The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here

By J. Patrick Flomo

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 30, 2012

The impact, spiritualism, and nationalistic motivation for all citizensimparted by the Liberian motto (The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here) have been pondered before. Recently, I have been pondering this question again; specifically, in the context of how a high school civics teacher - or for that matter, a university political science professor - explains to students in 2012 the social, psychological, and political significance of this motto. I write this article to advance a vital debate: the question of the Liberian motto’s social, political, and psychological impact and its effects on all Liberians. The history of the motto is not debatable, but its placement on the national seal and what it means to all Liberians.

A motto is considered an apothegm, adopted as a guiding principle or the summarization of the general conviction or purpose of an organized entity, whether it is a society, corporation, or social organization. Every nation has a motto; each nation’s motto defines the conscience of its people. The motto expresses, defines, and intertwines the collective sense of oneness and direction. Moreover, a motto seems to project an intellectual soul and conscience. For example, the American motto is, “E pluribus Unum,” or “Out of Many, One;” the French motto is, “Liberté’, Egalite’, Fraternité’,” or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity;” the Ghana Motto is “Freedom and Justice.” These three examples express a sense of oneness and purpose for each country. Liberia’s motto seems to lack soul, conscience, or the spirit of intellectualism. Moreover, the motto expresses no sense of oneness or a collective purpose. In fact, it continues to express a divided people: the descendants of former American slaves (Americo-Liberians) and the indigenous population (natives).

I want to further argue that the operative word “liberty” in the motto has never been exercised for the betterment of the citizens over the last 133 years. During the course of the last century, the republic was ruled by 5% of the population (Americo-Liberians) while the 95% was relegated to second-class, non-citizen status for 127 years. In the aftermath of our recent tragic experience - the civil war - a psychological and nationalistic indoctrination is in order. I want to suggest that the first place to start with this indoctrination process is the redefinition of our motto. It should be one that expresses our true sense of oneness, our collective purpose, and our nationalism.

© 2012 by The Perspective
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