Happy Mother's Day, Liberia

By Theodore T. Hodge

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 13, 2002

To paraphrase someone, 'a people deserve the government they get'. However, the conventional thought pattern is to blame bad governments on 'bad leaders'. In recent times, we have done our share of Taylor bashing and still do for the unfortunate and sad ride the country is taking under his brutal and uncivilized stewardship.

Many of our past national leaders did a disservice and dishonor to the nation and its people by unjustly enriching themselves and instituting undemocratic and unprincipled 'leadership' - causing underdevelopment and backwardness. Taylor just took it to a new low. He seems to be determined to cause the demise of the country!

In this piece, however, my aim is to play the devil's advocate, in order to get the Liberian people to do a paradigm shift in their thought processes. What if we (Liberians) took a moment to blame ourselves instead of our so-called ‘leaders’?

Is it possible to have a tyrant impose his brutish agenda on an unwilling people? I think not. For a dictator or rogue to run a country into antiquity and horror, the populace must let him - in one way or another, generally through complacency.

The famous Bob Marley sang many a revolutionary melody. One of my favorites was GET UP, STAND UP. In that masterpiece he urged the oppressed to get up and fight for their rights against the oppressors. Liberians don’t seem to have ever heard that message. Or are they just determined not to pay heed? They generally lie down and complain.

From the beginning of time there have been dictators. They come and they go. The oppressed, in many cases, have a say in how long these tyrants last. Through the people’s action or inaction, these unscrupulous, ruthless and selfish psychopaths get their cue - to stay or exit. In many cases, they overstay and the people chase them onto demise.

In recent times we’ve heard about Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran, “Emperor” Jean Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic and “Baby Doc” Jean Claude Duvalier of Haiti. There was also Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania and most recently Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia. Oh, and don’t forget Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. By the way, whatever became of Idi Amin Dada?

In all of the above-cited cases, these ruthless dictators ruled their people with iron hands and attempted to keep them in perpetual servitude while they enjoyed the good life. Eventually the people rose up and the rest is history. As Bob Marley would put it, they people must "get up, stand up and fight for their rights."

I am not naïve enough to think that it is an easy thing for ordinary Liberians at home to rise up against one of the most brutal regimes of modern times. But what’s the excuse for us Liberians living in comfort in the Western world? Don’t we owe it to our unfortunate brothers and sisters still living in the grips of evil to do something? We must work together to bring international pressure and attention to our country. In other to do so, we need mass participation and dedication - not just a few scattered voices here and there. We are in this together and remember history will judge us on this one. We need mass participation now!

It is unfortunate that those many Liberians who struggled and managed to survive and flee Liberia over the past twenty years think the struggle is over. Not by a long shot! I am compelled to quote the great Benjamin Franklin who purportedly said, "Those who seek security over liberty deserve neither." My fellow Liberians, what you get here through good jobs, opportunities and advancement give you security. That’s not a bad thing to want. As a matter of fact, every sane person wants and needs security. On the other hand, what you get when you fight for freedom and justice and democracy in your homeland is liberty. They go hand in hand.

We Liberians living in Western Democracies have a responsibility to unite and redouble our efforts to expose the evil of the Taylor regime and bring international pressure against it. Please stop sitting and waiting for miracles to save the day. We need team work, which someone brilliantly described as "...the ability to work together toward a common vision. It is the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is also the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."

My advice to you, fellow countrymen and women, is to find a local organization near you and support it. If there isn’t one, take the leadership role of organizing one and bringing issues related to Liberia to the forum. Work towards peace and democracy in your neighborhoods while advocating the larger picture for Liberia. The stronger these local organizations become the better our chances of improving the national organizations such as ULAA.

As we celebrate Mothers' Day, let's not forget the mother of us all - LIBERIA. It is a painful reminder that Liberia is dying a slow and painful death. We must come to her rescue for our own sake. She is the only mother we have. Happy Mothers’ Day, LIBERIA.

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