Violence Is Not The Answer

By Rufus N. Darkortey

The Perspective

Atlanta, Georgia

March 19, 2002

The current wave of atrocities, hostilities, and violent clashes that plagues Liberia and its many communities within the Diaspora strongly suggest to me a strong desire to build a profound country. Unfortunately, the means by which this desire is being cultivated is in disharmony with the principles of peace, collective efforts such as nationalism, unity, progress, and development.

The issues that are retarding the progress and development of Liberia are of great concern to Liberians all over the world. I can understand that we need a country that flourishes at providing goods and services to its citizenry, but how we achieve it should never be seen, nor expressed in a violent context. Violence always begets violence. Injustices can never be defeated by unjust means, nor can evil be permanently wiped out by evil means. The only instrument that convincingly defeats and eradicates evil is nonviolence. Evidently, the current historiography of Liberia that post dates the Tubman era has been characterized by continued violence. The brutal demise of the Tolbert regime begot the unprecedented slaughtering of the Doe administration. Now, the Taylor Government is being embattled. If it is violently replaced, is there a guarantee that peace and prosperity will prevail? No. A fight which end produces a victor and a victim only leaves room for a rematch because it becomes the compelling duty of the victor to defend his victory, while the victim seeks supremacy in a rematch. Victories acquired using violent means are temporary, while nonviolent victories are permanent.

Nonviolence, as an alternative to violence, guarantees durable peace, understanding, and stability because this effective tool of nation building, which uses the instrument of love and wisdom doesn’t seek to defeat, ridicule, or humiliate the enemy. Rather, it establishes a cordial relationship with the perpetrators of evil that their deeds are not compatible to the development of a beloved community. Martin Luther King and Gandhi nonviolent successes clearly epitomize why nonviolence is a permanent effective tool of nation building that must be utilized by every Liberian as we rebuild our beloved country. As a result of Gandhi and King nonviolent fights, India is hailed as the world largest democracy with large prosperity, while Blacks and Whites can equally compete in U. S. presidential elections and other sectors of their country respectively. We must fight to destroy the evil systems of failure and degradation in Liberia and transform their participants into productive human beings for the benefit of the country. In an effort to positively build a strong Liberia, we must also ensure that every Liberian has a place in our society despite his beliefs, creeds, interests, expertise, and potentials. We must seek to accept the participants of evil systems into our lives. If participants or victims of evil systems are not convinced that there is a safe haven for them in the hearts and lives of their rival, they will never surrender to the rival - a situation which proves detrimentally chaotic for all, not just the evil.

Many Liberians and Liberian organizations within and outside the Diaspora are debilitated by confusion and deep-seated hatred both internally and externally. Ideological differences are transformed into personal differences. Disunity is preferred to unity when our views and interests do not prevail above all else. The rule of the game is failure unless I am the head. We deliberately walk away from the system if we, or our interest is not in control. We, when entrusted with power or control become drunk with that power and shield ourselves with a devilish force that subjugates our fellow men to nothingness by way of devaluing and depersonalizing them. These are chronic forms of violence, inferiority, irresponsibility, lowness, and cowardice that must be rejected by every Liberian as we rebuild our country. No country can develop in the face of violence, disunity, confusion, and hatred.

There is a serious and urgent need for us to rethink our selfish approach towards the resolution of our problems. We cannot build peace by violent means, nor can we succeed being in disharmony with one another. How many more persons do we have to kill before we recognize our cowardice, or how many more persons do we have to force into destitution, frustration, exile, refugee, and displaced camps before we see the danger of folly, or how many more children do we have to kill before we reject the indignity of our inferior fight? There is a better way to express our grievances and a civilized way to seek redress without destroying one another and our national consciousness. Not because the government thrives on chaos, so we must use chaotic means to correct the government, or not because the people need a better life and the government is proving incapable of providing the solution, it gets offended and uses iron hands at silencing the people. What justification is there for violence? The most appropriate and durable solution to our national quandary is to internally seek peace within ourselves and gather the inner strength of brotherhood, which compels us to consider one another as partners in progress and members of the same team whose weakness becomes the weakness of all and whose strength becomes the strength of our national resolve.

The problems that engulf our country are clearly defined. We need jobs, better lives, plentiful opportunities, responsible leadership and good governance, qualitative education, self-sufficiency, quality and responsive health care delivery system, and the preservation of our human and national dignity, etc. The way to achieve these is not to engage in warfare but to make concession to one another based on our concerns. The government must responsibly accept and understand the concerns of the Liberian people and the people on the other hand must sincerely accept and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the government and make the appropriate adjustments that ameliorate the growth and prosperity of the country. The business of violent warfare and guerilla tactics will only increase and prolong the suffering of the Liberian people, degenerate the already shattered fabrics of the country, and further weaken its ability to develop. The price of violence is expensive for it destroys society; the price of nonviolence is cheap for it improves society. If we do not stop our folly of violence and propound more persistently productive methods of nation building, failure and chaos will permanently permeate our future and that of our children.

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