Excerpts from Philip Jackson, but paraphrased and edited by Chealy Brown Dennis to fit Liberia’s unique situation. Liberians must immediately disengage from the diversions of mind-deadening entertainment, useless sports, excessive social celebrations, pointless conversations and debates, meaningless media de jour approach to managing our problems. We must focus on the most important issue in our communities – making education and the highest priority and turning Liberians in to entrepreneurs. We must create a culture of literacy and learning that replaces intellectual apathy and resistance to educational progress.
We must build the entrepreneur spirit in each and every Liberian. Somehow, we must re-inspire our children to want to learn and to love to learn as well as to become businessmen and great entrepreneurs within our region. But having educated children and entrepreneurs is not enough. We must have educated families and educated communities and to build communities across Liberia where Liberians find their dreams, their purpose, and their goals and then they grow into that dream and realized their maximum potentials. Every Liberian man, woman and child must become part of this new community of learners.
Liberians must take education out of the schools and universities and root it in our homes, our workplaces, our communities, our churches and even in our streets and prisons. The purpose of education is to help people actualize their roles in society as parent/family members, citizen/community members and workers in the economy. If the education system that serves us is not meeting these objectives, it is a disservice to our children and our communities and country.
The ability of a people to survive in changing times is not magic, nor is it by chance. Success depends on people being able to change to survive in a new environment! And new environments demand new skills for survival. Friend, without certain basic skills, survival will be extremely difficult for any people, in the 21st century. These essential skills are the ability to read with understanding; convey ideas in writing; speak so that others can understand; observe critically; listen actively; solve problems and make decisions appropriately; plan and put those plans into action effectively; to communicate and cooperate with others; guide others; advocate and influence; resolve conflict and negotiate; take responsibility for life-long learning; learn through research; reflect and evaluate; and use information and communication technology. These are the skills necessary to survive in the 21st century.
The solution to the issue of Liberians’ poor response to globalization is to 1) Deconstruct value systems that have caused Liberians to arrive at the precipice of non-existence; 2) Construct value systems that will rebuild the Liberian families as a purveyor of positive values, cultures, mores and education, and re-establish the Liberian family as the primary and most important social unit of our culture and society; 3) Embrace education as the highest value in the Liberian community; 4) Effectively manage the negative cultural influences that hugely impact the thinking and actions of our young boys and girls; and 5) Understand that for the rest of existence, change is a required part of the living process. The faster Liberians are able to put this plan into action, adopt these new principles and manage change, the more likely we will survive.
Liberians must take control of their economic destiny. Consider nine key solutions for Liberia economic potency as a way to improve and sustain our country.
1. A Liberian man must start a partnership venture with another Liberian. For partnership is the preferred way for increased investment. Few people acquired wealth working for someone else. By starting your own business, you can hire family, friends, and community members. Additionally, you will build the economy of this country and your community and become a model for what’s possible. Finally, you may be able to pass on a successful business as a family inheritance to your children and grandchildren.
2. Peer-educate with other Liberians and together get as much education as you can in your field or discipline. Education begins with you reading to your children as infants, teaching your children to read before they are school age, and encouraging a good deal of on-going reading. Education must become a life-long pursuit! The new hierarchy of human needs after air, water, and food is education.
3. Manage your health and your well-being carefully. Partner with another Liberian and begin a farm as the soil is ripe and ready for large and small scale farming. You will then be able to eat in a healthier, more cost efficient and sustainable way.
4. Open savings accounts for your children. Teach your children the value of money and how to earn, save, and invest it at an early age. Take personal finance classes so that you will become the best teacher for your child on the issues of money, saving, investing, and credit.
5. Invest your money and your time first in self-improvement by building your skills and your knowledge base-not in cars, clothes, furniture, frivolous electronics, sports, games, vices, etc. Second, learn how to let big companies work for you, through stock ownership, rather than you only working for them.
6. Manage your credit carefully and avoid unnecessary debt. Beware of spending beyond your means and consume smartly on holidays, birthdays, graduations, vacations, weddings, and funerals. Often, in Liberia we say the month of January is a hard month because we have not spent our money wisely on holidays such as Christmas and New Year. Learn to pay cash for what you need or don’t buy it. And forget about things you want and don’t need. Create a household budget that includes such essentials as food, safe living space, and utilities-and live by it. Save for a rainy day. It’s coming!
7. Two-person headed households are more viable economically than one-person headed households. Marriage can be an economic advantage when both parties align on financial priorities and fiscal realities. There are many children in Liberia that are born into single-parent households and begin life ensconced in poverty. Most never make it out.
8. Tithe. Give to your church or to a social cause.
9. Create a will to pass on your accumulated wealth to the next generation. Studies show that most households’ current wealth was inherited from a previous generation.
We must groom, honor and support passionate educators, economists, business forecasters, mathematicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists, farmers and logistics managers as our new heroes and leaders if Liberia is to survive into the future.
The current economic plight of Liberians is unacceptable and is the most dangerous time for Liberians since our foundation! We have got to make a change! We must take control of our economic future!
As you read today’s article, it is my hope that you will think differently about money and wealth tomorrow than you thought about it yesterday. If you do not, our fate is sealed.
(Chealy Brown Dennis is a marketing and business development consultant. He is also a much sought after motivational speaker and offers training in leadership and organizational development, creative sales and marketing, strategic planning, wealth creation, team building and management and offers on-location and train-the-trainer formats. He can be contacted through email at: email@example.com or on phone at: 0886-264-611 or 0776-545-394)