So, We Liberians Are Disciplined?

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

Whenever I write on issues that relate to our behavior and attitude, I always use the plural of the personal pronoun, “WE”to indicate that I am part of the society and directly or indirectly or intentionally or unintentionally, or to even go further by commission or by omission contribute to some of the problems in society, and therefore, see it from a holistic point and not from the point of a few. Most often it is said that there are two ways of doing things; the generally acceptable way and the “Liberian Way.” In short, the feeling is that many of us always circumvent the rules.

Whenever one speaks of the Liberian way, such person is making reference to our failure as a people to follow laid down rules and regulations. We are even referred to as people who do not respect the simple thing of time factor. For this, it is said that if you want invite a Liberian to an occasion, always give one hour before the actual time for the start of the occasion because if such Liberian is invited at the actual time, the person would not be on time and therefore, it is advisable to always consider the factor of “not being on time.”

Notwithstanding, today, the situation is quite different with the outbreak of the Ebola virus that has claimed the lives of more than 100 Liberians. Since the issuance of new measurers in the face of the outbreak of the disease, I have observed and continue to observe that Liberians, at this time, are following the rules. They are not exhibiting the usual “Liberian way.” From all indications, they are respecting the measures, especially the washing of hands at various places, without arguments. In other words, we are showing high degree of discipline; that is, we are showing to the world of being disciplined people.

The new measures as announced by President Sirleaf last Tuesday states that all non-essential staff to be determined by the Minister or Head of Agency, are to be placed on a 30-day compulsory leave and that all borders that are to remain opened are to be directly supervised and controlled by the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization whose duties it shall be, working with the assigned health authorities, to ensure strict adherence to announce preventive measures including preliminary testing for fever.

Furthermore, the measures directed that without exceptions, all schools are ordered closed pending further directive from the Ministry of Education, and that all markets at border areas including Foya, Bo Waterside, and Ganta are hereby ordered closed until further notice. Also, as previously directed, video clubs and entertainment centers must have improved sanitation including facilities for the washing of hands prior to entering and exiting as well as to restrict opening hours, and the number of individuals permitted to enter those facilities.

The measures also advised allcitizens to avoid public amusement and entertainment centers. Increase in prices of sanitation commodities used in this fight will be treated as an offense against the people of Liberia. The Ministry of Commerce is directed to enforce this order and that all such commodities including chlorine, soap, sanitizers, fliers and buckets are to be imported duty free.

Equally, the president said several communities were being considered to be quarantined based upon recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other relevant authorities. When these measures are instituted, only health care workers will be permitted to move in and out of those areas. Food and other medical supports will be provided to those communities and affected individuals. Government travels will be seriously restricted and limited to only those that are determined to be absolutely necessary and critical. The Vice President and a few cabinet ministers whose presence are absolutely necessary will attend the ensuing U.S./Africa Leadership Summit.

Surprisingly; I say surprisingly, because of the way and manner we have been behaving when it comes to some national issues and respect for procedures. It is indeed unfortunate that we are showing a different attitude and behavior at a time pestilence has befallen the nation. Are we to only show that we are disciplined people during the time of a pernicious situation, like in the case of the deadly Ebola Outbreak? Many times, we flout rules and always try to bypass procedures for reasons best known to ourselves. Sometimes it is about work habit; at times, it is about fiscal discipline, and at times it is about traffic regulations.

I speak of discipline in this context, not as a field of study, but as it relates to how we behave and act in the enforcement and implementations of rules and regulations. Discipline in the context, I am referring to speak of “control gained by enforcing obedience or order, orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior, self-control, a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity.” And so when the adjective, “disciplined” is used to modify the noun people, it means people who show obedience and adhere to prescribed conduct and also respect a rule of system of rules governing conduct or activity.

Many times, we are accused of not followingrules; rather, we are noted for breaking the rules and regulations in many spheres of life. To make a long matter short, “disciplined people” means people who show respect for rules, standard and regulation. Besides, it also denotes discipline in whatever one does or whatever one finds himself or herself to do.

Some of the simple examples, as stated earlier, are work habit and adherence to traffic regulations. It is an open secret in our society today that some of our “big boys” the sobriquet for public officials and others in society always flout traffic regulations on grounds of emergency or being late for work. Even to form a queue at some business centers, including banking institutions, is also a problem, as we always fail to follow the rules and procedures of “first-come-first served.”

Howbeit, as we now show to the world that we are a disciplined people, in the wake of this pestilence that has befallen the nation, let us continue this; even, after the nation had succeeded in its campaign against the spread of this Ebola virus; we should not revert to business as usual. Never again, should we be seen as people who sidestep generally acceptable ways and manners of doing things, but do them the way they should be as stipulated; the Liberian way should be something of yesterday.

As we together fight to curtail this deadly Ebola, I see a change in attitude and behavior which would help to develop this country and make us to be respected by others. We should not only wait for something like pernicious Ebola before showing ourselves as disciplined people, but should exhibit those virtues of being disciplined people in all what we do as a people and nation, no matter of our positions or status in society.

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