Looking At The Bigger Picture

By Bishop Ronald J. Diggs

The Perspective

March 6, 2002

As the year 2003 draws closer, many Liberians seem to focus their attention on President Charles Taylor and the political parties. It seems that everyone desires to be the President of Liberia. Let us examine and consider the bigger picture, the whole, which is the sum of its parts.

In the struggle to attain the presidency, those aspiring to it must remember our war torn country in which the United Nations' sanction has compounded the suffering of the people of Liberia. Mired in poverty, thousands are struggling to secure merely the basic necessities of life for themselves and their children. The average Liberian family can no longer afford a decent meal each day. Liberians, especially women,, children, the elderly and infirm are dying daily due to hunger and hunger related diseases such as diarrhea and from lack of medicine.

As if this were not sufficient hardship for our suffering people, we continue to use war as the way to change the government. It is common knowledge, that from the very beginning of this conflict, The Inter-Religious Council Of Liberia, formerly known as the Inter-Faith Mediation Committee, tried to make Liberians understand that war has never heen a solution to problems, but the cause of problems. Furthermore, the use of our young people to kill others, in the effort to serve the purposes of politicians and financiers, is wrong, immoral and unethical.

We vehemently oppose such inhumane acts and the abuse of the rights of children. War is not only destructive, but it is also divisive and always tends to repeat itself

What then is the bigger picture that we need to examine and consider?

Liberia does not need the number of political parties that have mushroomed since the Civil War. The only thing that these political parties do is keep Liberia divided along tribal, ethnic and sectional lines. The leaders don't care about these divisions. They are shrewd and cunning enough to know that prior to Biblical times and until the present day all unscrupulous leaders used the best, most efficacious way to achieve their goal - "divide and conquer." These politicians are fighting for one goal, one position - the Presidency. How effective is a president in a divided country? We have experiences of this ineffectiveness from past regimes. Thomas Friedman, the New York Times foreign affairs columnist, points out that civil wars cannot be solved until the dispute within each side can be resolved. The conflict between the Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a classic example.

Finally, in the interest of the suffering masses, the thousands who lost their lives from bullets, hunger and disease, the thousands living as refugees in countries around the world, the brain drained, the depletion of our natural and mineral resources, etc., I call on Liberians to wake up to the hard realities of the fact that a new day has dawned. Our Constitution states that power belongs to the people. But, the people can forfeit power if they fail to put the right person in charge of their affairs.

This new day calls for men and women with foresight, mutual understanding, respect for and acceptance of each other, irrespective of political orientation, tribal, ethnic or sectional groupings to come forth with determination to replace the years the locusts have eaten.

As difficult as this may seem, this is the only path we can and must take if we are sincere about our country, Liberia.

Liberians must not allow themselves to be fooled, tricked, manipulated, used, lied to, taken for granted or taken advantage of again by politicians. The privilege to vote is the most powerful instrument the people possess in a democratic society. Their happiness, peace, security and progress depend on the intelligent use of this power. No matter how long it takes, Liberians should start preparing now to cast their votes intelligently.

Remember that, "In union strong success is sure." Let us make our country whole again, the sum of its many parts, a beautiful, bigger picture like a magnificent tapestry of many colors, hues, sections, tribes, ethnic groupings, constituencies and political orientations woven together with priceless threads of truth, respect, understanding and humility. May God strengthen these threads, which bind our tapestry, with His infinite love and bless us and our, beloved country, Liberia.

About the author: Bishop Ronald Diggs is Bishop Emeritus of the Liberian Lutheran Church. He served briefly as Vice Chairman of the Interim Government for National Unity (IGNU) during the Liberian civil war.

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