"War is not the answer"

By Cllr. Mohamedu Jones, Esq.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted July 16, 2002

Editor's Note: Recently, Counselor Mohamedu F. Jones served as an Installing Officer for the Liberian Educational and Cultural Organization. Find below the full text of his remarks:

Officers-Elect, Members of the Board of Directors, Ladies and Gentleman:

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you this evening, and to conduct the installation of your elected officers. It is a special privilege. I congratulate you the officers, and I extol you the members of this organization, the Liberian Educational and Cultural Organization, for the philanthropy embodied in what you are doing.

Last Sunday, I attended church services at the Washington National Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, as part of the activities of my school alumni association, B. W. Harris Episcopal School. During the service, we sang Hymn 594 in the Episcopal Hymnal, “God of grace and God of glory, on thy people pour thy power.” It is from the verses of this great hymn that I have found several themes to share with you tonight, as you begin your term of offices, and with the general membership of the organization as you support its mission. This hymn speaks precisely to current Liberia and Liberians, which is why I thought to share some of it with you.

The third stanza of the hymn begins by asking God to cure his “children’s warring madness.”

Liberia is caught in a grip of “warring madness.” This “warring madness” has led us to a low point not only in our national history, but also in the world history of the 21st century. Unfortunately, some Liberians still believe that continued war is the right course to lift the country to a higher point. Marvin Gaye, said in his classic song, “What’s Going On?” -- “War is not the answer.” War is certainly not the answer for Liberia. We need to be cured of our “warring madness.” All Liberians of goodwill must reject and condemn the wars that are presently being waged against the people of Liberia, and do everything to stop it. The so-called Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) are just simply wrong, and need to end their war. It is essential that peace once again becomes a part of Liberia’s culture, replacing war, which is now a part of the culture of our country. Officers-elect, you may want to consider instituting a peace and conciliation program as part of your activities.

This third stanza of the hymn also contains the phrase “bend our pride to thy control.”

One of the core problems we find in working together as Liberians is how easily we allow pride to get in the way. For many of us, our pride takes precedence over maintaining good relationships and friendships, achieving organizational missions, doing the greater good, bringing peace to Liberia, or even defeating President Charles Taylor at elections. One only needs to observe the long line of presumptive would-be-presidents of Liberia, and see their foolish prides dangle them like puppets in unending minuets of self-conceit. Their prides have taken control of their lives, and nothing else matters - President Taylor can win re-election for all they care, but they will never support another candidate. I admonish you officers to bend your pride to the higher good of the organization and the greater glory of the Liberian people whom you of your own free will have declared to serve.

This third stanza of Hymn 594 goes further and asks God to “shame our wanton selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul.”

The very purpose of the current administration in Liberia, under President Charles Taylor, is one of “wanton selfish gladness.” The policies and actions of President Taylor are directed to one objective: acquiring rich things. In the middle of abject poverty, the steady declination of the standard of living, squalor, and economic depression, the Liberian president and his associates are embarked on lives of wanton selfish gladness, without shame. It is fundamental to the national value system to teach children that the worth of one’s life can never be measured in the richness of acquired things. Throughout our history, it has been a fundamental failure of our society that we have not sanctioned people for their “ill gotten gains,” but rather have honored and admired them - hopefully waiting for our chance too. This must stop!

In the fourth stanza, the hymn prays that God may “Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore.”

Many Liberians in this country deplore the evils perpetrated at home in Liberia, but have weakly resigned ourselves to them. We have concluded that we can do nothing about them - we leave “those people’s thing” alone. Yes, we need to pray hard that God may save us from weak resignation. This is the very core of what this organization is all about - you have determined not to resign yourselves to the evils afflicting our youth, but to act, to do something for them, to help perpetuate Liberian culture and values. The children of Liberia (whether they live in Liberia or in the United States) are not the future of Liberia; they are the present of Liberia. They live the evils in Liberia; they live the contradictions and dangers of American life, which evils we deplore. You are trying to do something for them. In this work, you are saving yourself from weak resignation.

The last verse of each stanza of Hymn 594 begins with the words “Give us wisdom, give us courage”

Wisdom is good sense; it is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships, it is the adoption of a wise attitude, and it is setting off on a wise course of action. You, the officers, will succeed in reaching the goals that you have set, and achieve your organizational mission, only if you approach your duties and responsibilities with wisdom. Bring good sense to all you undertake, value the inner qualities of your members, nurture productive relationships with them, adopt a wise attitude, and only elect wise courses of action.

Courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Courage implies firmness of mind and will in the face of danger or extreme difficulty. You will need courage to lead, to meet your duties and responsibilities, and to achieve your organizational and leadership goals. Find and keep the courage to persevere, have the firmness of mind to always be guided by the best interest of those whom you seek to serve. Do the right thing! Do the good thing! Do well!

Let me close by reading each of the last verse of each stanza of this great hymn that speaks to a nation:

1. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of this hour, for the facing of this hour.

2. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the living of these days, for the living of these days.

3. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal, lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal.

4. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, serving thee whom we adore, serving thee whom we adore.

May God grant you wisdom and courage in all your endeavors. Congratulations-

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