By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
One of the difficulties in communication, involving people, whether it is interpersonal or group communication, such as a program, is the message the speaker intentionally tries to communicate to others. Naturally, the one who communicates has specific reasons for saying certain things while communicating. The issue here, as lawyers would say, is whether or not those (receivers) to whom that piece of communication is directed really got the intended message by the speaker or sender. Every time people communicate, they always attempt to get a particular message to others.
The message, as it is professionally defined, ‘is the verbal and nonverbal form of the idea, thought or feeling that one person (the sender) wishes to communicate to another (receiver) or group of people (receivers).” Additionally, the message is the “content”. It is also referred to as the ‘underlying theme or idea; or an underlying theme or conclusion to be drawn from something” in communication, in whatever form or manner that the speaker or sender decides to employ. Again, if the message is ambiguous, this also creates a problem, as the receiver may interpret it differently, than what the speaker or sender intended.
What makes this aspect of communication important is that when the message for which one communicates is not understood, then, really communication has not really taken place. Sometimes this is owing to noise because of the terrain or semantics, the words being used to communicate, as the words may be misinterpreted, or not properly understood. At times, it is based on what is known in communication has the ‘field of experience,” which was developed by expert Wilbur Schram. This is where people interpreted a piece of message or communication based on experience they had before or how they understand it.
Generally, it is accepted that communication is not just the collocation of words, but the message one tries to get to another or a group of people. Yesterday made it exactly one week since the United States Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Deborah Malac, delivered speech at program marking the Independence Day celebration of the United States of America, Liberia’s longstanding traditional friend, at the Executive Pavilion in Monrovia. Among those who graced the occasion, was President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who also gave remarks, as expected.
Although the event has come and gone, my main concern, by listening to that speech is a particular portion which I feel is necessary to share with Liberians, as we try to develop this country after years of turmoil in the country. I try to highlight this because it borders on our behavior and attitude towards each other and the country.
In her speech in which she briefly outlined some of the assistance being given by her country, Ambassador Malac said, “Through many mechanisms, we are working with Liberians to help build a Liberia that is at peace with itself and its neighbors and offers economic opportunity to all its citizens. Building such a bright future is no easy task, especially in the wake of devastating conflict; It requires unity of effort, a shared vision and a commitment to the common good; This does not mean that there must always be complete agreement on every policy decision –alternative or dissenting views can drive innovative solutions and are a necessary component of a vibrant democracy – but it does require public discourse marked by civility and respect. We can agree to disagree while continuing to work together in the best interests of the country.”
“Furthermore, another’s success or opportunity should not automatically unleash unfounded invective, but should serve as a model of what is possible to achieve through joint effort. The wheels of progress cannot turn forward if they are constantly blocked by the stones of pettiness and personal attack whose sole purpose is to prevent things from happening or to preserve political or personal advantage,” the Ambassador stated.
“Sustainable, broad-based development and true economic prosperity do not happen overnight; indeed, we are fortunate if it happens in a generation. It requires sustained commitment and concentrated focus and lots of patience,” she added.
“Under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s leadership, Liberia has made progress. But, we all know that there is much more to be done to deliver the promise and benefits of peace and prosperity to all Liberians. Let us all renew our commitment to work together to achieve the promise,” the Ambassador stated further.
I take interest in this aspect of her remarks, considering the way and manner in which some of us handle national issues. As the Ambassador noted, some of us unleash unfounded invectives,’ failing to realize that “the wheels of progress cannot turn forward if they are constantly blocked by the stones of pettiness and personal attack whose sole purpose is to prevent things from happening or to preserve political or personal advantage.
Furthermore, we should be aware that after years of devastating conflict, progress would not come overnight. We are all aware that it is easy to destroy than to build, as rebuilding what has been destroyed cannot happen overnight. Although expectations are high, it is worth to note that rebuilding takes time. In her words she said,” Sustainable, broad-based development and true economic prosperity do not happen overnight; indeed, we are fortunate if it happens in a generation. It requires sustained commitment and concentrated focus and lots of patience.”
For example, few days ago, a group of citizens in Nimba County staged a violent protest on the facility of ArcelorMittal, which resulted in the destruction of properties belonging to the company. In this situation, it took the people just few minutes or hours to destroy those valuable properties being used by the company for its operation. To rebuild or re-purchase those items destroyed, would not take the same minutes or hours that were taken to cause such massive destruction that would obviously affect the operation of the company.
Actually, given our idiosyncrasies as human beings and also our inclinations, there would always be disagreement on national issues. But as it is always said, ‘We agree to disagree, without resort to any act to tear each other down or create obstacles to national development. As the ambassador noted, this discourse on national issues must be done with “civility and respect.”
Acknowledging that expectations are high for progress, we must equally say, as the ambassador recognizes that we have made some progress after years of conflict. Yes, it is true. As the ambassador stated,” But, we all know that there is much more to be done to deliver the promise and benefits of peace and prosperity to all Liberians. Let us all renew our commitment to work together to achieve the promise.
To conclude, let me say that the message of the Ambassador on that day is that while it is an indisputable fact that ‘there is much more to be done to deliver the benefits of peace and prosperity to all Liberians, this call for collective and civility and respect in our action in this national dialogue, she wants to keep the nation stable and peaceful to achieve greater development.
Equally, the message of the Ambassador must send a signal to the national authorities to buckle up to make sure that the promise made is achieved. The government must take those necessary actions, such as avoid waste, as the President noted recently and improve on its information dissemination to the people to avoid unnecessary actions detrimental to growth and development. Those who find themselves in other branches should realize the “UNITARY” nature of the government and avoid working at variance.
Until this government realizes that there is a need to cut its coat to its measurement and work or manage public expectations by reviewing its priorities, I REST MY CASE.