Honoring Few Good People
By Massa-Amelia Washington
After seven years of civil war, in which some of the most egregious atrocities were committed against humankind, the country seems immuned to violence. It has almost become a foregone conclusion, that the culture of violence had so engulfed the country that everyone was affected by it. But buried beneath this violence, were many untold stories and unsung heroes of this war. There were men and women who performed great acts of courage and took principled positions, oftentimes risking their personal lives just to make a difference in the lives of people. These few good men and women are deserving of honor.
"Thank-you helps to fuel the cork that spins the wheels" said Dr. Isaac Moses, Liberia's foremost pathologist, as he along with others received honor for services rendered the people of Liberia during and after the civil war. "When people give of themselves selflessly so that society may function and function well, a little show of appreciation at the end of the day is all that is required."
Dr. Moses remarks on the virtue of appreciation, tended to reflect the perception of the other honorees who had all converged at the St. Gabriel Catholic School in North West Washington, DC recently to receive their flowers for outstanding services they have and continue to render the people of Liberia. The honorees included, Catholic Archbishop of Monrovia Michael Francis, Human Rights Lawyer and Advocate Samuel Kofi Woods, the Liberian Women Initiative represented by Mrs. Etweda A. Cooper, Soccer great George Weah, and child rights advocate Kimmie Weeks.
These groups of Liberians were exalted amongst their fellow countrymen not by accident but because of the exemplary lives they've led in championing the cause of civil liberty and decency. In the words of Dr. Moses who among other things is famous for his insistence during Liberia's visit to the Barbaric Age when the civil war raged, that "no matter the situation at the time, Liberia must adhere to the civilized rule concerning the disposal of the dead". He effected this ideology by organizing a sanitation burial team, which work diligently, sometimes at great risks to clear the city Monrovia, and its environs of often-decomposed corpses, which littered the streets thus, minimizing the evolution and spread of diseases in the country.
Though those honored come from diverse backgrounds yet, they share the common but important values of humility and sense of duty. Further exhibiting these qualities, Kofi Woods, 1994 Reebok Human Rights Award and 1999 Benemenrenti Medal (given by Pope John Paul II) recipient saluted those who have humbled themselves and selflessly pushed others at the forefront. "I extend appreciation to those who have worked hard in promoting what I am today, I didn't do it alone", he said. In a typical Kofi Woods fashion, he asked Liberians living abroad to remember the country always. "Today, I throw out a challenge to you my fellow Liberians to put forth a collective agenda for the healing of Liberia for it is our obligation to do so."
The honoring program was organized by Mr. Ezekiel Pajibo of the Liberia Heroes and Heroines Project of Washington, DC with overwhelming support from individual Liberians, Liberian organizations, and friends of Liberia. This honoring of Liberians, initiated by Liberians is indeed a good sign.
One of the many negations adapted by Liberians as a result of the war and which towers over us even during this time of confidence building is the huge insecurity of how we view ourselves as a people, how we seem to lack self esteem, holding very low opinion of ourselves as a people. How many times has it not be enunciated in a sweeping fashion by Liberians that we Liberians are no good? How many times have we not had to engage in debates sometimes even heated ones with our friends, love ones and others alike in defense of what we are or at least what we can be positively? Few weeks ago, a good friend apparently frustrated by the turn of events back home, proclaimed in a general manner that "all Liberians are wicked, that we are all responsible for the destruction of the country. "I do not trust any Liberian," he said. What about you yourself I ask him, are you included in this analysis? "Oh Yeah, we are all wicked people," he maintained.
My friend was just reflecting the sentiments of Liberians thus highlighting the fear we harbor inside on the issue. Some of us have misbehaved, some still do, we know. But there is hope, for we do have a few good men and women among us. There are more Kofi Woods, Isaac Moses, Michael Francis, Kimmie Weeks, George Weahs, etc. All Liberians are not villainous in character it must be noted. We have among us the good Samaritans who will remain forever affable, who will continue to work in the interest of humanity amid all adversity. They may seem insignificant or as little as elves in a world of ogres, but in essence, in a society where the value system is lost, they are the giants, the true heroes and heroines, the reason why we are given a second chance, and we must never cease to recognize and honor them, show them that we appreciate their good work, after all, they represent what we can truly be.
There is not only a symbolic significance to the honor that has been bestowed on those Liberians, but there is a profound truth to the triumph of good over evil.
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