Happy Holidays

By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

The Perspective

December 25, 2001

Arguably, there are three types of people in this world; there are those who see a problem and say, “nothing can be done about it”; then there are those who wait on others to do it for them; and finally, there are those that will see a problem, and immediately begin to find solution to it because “that is the right thing to do”. The Perspective finds itself in the latter category.

In the beginning, we were mindful that all those who succeeded in life got off to a bad start, and passed through many heartbreaking struggles before they arrived at their destiny. The turning point in the lives of those who succeed usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their “other selves.” Guglielmo Marconi (1874–1937) is a good example. When he announced that he had discovered a principle by which he could send messages through the air, without the aid of wires or other direct physical means of communication, his friends had him taken into custody, and had him examined in a psychopathic hospital. The fact that he did not dream in vain, is evident today, with the invention of radio, television and most recently, the Internet.

The Internet revolution, has made disseminating ideas and taking a position about something you are really concern about very simple. You do not have to wait on a whole lot of people for you to take action. All that is required is your conviction, commitment, a plan and your willingness to take action regardless of the risk involved. The Internet then serves as your platform to communicate your position, and sooner or later, you will find like-minded people to join your cause.

This is exactly what we did in June of 1996, when few of us who were concern about the deteriorating conditions in our country – Liberia, decided to do something about it. We saw a cause that had to be addressed, and we jumped on! All we had then was the passion to make a difference. We didn’t worry about what others were going to think about us nor did we wait on others to come and join us.

With our conviction, commitment and a plan in hand, we use the print media and the Internet to put forward our platform. When we launched the newsmagazine during the throes of the Liberian chaos (June, 1996), "to approach the Liberian predicament from a provocative [or different] perspective" many individuals dismissed us - saying, "in just a matter of months the paper would go under." Some well-known papers even carried excerpts from our stories without attributions because of our size.

The beauty about our approach is, we did not have to seek their approval, nor the approval of the government of Liberia, or be afraid of what the government would do to our relatives at home and us. We knew that when you become an advocate you sometimes exchange popularity for hostility. That’s the price we were willing to pay because to procrastinate would have made the problem worse. Doing what is right is not about popularity or competition; but it is knowing within yourself that certain social, political, and economic ills need to be confronted because they are unjust.

We have worked with our meager resources along with our passion and commitment for the cause we advocate, we have been able to weather the storm by being a force to contend with regarding national and international issues having impact on Liberia in particular, and Africa in general.

We were instrumental, along with the greater Liberian community in the United States to prevent the man from Arthington (President Charles Taylor) in September 1998 from entering the United States and receiving an alleged honorary degree from Morehouse College – in spite of the thousands of dollars the Liberian government spent on public relations. Moreover, we exposed Taylor’s criminal enterprise and the Liberian government support to the Sierra Leone rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), and its illicit trade in diamonds for guns.

And aside from its advocacy for fundamental democratic change, its critiques of bad government policies, the newsmagazine has provided a forum for Liberians in the Diaspora to exchange views on a wide range of issues affecting the future of Liberia.

Furthermore, The Perspective doesn’t heap on encomiums for itself. This is why we have not been pounding our chests during these five years. But we are growing stronger - thanks to you (individual supporters, the reading public, organizations like AllAfrica and now GlobalVision News Network – “a worldwide syndication service that features the reporting of independent news organizations in 85 countries, on seven continents.”

We have become the authoritative resource paper on Liberia; several sites link us, and thousands of people from over eighty countries visit our site on a daily basis.

Last year (2000), a group known as Link2Go wasted no time in reminding the world that The Perspective has become the authoritative resource newsmagazine on Liberia by giving the paper the kudos it deserves.

In the Award Letter sent to The Perspective, Link2Go states:

"Each quarter, Links2Go samples millions of web pages to determine which pages are most heavily cited by web pages authors, such as yourself. The most popular pages are downloaded and automatically categorized by topic For topics like Music, where there are a large number of interested authors and related pages, it is harder to achieve selection as a Key Resource than for a special-interest topic, such as Quantum Physics.

"The Links2Go Key Resource award differs from other awards in two important ways. First, it is objective. Most awards rely on hand selection by one or more "experts," many of whom have only looked at tens or hundreds of thousands of pages in bestowing their awards. Selection for these awards means no more than that one person, somewhere, noticed your page and liked it enough to select it. The Key Resource award, on the other hand, is based on an analysis of millions of web pages. Any group or organization that conducts a similar analysis will arrive at similar conclusions. When Links2Go says your page is a Key Resource, we mean that your page is one of the most relevant pages related to a particular topic on the web today, using an objective statistical measure applied to an extremely large data set.

"Second, the Key Resource award is exclusive. We get literally hundreds of people requesting that their page be added to one or more topics per week. All of these requests are denied. The only way to get listed as a Key Resource is to achieve enough popularity for our analysis to select your pages automatically. We do not accept fees, offers of link exchanges, free advertising, or bartered livestock as inducements to add new sites to our lists. Fewer than one page in one thousand will ever be selected as a Key Resource.

"You do not need to take any action to qualify for the award. Your page has already been selected and is already listed as a Key Resource. Pages that rank near the top of the list of Key Resources will almost certainly remain Key Resources on subsequent rebuilds of the index. Pages that are ranked near the bottom of the list may be "knocked off" the list or be assigned to different topics on later rebuilds. No action you take, other than steps to increase the popularity of your web pages, will have any effect on future selection."

The familiar phrase “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man; but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.” This applies to us because we got involved instead of being spectators. However, recently one of Taylor’s hired pens referred to one of our advocates as a “fool” for his stand on the issue regarding UN Sanctions on Liberia. He said, “to convince a fool, you agree with him.” If one has to agree with a fool to convince him, you who agreed with the fool end up becoming the biggest FOOL.

But in short, Tavis Smiley, formerly of the Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the Tom Joyner’s Radio Show, put it succinctly:

“Anger can be a very useful emotion. Many of the most committed advocates in this country (the US) got involved with a cause because they were angry. …You can’t just sit back in anger, cursing at society, cursing at politicians, while failing to do anything to improve the situation. Advocacy is not about being bitter – it is about making things better. What separates those who do from those who don’t is the doers take their pain and turn it into power.”

Exactly, this is what The Perspective is all about! You’re welcome to join us by following in the tradition of Ella Wheeler Wilcox whose words written over half a century ago still remains relevant to our contemporary times:

“To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men. The human race has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised against injustice, ignorance and lust, the inquisition yet would serve the law; and the guillotines decide our least disputes. The few who dare must speak and speak again to right the wrong of many.”

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and we wish you a prosperous NEW YEAR!

Editor's note: Siahyonkron Nyanseor is the Chairperson of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF) - a think-tank, democratic and research organization devoted to Liberia's democratic future.

The Perspective
P.O. Box 450493
Atlanta, GA 31145
Website: www.theperspective.org
E-mail: editor@theperspective.org