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Who Are The Elders In The Room?

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“Who are the elders in the room”?– Was a famous and instructive saying or question in the polity of Old Athens or Medieval Greek. It was interpreted to mean, in the realm of the state and its governance there must be experienced and mature individuals whose wisdom the ruler and his adherents can rely on for wise guidance or counsel in conducting the affairs of the state in a dignified and noble manner. In Old Anthen, ‘The Elders in the room” were a council of noblemen who were also referred to as the “Pantheon of Lords”. The pantheon of lords was a unique configuration of philosophers, noble elders, statemen, revered academics, acclaimed poets and wordsmiths, and decorated warriors.

Their role was to principally advise the ruler and his cabinet officials. Very rarely does the ruler speak but when he speaks the nation immerses in somber silence. His subjects (citizens) listen attentively because decrees will be passed down, declarations of war could be made and other pronouncements of profound importance will be made by the ruler. This emphasizes and illustrates how powerful was the ruler and the implications of his pronouncements and utterances. The moral of the Greek tradition of sacralizing power and authority is the strong emphasis that there must be exemplarity and honorability ingrained in national leadership. Leaders must be responsible in words and deeds!

Now in Liberia, I pose the question, who are the elders in the room? Who is advising the President and the rest in officialdom–with those in the legislature included? For example, in the game of power politics, the President cannot overtly be leading certain deadly political fights. He cannot publicly say certain things, it makes him childish and it is demeaning when the leader appears childish in the eyes of his people. For example, a leader cannot go on air or mount the Pulpit and disclose how he helped another political leader in a time of need or during some difficult situation. It is uncouth and immature to do that.

Your gratuity to someone loses essence the very day you tell the world you once helped that person in a difficult time. Besides, it is the responsibility of leaders to help their countrymen and solve problems and don’t use it to taunt or demean the people in times of disagreement. A leader of the land is the father of the land, and citizens are his children. So, you don’t help your child and go in public and begin to announce it whenever you are angry with the child. Such an attitude is not only mean but falls below the standard of the coveted presidency.

Political fights must be led by subordinates, not the president. Firstly, the risk of political battles must be evaluated before they are ventured into. Secondly, it is dangerously ill-advisable for the President to be exposed to the risk of a ‘war of words’‘or public bantering. It is always safe for subordinates to wrestle in the mud and take the blemishes than for the president to be politically exposed to counter-firing. It is counterintuitive for the president to publicly draw battle lines with a former political ally who wields immense political influence. Who are the elders in the room?

In politics and propaganda as well as in the dialectics, it is taught that leaders should only orchestrate the attacks and give marching borders to diehard underlings to execute. They should never go on the frontline. The hands of the leaders should never be exposed suffice to say his deals should never be seen by the ‘common eyes’. After the subordinates shall have caused the damage, the leader can claim innocence, move in to repair the damage, and re-engage through a path of reconciliation. The fact that he is not in the full front ultimately maintains some level of innocence and insulation.

Again, certain fights must be thoroughly considered before engaging in them, because the political consequences of doing so can be bitterly grave with far-reaching implications. Is the fight necessary? Is it timely? Can it be avoided? Can we engage a bit more? Have all efforts to resolve the impasse proven futile? These are the questions that must be considered before going into battle. Unsheathing the sword should be the very last option and in doing so, one has to be smart and tactical. Be sure you can win a fight before throwing the first punch.

In ending, I must say leaders have to be cool-tempered, calm, and resolute at all times, not repulsive and thin skin. Then the leader must be slow to speak and always be the last to speak no matter how tempted or provoked he is. It should not be easy for a leader to fall to the temptation of provocation and neither should the leader be easily predictable. Everyone knows that a little taunting from a “Yana Boy” will infuriate the leader and he will respond the next day. It means the leader does not have self-restraint which is a sound of weakness. The utterances of leaders can be likened to decrees, taken seriously by everybody, so they should be careful how, when, where and to whom they utter strong words. It is said, “only an unwise king picks a fight with the king maker because he digs his own grave by doing so”.

And to the Council of Churches, I like to express my strong dissatisfaction over your utter silence amid the villainization of God’s Pulpit by President George Weah and Senator Prince Johnson. We are accustomed to the sacralization of the Pulpit in the Church and Mosque, not the villainization of it as we see the two “Pastors” doing in the full glare of their respective congregations who are cheering them on for desecrating God’s Pulpit. This is not only reprehensible but disgraceful, to say the least. And for the Council of Churches to be tight-lipped over such an ugly spectacle is just disgustingly shameful.

And may I say more?

Writes Moncio Robert Kpadeh (Sage)

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