….In Liberia; Nat’l Orator
By Jimmey C. Fahngon
The national orator at this year’s independence celebration has frowned on the level of dishonesty in Liberia, which he said is prevalent in the post-conflict nation.
Delivering his oration at the official program marking the celebration of Liberia’s 170th Independence Day, Dr. Herman Browne said the level of dishonesty, duplicity and double standards in the country does not allow anyone to believe anyone anymore about anything.
According to him, one’s word can no longer be trusted while promises are rarely kept.
“Debts are never paid. Our ‘seh-pay’ attitude has simply spiraled out of control. And why? Because ‘da ha deh country looking’…,” he said.
He said “this is a slide away from civility when our sense of honor or shame has little or no bearing on our commitments or social interactions. Perhaps this is why many of us have so little regard for our country’s honor; so little regard for our country’s laws; and officers of the public peace. We must return to the point where one’s sense of shame is strong enough to set boundaries to his or her behavior, I would even say to make one’s behavior predictable.”
Dr. Browne said Liberians must return to saying what one means and meaning what one says, noting “we must return to the notion that it is okay not to be liked, to reward sacrifice, to celebrate humility, to live with little and give much; to be poor in things, but rich in soul; to seek to live a quiet and serviceable life.”
He further urged Liberians to watch how they discuss issues of national concern in the public space.
Browne, who is the president of Cuttington University in Bong County and the son of the late Episcopal Bishop George D. Browne, challenged Liberians to elevate the discourse especially during the pending representatives and presidential elections.
He called on the Liberians to ask not what their candidate will do for this country if he wins, instead, what he plans to do if he fails (in his bid).
While commending media practitioners for their tenacity, for the commitment they demonstrate ‘to public scrutiny and exposure of matters that should rightly concern the public, Dr. Browne said he finds it deeply concerning how propagandist the media can easily become.
He pointed out that ill-informed assumptions far too often form thebasis for public discussion that are transmitted directly into homes, saying “for example, one cannot go up and down this c country and take the view that ‘nothing has changed’. And mean it. And expect thinking people to take you seriously. Worst still, a talk show host might likely to take this proposition for an hour discussion: “nothing has changed. Are you for or against?” and then open the phone lines.”
The Cuttington University President urged journalists to do better than this if the media is to tale their educational role seriously.
He said journalists analyses of public issues and events are often far too thin, while their perspectives are not diverse and often oversimplified.
Dr. Browne further said “our interlocutors too few, and often grasp of various historical, economic or political trends unhelpfully minimal. I apologize if this seems hard on this sector of our civil life, but the media’s role in sustaining the peace is serious business, and far too important for us not to understand that when we read the papers, tune in to our radios, watch television, or endure talk shows, much more is expected from it than what we now receive.”