You, me, all of us

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 13 May 2016, 12:00AM

A friend once told me that the story of Samoa is a bit like a 747 jet sitting on the runway without a pilot. Here you have such a powerful machine capable of endless possibilities and yet without a pilot it won’t go anywhere. Not in a hurry anyway.

Which means that what is obviously needed is a pilot and not just any pilot but one who knows how to get this beast off the ground and into the air where it belongs.

So where do we get a pilot from? And how do we go about finding the pilot?

The answer is simple. You are the pilot, I am the pilot, we are the pilots of our own destiny. As proud Samoan people, we need to stand up and get this beast off the ground and up to where it really should be.

When we sit down and consider what is available, the challenges and the reality on the ground, you would agree with me that there is so much potential in this country. Socially, economically, spiritually, we have it all.

But we just cannot shake the feeling that we should be better than what we are today. It’s awful because we continue to take one step forward and ten steps backwards. In everything. It’s the truth.

When we talk about leaderships, we often look at the government. We look at the Head of State, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and the like for guidance.

Which is not wrong. After all they are our leaders. They are there for a reason. 

But they are not the only ones who have a role in developing this place we call home. We all have a role to play, from the highest ranked official on the land to the least respected. Parents have a role to play, children too have a critical contribution to make.

That’s how a country is developed. It’s about making people feel appreciated; it’s about taking ownership of all the problems, challenges and the blessings. It’s about honestly assessing ourselves, reevaluating where and when needed and then being humble enough to make the changes.

Here in Samoa today, there is so much injustice. The stench emanating from the government, the church and villages’ failure to address some of the more pressing issues confronting this country is hard to ignore. We’re talking about rising social problems and inability to address instances of corruption and abuse that are hurting the most vulnerable people in our community. 

When it comes to the government, these incidents have been highlighted by the Controller and Chief Auditor as well as the Officers of Parliament Committee (O.P.C) reports to Parliament. They have been told in detail on the pages of this newspaper time and time again. 

Transparency? Accountability? Good governance? We think not.

Inside the church, there is reason to believe that some shepherds are doing more harm to the flock, leaving them in sorrow and suffering. Love? Care? Tender mercies? Absolutely not.   

As for the villages, we believe the matai system can offer a lot more to help the government and the churches address the problems of today. It involves using the immense power they have to influence young people positively. It also involves them leading by example by doing what is right. 

The bottom line is that everyone has a role to play. Yes the government has a responsibility to lead and initiate developments but they too need help. In other words, we must all do our best to make sure that laws and systems put in place to ensure there is fairness all around are respected. These laws and systems are vital so that the less able among us are given their fair share in life.

Today, let us once again remind our leaders in government, churches and in the villages that they are occupying those positions for a reason. That reason is not to protect wrongdoing but to uncover the truth, bring about justice so that the blessings from God for Samoa are equally shared among all.

And since many of them love claiming that they have been put in their positions by God, let them also be reminded that it is God who gives authority, he also removes authority. In his own time. So while they are in a position of authority, we urge them to use it well, use it wisely because one day we will all be called to account for every little thing we are doing.

What about you and me? What about the ordinary folks in all the villages?

I want to leave you with a wonderful Facebook post I picked up yesterday. It is Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel’s contribution to the issue of interschool violence everyone has become so consumed by. It is a beautiful post, bringing home the point that everyone has a part to play. Here take a look: 

“With the recent fights and tensions happening with our young people at high schools and colleges, as a mentor and coach of young people, I believe that our young ones should not be discarded so easily. 

“They need us parents to guide them. They need us to really listen and be open minded and be open hearted. There is so much anger. There is so much violence. There is so much disrespect for life itself. There is so much of everything going on. We owe it to our young people to not give up on them. For who are their first teachers? We are. Who are the first care givers? We are. Our children were born into an era of mobile technology that Samoa is not immune from. 

“With the tech disruptions to our traditional Samoan lives as we used to know it, we are replaced by a virtual community from within and without Samoa that is constantly connected. This is their reality. This is our reality. 

“We’re living in a global sharing community via social media that most of us Samoan parents don’t even understand. It’s a perfectly normal world for our young ones and quite alien to most of us. 

“What we view as an obsession with selfies and thinking that these kids are stupidly vain is quite normal to our children who pucker up their lips without a care in the world just to take a selfie. 

“In this age of being constantly “mobilized” our children are more connected to so many foreign influences and like all young children they get confused over the plethora of messages they’re exposed to. There’s the cyber bully online who is acting as a friend from some remote land and has the ear of our child. Our children believe these people online because they feel that they understand them better than their own parents or peers. 

“I believe that we as parents and teachers have not kept up with the societal technological changes and adapted our way of thinking to theirs. The result is that of children who are super frustrated, bored, feeling misunderstood all the time and they lash out to authority and by fighting each other. Let us continue to show kindness and love to our children.  And - I believe that we should dig deeper WITH our children and have genuine, sincere conversations to find out WHY. And perhaps through the conversations we will get to the bottom of the issues that are plaguing our children. Dear parents and friends, this is only a viewpoint to start the conversation. And I say to our young people...I Hear You. Why don’t you bring courage to the table and talk about it.”

Well said Vaimasenu’u! 

Have a great Friday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 13 May 2016, 12:00AM

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