In my opinion, to be a Liberian means one must have a “pride of Liberian identity” outside self-centeredness. True Liberian citizenship means one must be a true “patriot”, which emphases love, values, and beliefs.
It is putting country first and having fellow Liberians at heart in whatever one does.
Patriotism is about legacy-driven, which is not about age or time serve. It not about ethnicity or religion or a particular traditional belief. It is not about being rich or poor. It is not about ascribed status. It is not about being literate or illiterate. It is not about being a man or a woman. It is not about being disabled or able body. It is also not about parental birth place or parental ancestry roots.
It is rather about structure and outcome of work one does at each stage of his or her assigned duty or responsibility that is beneficiary to society outside self.
It is a mindset that one has about changing current situation to make it better or the best ever for his or her country. It is about leaving a mark for reference and remembrance for better livelihoods of people of his or her country.
Patriotism is key because it is the groundwork for nationalism because nationalism is about the celebration of what one has achieved or done patriotically.
The question we must ask ourselves is, in nearly 170 years, what have we achieved patriotically as individuals and collectively as citizens of Liberia better than any country that worth celebration?
This is importance to figure out because repeatedly our actions tend to depict celebratory and elaborate fashions of nationalism, which do not necessarily require achievement or doing anything concrete.
We need to understand this because nationalism is not the same as patriotism. Nationalism is a demonstration of expressed support through unity.
For example, as Liberians we might support the Liberian National Football team playing against the Brazilian National Football team. Such support is the expression of nationalism and does not necessarily mean the Liberian team is the better side.
Unlike patriotism, nationalism is also egotistic and materialistic and often times bring about wars between and among people and nations. It makes one to feel superior to the other, which is the rise of most conflicts experience in the world.
Also key for Liberian citizenship is understanding and knowing one’s rights and responsibilities as a citizen.
Some rights are undisputable and other are guaranteed under the Liberian Constitution, such as right to life, free speech and religion and responsibilities are obligations, such as cleaning our homes, neighborhoods, communities, demanding our leaders to work for us rather for themselves.
On the hand, responsibility require one to pledge allegiance to the flag and the country, which is a promise or oath. This responsibility should not be the obligation of students alone as the flag is the symbol of pride and bidding statement of resolved.
Patriotism is key in determining who is a true Liberian because it actually requires one to do something for the good name or image of his or her country. It makes one to think outside the box for good results.
About the author:
Jarwinken Wiah, former Chief and Frontline Reporter of one of Liberia’s independent newspapers The Inquirer Newspaper