Paul Yeenie Harry ~ (November 1st 2005)
"... In this article, I will present my points from the domain of theodicy. I believe that, in talking about the run-off election, God could, according to His divine providence and goodness, do for us what He knows is right, just and good for the Liberian people ....”
"Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. Therefore I say: Hearken to me; I also will show my opinion." Job 32:9,10
As Liberians anxiously look forward to November 8, 2005, the pulse rate of almost everyone is increasing. It’s increasing, not because they have misplaced their voter’s registration card, but because they are afraid the wrong person will be chosen, or because their choice of candidate will not win.
I have received scores of e-mails in recent times, both from my fellow Liberians and non-Liberians, all asking me the same question: You did not make your position known about the 22 candidates in the first elections. Now that we have only two candidates, why haven’t you still made your position clear? Do you favor Mr. Weah, or Madame Sirleaf?
Though I have responded, in a private manner, to all those who have written me, I am using this article as my final open response/comment before the Run-off Election Day, slated for 8 November 2005.
Realistically, based on some of my previous articles (See “Do Not Vote For Such People Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four), compounded by information in both the public domain, none of the two candidates should be chosen. But this is the dilemma, as one of them has to be chosen! We have no choice, absolutely no choice!
At this juncture, allow me to say a few pluses and minuses about each candidate, based on what I have heard or read about them. Let me also stress that it may be that not everything that I have heard or read is true about each of them. Let me also point out that it is not my intention to list all that have heard or read about the two people.
About Madame Sirleaf
- She’s a Harvard graduate
- She’s an experienced politician
- She’s an experienced technocrat
- She has international contacts
- She has international experience
- She understands what Liberia needs the most
- She’s not corrupt
- She’s development-oriented
- She either contributed or engineered the destruction of our country.
- She believes in, or supports, violence.
- She’s arrogant.
- She’s very manipulative.
- She ordered Taylor to level Monrovia.
- She’s power drunk, especially as it relates to the presidency.
- She’s acrimonious and abrasive towards her colleagues.
- She insulted Emmanuel Brewer during the Banjul meeting in 1990. She told him, “Shut up and sit down.”
- She insulted Baccus Matthews during the 1997 presidential debate held in the auditorium of the University of Liberia. She told him, “You are disgusting.”
- She addressed all those working in the Doe government as “bunch of fools and idiots.”
- She used a “Bull-Shit” stamp on mails or documents sent to her by her fellow Liberians.
About Mr. Weah
- He’s down-to-earth, not arrogant
- He did not engineer the destruction of our country
- He’s a humanitarian
- He’s patriotic and nationalistic; will think about the country first
- He identifies with the common people
- He’s not corrupt
- He’s a better unifier
- He’s not well educated (Some say that he’s a high school drop-out).
- He’s inexperienced and uninformed.
- He’s not in tune with the complexities, dynamics and rigors of modern government and politics (regionally, nationally and internationally).
- He has surrounded himself with some of the same failed, corrupt and unreliable politicians.
- He’s intolerant to dissenting views and opposition; he doesn’t like to be challenged.
- He’s temperamental
Realistically, considering education, experience, exposure and knowledge, I think Madame Sirleaf is better qualified than Mr. Weah. But qualified for what, for the presidency? In other words, does her being qualified in these areas consequentially mean that she will make a good president? It’s debatable, isn’t it?
On the other hand, looking at the fact that George is down-to-earth, didn’t actively support or orchestrate the destruction of both human lives and properties, compounded with his love for his country, I think George is better qualified than Ellen. But, again, the question is: qualified for what, the Liberian presidency? That is, does his being qualified in these areas presuppose that he should be elected president? It’s arguable, not so?
Generally and realistically speaking, in reference to the Liberian presidency, Ellen has a lot of advantages over George. Her qualifications, in terms of education and experience, are enormous. Hence, the debate is not whether Ellen is qualified to become president of Liberia, for she is. The debate, however, in my view, is whether George, considering his low level of education and lack of experience, could make a good president, or better still, whether he is the right person.
In my previous articles, I discussed the elections and its ramifications in light of evidence, logic, experience and common sense. In this article, I will present my points from the domain of theodicy. I believe that, in talking about the run-off election, God could, according to His divine providence and goodness, do for us what He knows is right, just and good for the Liberian people. In this case, I think we should allow God’s plans and purpose for our nation to take precedent over our desires. Why? Not only because God knows what is good for us, but also because He knows exactly when we should get what is good for us, however, our shortcomings.
It is this situation that brings us to the crux of the article, as reflected in the title: Suppose God Wants It So? Suppose, in spite of his inexperience and lack of the requisite education, he is the one that God has decided to give the Liberian people? If this is the case, then, what will we feel, think and do? Reject George? Don’t try it! It is the most dangerous thing to do – rejecting God’s plans and decisions! The consequences could be devastating!
Let’s reflect on the story of the children of Israel. You remember when the children of Israel left Egypt, they had no kings; they were ruled by judges, because that was what God had intended at the time. The children of Israel had about fifteen judges all together, Samuel being the last of them all.
As we read in I Samuel Chapter 8, when Samuel became old, he decided to make his sons judges over the children of Israel. The Israelites were unhappy about it, and to express their unhappiness they stepped beyond bonds by rejecting the whole idea of having judges. They told God that instead of having a judge, they wanted a king because, according to them, the other nations around them had kings, a completely new idea in their existence as a nation, something not designed and introduced by God. In verse 7 of the same chapter, God says to Samuel, “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” So, the children of Israel began to be ruled by kings. Most students of Bible know that the living condition of the children of Israel became harder under the kings than under the judges. The consequences of rejecting God’s will for us are dangerous! Could George, the uneducated and inexperienced candidate be the choice of God? It yes, then, we better accept him with open hands and thanksgiving!
Now, let’s look at how David, the most reverent, remembered and loved king of Israel, was chosen as King. His father Jesse had eight sons, the youngest being David. God told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse because He would choose one of his sons as king.
After Samuel had reached the designated place, he advised Jesse to bring forth his sons. Jesse hurriedly brought forth all of his children, except David, a fifteen-year-old innocent and inexperienced boy who was taking care of the sheep somewhere. Jesse, the father, did not have the slightest idea that it was the inexperienced lad that God had chosen! No wonder he did not even bother to send for David on the field. The whole story is written in I Samuel 16 verses 1-13.
In verse 6, we see how Eliab, Jesse’s first son, was the first to stand before Samuel. He was qualified – he was the eldest son, he was strong, he was well built, he was experienced and informed about the problems Israel faced at that time, as he was one of the soldiers of King Saul’s army. Samuel, the prophet, looked at Eliab and said, “Surely, this is the one God has chosen to be king.” Samuel thought, based on human evidence and perception, that Eliab was the right person to be king of Israel. This is how most of us deceive ourselves in what we do! But hear what God had to say in response to the situation.
In verse 7, the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
This is a very important point. Let’s look at the extrinsic interpretation of this verse. Could this mean that we are putting too much premium on education, human knowledge, experience and achievements, and not on the decency of the heart? Are we not considering something that God may be considering? For sure, there must be something that God sees and knows and values, which we do not see and know and value. If this is the situation, then let God intervene on our behalf.
The story does not end here. After Eliab, Abinadab – the second son – appeared before Samuel, but Samuel said, “God has neither chosen this one.” Samuel might have learned something from God’s first response, or the Holy Spirit might have guided him after the first incident. The third son, Shammah, also appeared before Samuel, but Samuel also said that he was not the right one. This was said of the rest of the seven sons that Jesse brought before Samuel – they were not the right candidates, according to God’s plan and purpose for Israel. Period!
After the seven most “qualified” candidates had been rejected, Samuel looked and saw no other person in sight. So, he asked Jesse, “Are here all your children?” Jesse answered and said, “There remains, yet, the youngest, and he is keeping the sheep.” It’s like saying, “Yes, but it’s useless to think that the last son is capable of becoming king of Israel.” David was rejected even before his name was mentioned as a possibility. In reality, he was the least qualified, at least as far as human qualifications were concerned. Notwithstanding this, Samuel instructed Jesse to send for David. Read verse 11.
In verse 12, we read that as soon as David appeared, God told Samuel, “Arise and anoint him; for this is he.” Incredible, isn’t it? The stone that was rejected, a stone thought to have had no significance, a stone whose selection was unknown to human beings and completely foolish to human understanding, was destined to be the cornerstone of the building, by God’s divine providence. So, David was anointed king of Israel! Some of his own brothers might have been angry about it, but they could do nothing. God had spoken! This situation carries my mind to Isaiah 55 verses 8-9, where God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
What is the connection? If God’s choice is George, in spite of some people’s disdain for him because of his inexperience and lack of the requisite education, then we have no choice! His election may hurt, irritate and confuse many people, both Liberians and non-Liberians, but if God wants it so, then let it be! This is my point!
Have I said that Liberians should reject Ellen and vote for George? No, absolutely no! Equally so, neither have I said that Liberians should reject George and vote for Ellen! What I have said is that, clearly, Ellen is more qualified than George, so there is no debate about it, in my opinion. However, if George, whom many people believe is the least qualified in the entire race, is the person whom God has chosen to be the next president, then let us not reject God’s plans and purpose for Liberia and its people. God knows what is good for us, and He may be considering our good in giving us George. If God wants it so, then let it be!
At this point, allow me to conclude my message by creating a dialogue among Ellen’s supporters, George’s supporters and me. Are you ready? Let’s start …
Ellen’s supporters: Paul, between Ellen and George, whom do you prefer? We are convinced that, based on your own education, experience, advocacy and knowledge about issues and events, both nationally and internationally, you will choose Ellen over George, not so? You are against mediocrity, aren’t you? (Without giving chance to me to response, …)
George’s supporters: Paul, we know that you are also aware of the fact that higher education, international contacts and being an experienced politician should not automatically qualify a person for the presidency. In spite of your education, experience and knowledge, we know that you are a lowly and patriotic young man. You have always positively participated in the struggle to sustain Liberia and it’s people, not to destroy them. These are the things that George represents; hence, we are sure you prefer George to Ellen, not so? You hate arrogant people, don’t you?
Paul (looking at the two different groups of supporters): My fellow Liberians, I understand your respective positions, and why you have taken these positions. I know that there is some zeal with which each of you have entered this campaign to have your choice of candidate elected. However, I am also aware that zeal may be based on enlightenment or on ignorance and misdirection. Remember, also, that confidence may be misplaced!
Chorus (while pointing their open hands at me): But, Paul, that doesn’t answer our question? We want you to be definitive. Do you prefer Ellen, or George?
Paul: At this point, my compatriots, this is my final comment: let’s pray to God to have mercy and intervene in the process on our behalf, by making the majority of the electorates vote for the candidate that He thinks is better for Liberia at this point in time. He knows better than we do, not so? Having George as president at this time may be what pleases God. And, as we read in Psalm 115 verse 3, “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.” So, if it pleases God to give us George, then who are we to question/challenge the sovereignty of God?
Chorus: This is funny! You know that God will not vote; we are the ones that will! Besides, don’t bring God business into this election scenario! We beg you!
Paul: I agree, my brothers and sisters, that God will not vote on November 8, at least not in the physical sense. However, I strongly believe that God, according to His goodness and divine providence, could intervene on our behalf. He knows exactly what is good for us at this point. The only thing we have to do, in my opinion, is to ask him without bias and insincerity. Don’t say, “Oh God, please feel sorry for us and give us Ellen eh!” Equally so, don’t say, “Oh, God, no matter what happens, please let George win the election eh!” Submit the problem to God and let Him make the decision on our behalf.
Ellen’s supporters: Yes, we know that prayer is powerful. But if God, based on our prayers, gave us man like George as Liberia’s next president, then that would be the most foolish thing to happen to us as a country and people.
Paul: That’s what you may think, but time could prove you wrong. How sure are you that Ellen is the right person? You don’t know, though you may think that you know, based on what you see and hear and know, but remember what is written in Proverbs 14 verse12: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
Ellen Supporters: But George is just not the right person. God wouldn’t be foolish enough to give us George as Liberia’s next President.
Paul: I disagree with you, my countrymen. I believe that God could be “foolish” enough to give us George as the next president, not because He hates us, but because He knows one-hundred percent about what is good for us, though we may term it foolish according to our perception. Just read I Corinthians 1 verses 25-29: “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brothers, that not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble; but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should boast before God.”
Chorus (while laughing): Hmm! This guy called Paul is so …
Paul: Finally, brothers and sisters, let’s continue with the zeal, especially for what we believe to be true, but I urge us all to be willing and ready to accept the will of God with meekness and thanksgiving! If God wants it so, then let it be! I hope I have not offended anyone and that I have made myself clear!
For now, please allow me to rest my pen for the next article!
About the author:
Paul Yeenie Harry is a Liberian; he lives in Poland. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org