"In Order For Evil To Triumph, Good People Do Nothing"

By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

July 15, 2003

There seems to be some semblance of relief in sight or perhaps a sign of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the immediate future for Liberians, whose people for almost 14 years have been forced to live like nomads - living from place to place because of the misrule of one individual, Charles Taylor. Liberians, as well as their neighbors in the region, therefore welcomed Taylor's decision to resign and seek asylum in Nigeria.

The Liberian people have suffered too long! They deserve a relief - to put their lives back together, to live in peace and to move about freely, and to engage in normal business activities without the fear of intimidation and insecurity. Further, with the end of Taylor's rule, the Liberian people need to honestly work in promoting a just and free society, where individuals will be judged on the basis of their records instead of their ethnicity or social background.

In an effort for the Liberian people to ensure the development of a stable and orderly society that will serve as a foundation for a true democratic government, designed to seek and protect the general welfare of every Liberian, they need to be mindful that "In order for evil to triumph, good people do nothing." Therefore, Liberians should not return to the old ways of running government - which involved nepotism, greed, misuse of power and corruption but rather to curb corruption in that society and stop the rise of violence and lawlessness in post-Taylor Liberia. In addition, Liberians should once again become law abiding and respectful citizens.

In fact, what Liberians do not need is a leader who is assumed to do no wrong and is above the law. Liberians need a leader who is not only a "servant of his people" but takes directives from them. The praise and worship practice that make Liberian leaders feel indispensable must not be entertained.

Andrew Jackson said once, "One man with courage can make a majority." Mike Murdock also added, "You will be remembered for two things: the problem you solve or the ones you create." Both statements remind me of three leaders whose contrasting lives were recently remembered and eulogized. These gentlemen are: Lester Maddox (former Governor of Georgia), Maynard Holbrook Jackson (the first African American Mayor of Atlanta), and Ivan Allen, Jr. (former Mayor of Atlanta).

Lester Maddox was a segregationist who earned ridicule for the State of Georgia and divided its population on the line of race. By contrast, Maynard Holbrook Jackson was a naturally gifted leader who brought lasting changes to the City of Atlanta through "sheer ability, intelligence, force of personality and a keen vision of the New South he wanted to help create." Ivan Allen, Jr. on the other hand, united Peachtree with Sweet Auburn (brought Blacks and Whites together).

When Allen took office on January 2, 1962, he ordered "white" and "colored" signs removed from Atlanta City Hall, desegregated the City Hall cafeteria and gave 48 black police officers in the force of 900 the authority to arrest whites, and he openly supported the civil rights efforts of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Moreover, he was the only white Southern elected official brave enough to testify on July 25, 1963 before the US Congress in support of the Civil Rights Bill.

Both Allen and Jackson were pacesetters that believed, "One man with courage can make a majority," and therefore did not sit by for evil to triumph because good people did not want to get involved to fight injustice. These two "good men," against all odds, did the right thing - fought against injustice and racism.

This kind of exemplary leadership is what is needed in Liberia at this time. From here on, in the search for leaders in Liberia, Liberians must select a leader who is not only committed to the Liberian people, but also has the strength and character to honor and respect the laws and constitution of the country. If any lesson is to be learned from recent experience, it should be that Liberians should never repeat what they went through these 14 years.

It is not hard to describe the indelible impact this experience has on most Liberians; especially the children that are supposed to become future leaders to replace the present leadership. But with the way things look now, lots of training and rehabilitation will have to be done with these children in order for them to actually become valuable citizens in post-Taylor Liberia.

Also, from here on, Africans and Liberian leaders in particular, should realize that in the new global arrangement, nothing is impossible, and that no condition is so permanent to the extent that the people cannot put an end to. Therefore, dictators must be prepared to have their day in court for the abuse of power and violation of the constitution they swore to protect and govern by. Business as usual will not be condoned.

I am recommending that the following corrective measures be considered in post-Taylor Liberia:

· That the monopoly of businesses by the Lebanese must be stopped, and qualified Liberians must be given the opportunities to compete in providing these services.

· The requesting of 10 to 30 percent upfront of an investor's (Liberian and foreign) investment by government officials before doing business in Liberia must be stopped, and any official found engaging in any of these practices must be prosecuted to the letter of the law.

· International criminal and corrupt businesspersons doing business in Liberia should be investigated.

· The practice of bribery (cold water) by government employees to provide services to the public should be discouraged, and any one caught in this practice should be disciplined.

· Civil servants who provide services to the public should be trained in customer relations in order to improve the manner in, which they interact with the public.

· Those persons who are in the practice of engaging underage boys and girls as their sex objects shall be made to bear the consequences.

· The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the government should perform their respective tasks as provided by the constitution and not to act as rubberstamp for the President.

· An accused person's rights, family, relatives should not be violated, and their property should be protected from destruction and theft.

· Government official found guilty of embezzling government funds or using government properties for their personal use should be prosecuted to the letter of the law.

· The press should be free; journalists should also be free from harassment, intimidation and abuse.

· Free and "responsible" expression should be the order of the day.

Those who will continue to engage in these corrupt and other illegal practices will be exposed and be made to bear the consequence. Because it is these kind of practices that has helped to prolong the sufferings of the Liberian people.

Therefore, as Liberians and the International community are working together to put in place true democracy in Liberia, Liberians must first and foremost be honest with themselves; for posterity will remember them if they create the necessary environment to improve the lives of their suffering masses. This time around, Liberians should not follow the advice of individuals who have the propensity to tell them "to leave the people's thing alone."

Finally, Liberians must face the fact that genuine and lasting peace cannot be brought to Liberia through the barrel of the gun. We should never again condone the degenerative and senseless path the country has experienced these 14 years, and should no longer reward those who use the barrel of the gun to gain power and subject us to these undemocratic and inhumane practices.