men sit in the front. India, considered to be the world’s largest democracy practicing country, has a Caste System where a person from the Low Caste is not allowed to marry a person from the High Caste.
With the prevailing male domination, when the Civil War came, men were seen hiding under some places, as mostly boys, girls and young persons were in the rebel groups. While women were out dodging the bullets to get some food for their families to eat, men were hiding. It is from this struggle of the women to get food that the children made the expression: “Mama na kan”, showing their joy when they saw their Mothers coming back home with some food. Thank God fr Mama. Thank God for children. Let us recall the song “Mama, we thank God for you by the internationally acclaimed Liberian Singer Kanvee Adams.The song recalls a situation where a woman did not want her Mother to be seen by her friends because her Mother’s face was burned. One day, her mother sat her down and told her the story of how she got burned. As the story goes, she got burned by saving her child, the woman who was ashamed of her, from the fire. Then, the woman cried and begged her mother for forgiveness. The woman became proud and unashamed of her Mother, praising God by saying: Mama, thank God for you. We say Thank God for Mothers and thank God for our Singer Kanvee Adams. Let us not leave out the ungrateful men who went to school from the sweat of their Mothers in farming and selling in the markets, but when these men finished school and get their fancy jobs, they are ashamed of their lappa-wearing Mothers and stopped them from coming to their offices. What a shame!!
Worst of all, we sing of Liberia as Land of Liberty by God’s Command but we practice Liberia as a Land of Poverty by the Devil’s Command. Under this Land of Poverty, we give to foreigners what God has us as seen in the production of raw materials for export with no value addition, as we import products manufactured from Liberia’s raw materials, thereby promoting the system of poverty generation rather than bringing in the system of poverty alleviation. We produce what we do not consume and we consume what we do not produce. Under this system, foreigners in the commercial sector alone have access to at least USD2 million a day and their local partners in poverty generation have access to at least USD1,000 a day while over 80 percent of people of Liberia remain poor, having access to at most less than USD2 a day. How did the local partners, the national decision-makers, get their positions? We the voters put them there!! Remember the expressions: “You kill ma Pa, you kill my Ma, I will vote for you” and “You know book, you do not know book, I will vote for you”. We voted for the decision-,makers!! Such a bad situation, such a poverty generating situation will continue until there is Fair Election in Liberia so that good persons can get elected to public offices. Good persons have records of helping the poor to help themselves in their struggle for better living conditions. The awareness-raising process carried out by people who love Liberia has to be stepped up with information about the records of candidates in ways that motivate voters to change the electoral system non-violently, through the Rule of Law, so that good persons can get elected for Justice to prevail to get poverty. alleviation instead of poverty generation. It was this awareness that motivated the voters to remove from the National Legislature most of the Legislators of the 52nd and 53rd Legislatures who were seeking re-election. For Justice to prevail, this awareness-raising process has to continue so that frustrated voters, whose expectations have been raised by greedy public office seekers and holders, do not vote, as they did recently for Non-Ruling Political Party candidates to get out their frustrations against the Ruling Political Party. Some of these Non-Ruling Political Party newly elected persons have begun to think that voters liked them rather than disliked the Ruling Political Party, and they have begun to make the same mistakes by giving support to corrupt persons who finance their political campaigns.