It’s a screamer and one that has a message for anyone that cares to take note. It was printed in white on a black ‘T’-shirt displayed in a northside Brisbane shop. The corner of my eye saw it as I was walking through this shopping centre one afternoon. It drew my attention instantly.
It says this.
“To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid.”
It seems our country has been experimenting with our youthfulness since we signed the deed of political divorce from Great Britain 37 years ago. We had many dreams, some achievable, others remain elusive.
It’s a point touched on by the Electoral Commission during a historical briefing held in Honiara on Wednesday this week. The briefing was for intending candidates who will be vying for a seat in this year’s national general election.
“We are young in terms of being an independent nation. There’s more to learn as time moves us forward,” he seemed to be saying. Young, we have been. Old, not quite as yet.
So I suppose the question that needs to be asked is whether we have been “stupid” all these years – “stupid” because of our youthfulness. Don’t take me wrong. I am using the word stupid rather loosely in the sense of being complacent and compromising on a number of fronts in terms of progress.
The gist of the sign that I have alluded to at the beginning of this Column is that all’s not lost. Life would have been a lot easier if we had avoided the pitfalls in being young. But that is not real life. To get somewhere, there are valleys to cross and mountains to climb.
Life is like that.
So as we face the national general election next month, what the lessons we have learned, if at all in our youthfulness – the very state of being that arguably has led us astray?
That as leaders in our family, community and at the national level we have abrogated our national responsibility, love and respect for each other? That in doing so, we have despised others because they did not vote for us?
That instead of moving together as a community, we have allowed marginalization to divide us? And as a result, our inclination to help members of our communities is based on who voted us into Parliament?
It is my prayer that the election this year will help shed a lot of the disparities, injustice and partiality we have witnessed in a menacing manner over the last four years.
People are hurting. Businesses are hurting.
I think we have, in this country, reached a point where maturity needs to take hold of our being. We need to realize we cannot go on being young and stupid forever. We need to recognize a turning point where being young and stupid must come to an end.
We need to acknowledge that at some point being old and wise must be ushered in. We cannot go on pretending that the world out there would wait for us while we indulge in the trappings of youthfulness and stupidity.
This election, being called at the end of another year, I believe is being done so for a special reason. We must get rid of the old and put on the new. Only then, we can see clearly where we are going.
The challenge is for individuals who have shown their hands up to lead this nation over the next four years. I am sure our youthfulness has taught us a lot of things. We must now use wisdom to guide this country in facing the challenges ahead.
There is no other way.
By Alfred Sasako