Rise Above Thyself
By Alvin J. Teage
May 14, 2002
The excessive desire for Liberia’s wealth is taking tolls. You don’t need to go to neighboring refugee camps to see the suffering of Liberians. Just stand in the main districts in any part of Liberia and look around. You will see troubled adults, barefoot boys begging for a few coins, young girls selling their bodies, and the like. Why is there such darkness over our land? The children of Liberia should not be begging or selling their precious bodies on the streets; they should be in schools. They should not be forced to the battlefronts to fight Taylor’s war for profit; they should be at home with their families. Half of the population should not be in neighboring refugee camps or internally displaced; Liberia belongs to all of her people. Our women should not be worrying about unwanted touches from the NPFL-NPP terrorists; they should be able to sleep at night.
In these trying times, Liberians have been considering several approaches for the problems that confront their now hostage country. Proposals have been offered; and opposition members have talked. Yet, in spite of the various public outcries for a meeting of the opposition minds, they have yet to meet. I am reminded of a story about a fenced in sheep. Though the sheep was in the midst of a lot of green grass and fresh water, it for reasons unknown, tried day after day to get across the other side of the barbed wires fence. The sheep slowly bled to death. This is somewhat analogous to the situation faced by some Liberian opposition leaders. After all these years and in spite of the many calls from the masses for oppositional UNITY, it is still being rumored that some members of the opposition are far from it. These distanced opposition members are concerned that a unified stand would mean that they will have to give up their leadership seats. Not so! Moreover, it puzzles the mind that these Liberians need to be constantly reminded that they do not have the luxury of time to conduct business as usual. So what is needed?
Elementary notions of patriotism require that Liberian opposition leaders must rise above themselves and unite for the general interest. Let’s face it! The firm division of views has gotten us nowhere. So the recent news that some members of the exiled opposition have decided to start serious talks, is encouraging. The big question now is: Are these opposition leaders willing to suspend personal political campaigns and unite their minds for the limited purpose of making Liberia conducive for democracy?
Mr. and Mrs. Opposition, in the soon to come talks for Unity, great caution should be used not to let the desire for personal advancements deny the Liberian people the freedoms that can be secured by rising above oneself. I am not suggesting that a meeting of the opposition minds would be required for eternity. You are, however, urged to note that Liberia is at a crossroad. And since time is of the essence, there should be no attempt to create a conundrum out of a fairly straightforward matter. Your disunity is a major impediment to ridding Liberia of Terrorist Charles Taylor. It should also be added that you have had many years for planning. As a result, and in the spirit of the general interest, you must now suspend your personal political campaigns and unite your minds for the limited purpose of defeating Terrorist Taylor. For the sake of the general interest, please affirmatively reach out and touch other opposition leaders. In doing so, be a realist. There will be detractors of democracy at these serious talks. But don’t get comatose if these detractors seem difficult at first try. It would be extremely unfair to make personal differences the basis for denying the Liberian people the freedoms they so need. So work harder. If you push yourself; if you refuse to be satisfied with disunity, you shall find another Liberian patriot with whom you can work with. Our people have suffered too long! You must not let this golden opportunity slip between your fingers.
We are encouraged that the recent terror attacks on Counselor Tiawan Gongloe were condemned by many, if not all, of the Liberian opposition leaders. Counselor Gongloe (may he speedily rebound) is a good man who did not deserve the illegal treatment he received from Terrorist Charles Taylor. But as shocking as the terror attacks on Counselor Gongloe are, they shouldn’t be surprising. Similar terror acts are committed by Terrorist Taylor against lesser-known Liberians day after day. And until Liberians wake up and see that Terrorist Taylor has no ounce of democracy, these terror attacks should be expected.
Think about it! If the summoned opposition fails to act for the general interest of the people of Liberia, what justification can be given by said opposition for its calls for foreign intervention? On the other hand, if the Liberian situation is judged in terms of urgency, wouldn’t it be expected that the opposition will come out of the soon to come talks with a Unified Stand? A few of our disadvantaged Liberian brothers and sisters living in Ghana asked it best: "How could we support any Liberian candidate who does not seem to be in a hurry and is not committed to remedying our subhuman conditions?" How, indeed!