I heard Dr. Patrick Sayon once say in the auditorium of the University of Liberia that history teaches no lesson, but it punishes those who fail to learn its lesson. There is clearly logic to this statement, however contradictory it may sound.
Power Does Change Hands
Experience teaches or should teach us, but a great deal of us fails to reflect on life’s lessons or experiences and to learn to live our own lives in view of those experiences or lessons. Sometimes I wonder whether we do that prepensely or obliviously. Or could it be that we, generally speaking, are just some kind of don’t-care creatures paying no attention to history or the experiences of life, or were we made to overlook history’s lessons. Still, do we behave in this fashion because we are somehow cursed? It does puzzle me.
This tendency baffles me in that many of us continue to engage in the same flawed activities or lifestyles that brought either disgrace or demise to others in the past. Are we cursed?
When I consider how some in government treat their fellow citizens and what they say about others, I can’t help but wonder whether they knowingly choose to disrespect history or ignore history’s lessons. Do they think about life after this government? Don’t they realize or understand that this government, too, will one day be a thing of the past? Does it cross their minds that many administrations have come and gone and that this current administration will also go one of these days? Why are they so oblivious of history’s lessons or writings?
Is there some special spell that takes hold of them when they are given influential government jobs, through appointments or elections? Do they think that the status quo will always be the same? Why do some, if not many, continue to make this mistake? Why do they continue to behave as if the saying “Nothing lasts forever” were untrue?
But, frankly, sometimes, this mentality does not come as a surprise at all, as some display the same attitude in their communities, neighborhoods or churches. There are people who don’t want others to pass near their houses or through their yards, forgetting to know that we brought nothing into this world, and we will take nothing out of it. When some of those considered “the haves”attend churches, they feel that the have-nots should not sit with them on the same bench.
If the earth itself has never really been the same, why do these people think that the relaxed or influential state they find themselves in today will remain? Erosion caused by heavy rains or force of large bodies of waters changes the face of the earth continuously. Earthquakes and landslides do the same. Volcanoes also disfigure the earth.
Even Jesus, in responding to the disciples who reasoned that the beautiful structures of the Jerusalem Temple would remain the same, prophetically averred that things would change in due course. We read this in Matthew 24:1-2: “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. ‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. ‘Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.’”
The stones of those in government could be the positions they occupy today or the power they wield at the moment, positions and power causing them to humiliate, disdain or ill-treat others today. Power does change hands. Positions do change hands. This is what life has clearly presented consistently, willynilly.
In view of this reality, it flabbergasts me that some would continuously or continually choose to misuse and abuse power as if life would always be in their favor. Some of them slap peaceful citizens in the street just like that, registering in the process that they can do anything they wish without anyone questioning them. There are people who insult others any time they desire all because they have power or are in position. Some accuse others falsely, subjecting them to harm of imprisonment, all because they have the power to lie on others. Power and position cause some to ill-treat others mercilessly. Some in authority sometimes take over other people’s property just like that; that is, all because they are in power or occupy some influential position. In many instances, it is said that some are given non-guilty verdicts all because of the position they occupy. They never understand or realize that because power does change hands and that no condition is permanent, they are supposed to treat their fellow citizens respectfully and fairly in that life continues after an administration is gone.
For example, during the Americo-Liberian rule, most of those in power ill-treated their fellow citizens as if they were sub-citizens or sub-human beings. In 1980, when the nothing-lasts-forever statement manifested itself – that is when power changed hands – some of those ill-treated decided to give a dose of that medicine to those brought down. Since they considered and treated others as nothing, they, too, were treated in like manner. It should be remembered that life continues after an administration and, because of that, those in power today should know how to treat others. Tomorrow will come.
When Mr. Doe and his fellow coup-makers took over, they, too, began to behave as if others worth nothing. A lot of our fellow citizens were ill-treated in many different ways, forgetting to know that life would continue after that government. And, for sure, by and by, time came for the government to go and, when that occurred, some of those who thought they would continue to be “somebody” became nobody, with some living and dying as if they were never the very people who wielded much power in the Doe government. Power does change hands, and we all are supposed to be mindful of this. The point is that, to use a well-known trite, no condition is permanent.
Even most of those who became “somebody” as a result of the gun during our civil crisis, dehumanizing and humiliating and killing others in the process, were reduced to nothing when the war ended. They failed to understand that that condition would not remain forever. It is said that some have become drug addicts, beggars, armed robbers or some other worthless characters. Yes, nothing lasts forever, and we all need to be mindful of this reality.
During the Charles Taylor administration, there were individuals who disremembered that that government would go one day. Many security men and women, public officials and other influential individuals that ill-treated others yesterday are today considered nothing, notwithstanding the fact that they were the ones in control in those days. Some of them are even abandoned or disrespected by those who worshipped them or sand praises to them. Yes, power does changes hands, and when that happens, situations and conditions do not remain the same. Life does continue after the existence of an administration, and we need to be mindful of this.
Just as the Doe government came and went and the Taylor administration came and went, this Sirleaf government will also go away one day. The people that are slapped or told to pump tire today or their relatives and friends could be the very people in power tomorrow when power changes hands. Let’s remember that life continues after a government is gone.
To be continued…
Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues.