P.M. and leaders should note that times have changed… and so have our people

Times have changed and so have people. There is absolutely no doubt about that regardless of whether we are talking about Samoans or any other ethnic group.

Here on these shores, while we’d like to think that Samoans are civilised people and that our actions will always be dictated by fa’aaloalo, ava fatafata and alofa, we must accept it’s not all that way anymore. For some people. 

Which is the reality of today. The attempt to attack Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in Brisbane last week is a classic example. 

Many moons ago, the idea would have simply been unimaginable that someone – or some people – would dare to do such a thing. In a church compound of all places.

But this is the reality we are talking about. Some people – even if they are Samoans – no longer care. The men who attempted to attack Tuilaepa obviously did not care that he was the Prime Minister of Samoa and had been for the past 20 years. 

It didn’t matter to them that the ceremony was the launch of a new route for Samoa Airways, which was celebrating its first birthday, inside a church building. 

And they obviously didn’t care about the attention their actions would generate and how it would impact on Samoa’s reputation as a peaceful and politically stable country.

Now there are always two sides to a story. Did they have reasons? Of course they would. What those reasons are we don’t know since the investigation is underway and we still don’t know the identities of the men. Whatever led to the attack, these men must have felt so strongly that they were doing the right thing. 

Interestingly, in the aftermath of what happened, it appears these men have strong supporters, backing them by claiming the Prime Minister had it coming.

Which brings us to the point that times have changed and many of our people have changed too. The mutual respect we were once brought up in is slowly and surely eroding and no other place where this is more obvious now than social media. 

The things that are said and shared on these mediums are vicious. There is no va tapuia, no sanctity in anything. It’s simply a case of everything must go. Which is sad. 

If the exchange of views and the language being used is a sign of the future, we certainly do not look forward to it. Who would when it is so dirty and filthy? How do we explain this to our young children?

The truth is that some of the things that are happening today were simply unimaginable say twenty years ago. While life is moving forward at such a fast pace, it has done something that has eroded a lot of good old values such as respect, kindness and care.

Where do we go from here? What do we do? 

See, there are lessons to be learnt from the attempted attack on Prime Minister Tuilaepa. Apart from the obvious need for better security when he travels, one of the lessons is that Samoa has changed and that Samoans today are different from Samoans of old who were more patient and passive in resistance. They were subtle.

Not anymore. We live in a time where people freely swear at each other on social media without any ramifications whatsoever. We live in a time where the bar has dropped and in that freedom to express whatever views, it has brought out the worst in people. 

We see it everyday, it’s horrific, absolutely torrid.

But how do we begin to change? 

There are many ways. But it starts with each and every one of us. We need to go back to the past, return to our basic values of ava fatafata, fa’aaloalo, va tapuia and alofa. As a people, this is who we are. It is what sets us apart from the rest.

Key in all this is having our leaders leading by example. They need to be reminded that what they sow is ultimately what they will reap. 

This is not a Samoa Observer principle, this is a Biblical principle being talked about everyday in Samoa.

When it comes to Prime Minister Tuilaepa, we don’t need to remind you. His language on national television – and in other media forms - is disturbing at best. It is vulgar at worst. The things he says, the imagery it conjures, his choice of words is often extremely poor. 

And he has been doing this for so long. 

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s another thing about ava fatafata and fa’aaloalo. It’s a two-way street, you give and you receive. You cannot insult people every night and expect them to respect you back. It doesn’t work that way. 

This is something Prime Minister Tuilaepa and all the leaders of this country should remember. Have a great week Samoa, God bless!

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