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Editorial: Generational Change vs. Intra-generational Envy

Current debate in Liberia on whether or not it was time for the country to embrace sweeping transitions that could see its senior citizens in leadership stepping down and giving way to the younger generation seems to be moving to another level with some commentators saying the youth, who are architects for those changes, are themselves bent on self-destruction, primarily due to envy.

They say rather than rallying around the success of one of their own or kind, young people are busied pulling one another down under the crab mentality. Former Liberian Information Minister Dr. Laurence Bropleh, a young man, who was dismissed from government in 2009 for alleged improprieties, thinks he was set up, blaming it on envy by some of his young colleagues both on the cabinet and outside of government. However, cautious supporters of the advocacy for general change think young people should exercise patience, and prepare adequately both educationally and morally to assume leadership role.

“Young people in their youthful exuberance and idealism should not proceed to thinking that generational change comes by abruptly blowing the whistle and proclaiming that “the time of the young people has come and therefore all the old people should turn over their jobs to the young effective immediately.”  This will not produce generational change; instead, it will only lead to generational chaos”, said Foreign Minister-designate Augustine Ngafuan, when he addressed a graduating class recently in Ganta, Nimba County.

We concur with his interjection that change should not be abrupt. It should be a cautiously guided process that would safe land for the general good of the nation. In such transition, there should be no victor or loser, but that another opportunity has availed itself for the country to progress.  On the question of envy, young people need to introspect and critically project where they want to be in the next five to ten years not exclusively as individuals, but mutually as a generation. This can be achieved only when they learn to adapt the ant mentally by helping one another and pushing one another upward to advance.

Ngafuan notes: “I see that the most significant threat to achieving generational change in Liberia is intra-generational envy.  If we the young people of today do not change course, we will be our own greatest enemies.”  He says that whenever a young person is elevated to a position of trust in the public or private sectors, his elevation is usually greeted with mixed reactions – excitement and hope from many as well as disenchantment and damnation from many, but the most discouraging and disgusting reality is that the deepest disenchantment and the most vehement and vociferous damnation come, more often than not, not from the older generation but from the very young generation.

“Some of these young, disenchanted fellows bubbling with crystallized envy are prepared to go to whatever lengths, use whatever resources, and use whatever method – overt or covert – just to bring another young person down.  Instead of viewing the elevation of one young person as evidence that their own elevation is now more likely, they fume, they condemn and sink into depression”, he lamented.

There lies the crust of the matter. If those advocating for change are at the same time at one another’s throats, in a down pulling spree, the dream of taking over the mantle of leadership would become a perpetual illusion with no clear success in sight. The Proponents of generational change should therefore, rethink their strategy.

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