By Morrison O.G Sayon
As Liberians celebrate their country’s 167th Independence Anniversary, a Liberian Educator and President of the Tubman University in Maryland County has called on Liberians to transform their minds, perception and behavior.
Serving as National Orator of Liberia’s 167th Independence Orator, Dr. Elizabeth Davis Russell, called on Liberians to transform their minds, cognitions, perceptions and behaviors, if Liberia is to move forward in unity.
Dr. Russell said this can be done when the minds of Liberians especially the young people are molded through education. The National orator added that education is the bedrock of any nation and effective tools for national transformation.
Dr. Russell observed that Liberians will approach infrastructural developments such as roads, electricity and structures with the same disregard they did in the past if their attitudes and behaviors remain unchanged, adding, “These infrastructures will soon appear as those of the old.”
The Tubman University President admonished Liberians to utilize the freedom of expression and other freedoms they currently enjoy with a sense of responsibility, and warned against using this privilege to engage in spreading malicious rumors that have the propensity to cause discord or bring injury to individuals, families and institutions.
She observed that the promulgation of half-truths, misinformation and disinformation that cast aspersion on people and divide communities is not a demonstration of social responsibility.
The National Orator urged Liberians to develop a sense of identity as well as moral, ethical, civic virtues, integrity, civility and trustworthiness among others, as these are the bedrock of any society.
“As we rebuild our country, we must think ourselves as citizens and view ourselves as a single people with patriotic sentiments and duties toward our homeland Mama Liberia,” the National Orator urged Liberians.
She called on Liberians to alter their perception about females as people who are only responsible to take care of the home, pointing out, “The Preamble of Liberia states that all Liberians are equal under the law, regardless of religion, political affiliation, tribe, sex, among others.”
According to Dr. Russell, the Preamble also gives every Liberian the opportunity to exercise his or her natural, inherent and inalienable rights to establish the framework of government for the purpose of promoting unity, liberty, peace, stability, equality, justice, and human rights with opportunities for social, political, moral, spiritual and cultural advancement of society, ourselves and posterity.
She further urged Liberians to shift from the warring mentality to one of peace and where their behaviors will be consistent with harmony, fraternal love, tolerance, understanding and the promotion of unity on our continent as well as engaging in international peace and cooperation.
The Independence Orator also called on Liberians to change the attitude of self-centeredness and become more caring for their fellow Liberians, especially the most vulnerable, noting, “Today, too many Liberians seem to have lost the sense of caring for one another and showing kindness for one another; we seem too busy getting what we can get for ourselves.”
Urging again, she urged those in leadership to see themselves as servant-leaders who should serve willingly and not to place emphasis on the self-aggrandizement style of leadership where they expect people to always serve and look up to them, if we are to work together to rebuild Liberia.
According to Dr. Russell, “as one people and one nation, we must learn to accept one another even if we disagree politically.”
She added: “If we want our people to follow our vision as leaders, persuasion is what we need to use and not authority to coerce compliance,” something she noted separates servant-leaders from authoritative leaders who use power to dominate others.
Dr. Russell also called on those in positions of trust to eschew corruption by avoiding the taking of money under the table before doing the people’s work.
She said it was about time that Liberians begin to battle mediocrity in institutions, work places, schools and the society at large by shunning corruption and embedding integrity, no matter how small their positions may be.
According to Dr. Russell, civil servants and public servants should learn to be proactive and not passive as well as be sincere in their work, adding, “They should not work for 15 days and go to collect a pay check for the month.”
The ceremony was poorly attended probably as a result of the Ebola outbreak in the country. Many officials of government as well as some foreign diplomats were also absent from the program which lasted for an hour.
President Sirleaf and other government officials were forced to watch their hands before entering the hall while others were given gloves to wear to avoid getting in contact with anyone having the virus.