2 Cor. 9:15 “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.” While this gift is beyond description, we are told that many did not receive him. At his birth, “there was no room in the Inn.” This Christmas reminds us again of God’s free offer of forgiveness and abundant life through his Son, Jesus Christ.
I encourage you and your family to enjoy all the magical moments of this blessed season. Celebrate with neighbors, friends, workmates and loved ones, but remember the reason for the season. Give and receive gifts, but remember that the greatest gift to be received is Jesus Christ.
I may have said some of the following, but it is worth repeating. Accepting God’s Indescribable gift frees you from the bondage of sin and ushers you into a position of right standing with God. You are granted the privileged to become sons and daughters of God. Your name is written in “the Lamb’s book of life.” And heaven becomes your eternal home.
Do not be content with just receiving God’s Indescribable gift, but purpose in your heart to reveal his love and will to others around you. Become an instrument of his amazing and incredible love. Allow his kindness and joy to flow through you to people of every walk of life.
Use this festive season to take God’s Indescribable gift public. The greatest birthday gift you can present to the Lord, is to introduce him to others. Make it your goal to demonstrate his love and kindness wherever you go. Because of our acceptance of this gift, you and I can call God, Abba, and Father. Thus we’ve become brothers and sisters in Christ.
What if you could connect people, ignite fresh thinking and create shared ownership for results?
According to anthropologist and cultural experts, our beloved country, Liberia, is among the nations in the global south (not the third world as economists have historically dubbed Africa) that is believed to be highly communal. That is, we are not like countries that are primarily individualistic. While there are arguments supporting overt values of either communalism or individualism, the reality is that prevalent in Liberian culture is the importance of community.
One thing that is central to an authentic community is relationships. In an effort to avoid prolonging the conversation here, I am sure we have heard that in most communities in Liberia, “everybody knows everybody”. This, of course, is being simplistic! However, the truth remains that we believe in developing relationships that extend beyond the biological core family.
While there are many unfortunate instances that have demonstrated our using relationships for personal gains, my intent in this forum is to encourage us to utilize relationship for positive outcomes in community and nation building. We can use relationships (old and new) as learning labs for effective changes in our country. I am confident that we all can utilize our relationships to be positive change-makers.
In future posts, I will attempt to unravel the power of relationships to creating professional networks that would be beneficial to making Mama Liberia accomplish not only greatness, but also to be a significant nation to contend with in our global community.
Dennis Walker, PhD
So, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day I saw the amazing Africa Umoja at the Rialto Center in Atlanta. What a show! Africa Umoja brings together exquisite music, scintillating dance, and theatrical drums to tell South Africa’s story. Beginning with the period when African tribes lived undisturbed on the land, it covers the arrival and eventual dominance of White settlers, the long struggle for freedom and equality, and concludes with current efforts to build a Rainbow Nation. It’s a beautiful story that unites a beautiful people. It’s a story around which millions of people coalesce. It is story told with unbridled excitement and pride.
It really got me thinking about Liberia – the Liberian story. What is it? When did it begin? Really? And don’t tell me 1822 or 1847. But why not there? It’s a fair question. What’s the narrative that units us as Liberians? What’s the thread that holds us together? I have struggled in the past two weeks to arrive at an acceptable response. And it frightens me that a uniquely Liberian narrative evades my imagination! Because without a unique Liberian story – without a distinct Liberian story that respectfully includes all of us – how do we know what to build?
Maybe the absence of a clearly articulated “Liberian narrative” explains the deficiencies of patriotism that proliferates the Liberian psyche. The absence of a well-told Liberian story means that we, as a people, do not profit from the tremendous benefits of a national narrative.
A Liberian story would incite us to nation building, because our story would remind us of where we come from, who has gone before us, and what we have done in the past. We need a sense of our collective past so we can plan and execute our collective future.
In addition to inciting us for nation building, our story would inspire us to take pride in our homeland. I am yet to meet a group of people who scorn their homeland as much as Liberians abhor Liberia. How else can we explain theft in the public sector if not deep hatred of the Motherland? How else should we explain our entrenched inability to build or do anything worth celebrating? Really, when was the last time we did something big as a nation? Nothing inspires us about Liberian because we do not have a Liberian story to tell.
Finally, a Liberian story will help us aspire to a future unfathomable to all observers. Our story will help us believe in a future where democracy, free market, liberty, rule of law, justice, equality, and true Liberian Brotherhood – and Sisterhood – are the culture of our lives.
So, let’s begin to write and tell a unique Liberian story, one in which every facet of society has a voice and equal stake. Man, I want to hear a Liberian story. One upon a time, time…
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Liberia is currently hemmed between commitments to constitutional conformity and concern for public well-being. Both are important. The fight against Ebola is important, and demands our total attention. At the same time, our constitution calls for regular elections, a key feature of our nascent democracy. Navigating this delicate balance is where our government and politicians find themselves.
It is critical that our leaders investigate their own motives for constitutional compliance in a time of Ebola. It cannot and must be that we are complaint because it sends the right message to the international community – important as that might be. Our compliance cannot be based on a desire to save face. It cannot just be about public image, because holding elections while Ebola kills our compatriots has to be about us, and only us. It has to be about our collective future.
I hope we use this platform to teach our children that democracy is so important – existentially indispensable. That those who will inherit the legacy of our democracy deserve to know that nothing, not even Ebola, can or should curtail our values. That we, as a people, will defend democracy with our very lives.
On the other hand, Ebola has already demonstrated its vicious nature. Our temerity to hold elections in a time of Ebola should not cause us to slack. We must remain vigilant. We must keep our eyes keenly focused on Ebola, and continue to devote all necessary resources to mitigate its wrath. It cannot be a case of one eye on Ebola and one eye on elections. No, it must be both eyes on elections and both eyes on Ebola. We can do both, and we must do both. The lessons for posterity are invaluable. Let’s show our children we are capable of doing something big, and doing it right.
Every day in Monrovia, and all around Liberia, thousands of young, well-toned Liberian men rise early and mount a motor bike to ferry commuters from one place to another. These men provide an important economic service, and should be celebrated. I have observed that most of them actually take pride in their work. There is a detectible spirit of comradery among motorcyclists, or “Pen-pen” as we call them.
In spite of their invaluable economic service and strong comradery, pen-pens represent a rising public health challenge. They ride without helmets, and they are generally reckless – weaving in and out of traffic on Monrovia’s skinny roads, or bumpy dirt roads in the country side. Absence of helmets and reckless riding present immediate threats, both to pen-pens and pedestrians.
However, a big, quieter threat lurks just beneath the surface. Consider that the average pen-pen rides 10 hours a day, six days a week. That’s 60 hours week, 3,120 hours per year. Meanwhile, the lack of helmets mean their eyes are exposed to the elements, especially the wind. In addition, they inhale all the fumes in the air. You and I know how polluted the air is in Liberia. So, a pen-pen who rides for 5 years accumulates 15,600 hours of exposure to the elements – too many hours of exposure that can lead to serious health consequences.
After speaking with several pen-pens during recent visits to Liberia, it is becoming clear to me that a wave is gathering that requires urgent attention. I have spoken to pen-pens who complain of pain in their eyes and chest. It comes as no surprise. Our brothers will have significant visual impaired or be blind coupled compromised respiratory functions. The combination of impaired vision and compromised lung function presents a serious public health challenge. It won’t be very long belong these men can’t see and can’t breathe well. It won’t be too long before they can’t work; we can be sure that they will turn to the government and their families for assistance.
Even more alarming is the fact that as you read this post, these our brothers are having multiple children by multiple women. It is easy to understand why: they have economic power because they can ride daily and earn some income. I am concerned about what will become of these children when their fathers are unable to work and provide food and school fees. Imagine the implications for the rest of society.
Instead of just requiring helmets, we have to develop educational modules that present the health consequences awaiting our dear brothers. Our posture cannot be confrontational; it must be one of a loving, caring community deeply concerned about our collective future.
For optimum health,