Friday, April 19, 2013

Responsible PNG Ways

So many issues and ideas seem to fly by, waiting for me to catch them in their flight, as if it’s a battle of ideas for me? Whatever it is I need to write down such ideas for the sake of making sense of the confusing random ideas that flood my world almost every second.

I have already settled for something to begin this discussion. I have decided to write about the burden of responsibilities. We owe it to our families, our communities, and our nation for shouldering our burdens. Our society has instilled in us the values of responsibility and responsible behavior expected of us in our daily lives. The most demanding of these is that we must take on the responsibility of leadership.

Many of us take on the burden of responsibility as a result of the social, political, and economic environment we are in at the present time. Taking on the responsibility means to deal with a situation that no one else would. It also means that the decision to take on responsibility goes with the risk of losing anonymity.

The importance of responsibility is that others are dependent on the decisions and actions of the person tasked with the responsibility to deliver whatever goods or services to increase the happiness and joy of the society. It is an abstract notion, but once translated into concrete situations the appearance of responsibility is anything, but a direct impact of a leader’s responsible behavior, actions, and decisions regarding a particular issue.

In thinking about the importance of responsibility in a Papua New Guinea context I am immediately drawn to the discussions that the late Bernard M. Narokobi had many years ago as a lawyer, philosopher, leader, parliamentarian, judge, and ambassador. In Foundations for Nationhood (2010) Narokobi expounds on the notion of Papua New Guineans Ways. How can we be responsible for the up-keep of Papua New Guinea ways?

“The basic principle of this goal,” Narokobi argues “is that Papua New Guineans are a people. They are a race, a nation. From the star, our ways are what our people find worthwhile to pursue. An emphasis of Papua New Guinean ways seeks to give encouragement to the discovering genius of our people” (2010: 35).

Are you responsible for the burden of Papua New Guinea Ways? Yes, we are responsible to our societies. We are creatures of our own societies. We belong to our society. We must take responsibility to enable our societies continue to uphold Papua New Guinean ways. It is easy losing Papua New Guinean Ways.

“Where we do not have an answer, we will find an answer by searching in the right direction. Where an answer exists, that answer should be preferred. One can isolate many facets of our ways. The fact that we have many ethnic groups is in itself a Papua New Guineans way. Development should consolidate that community living through which loneliness and despair can be eliminated. Community living should replace the senseless urban individualistic living that flourishes in big cities,” writes Narokobi (2010: 35).

The appeal here for us to return to the simple, basic, and fundamental Papua New Guinea ways is to acknowledge the collective responsibility we have as a unique group of people in the world.

“Cooperation, consensus, democracy blossom in small-scale communities,” writes Narokobi. “Participation and involvement are most effective in a small community. Sharing of good things and bad things is inevitable in small communities. Spontaneous culture and religious worship flourish in communities that know and feel their needs, their strengths and their weaknesses.  We must promote our cultures and reject some foreign cultural practices. We must discard some foreign practices such as alcoholic consumption to absurd excesses. Mothers should be able to take their babies to work instead of placing them in nurseries.” (2010: 35).

On the same page Narokobi continues to drum home the point: “By recognizing our ways, we give-due dignity to our lives. After this we are free to adapt our lives to the modern world, to accept some ways of other peoples and ignore others. After this we begin a critical look at our values and discard harmful practices. This leads us to maturity.”

Furthermore the responsibility we have to ourselves is to do some of the things right. We must stop giving excuses after excuses for doing stupid things that lower our standards as decent, self-respecting, and honorable people. We must stop justifying for all the wrongs to make them become normal part of our lives. We must stop gambling our lives away. We must stop littering our streets and neighborhoods with empty cans, thrash, and unnecessary gathering of peoples. We must ask ourselves what is it that we are doing that is not in sync with the rest of society.

Our failure to be responsible to ourselves leads to a society dealing with a psycho-social indifference to itself. Change has to be both psychological and social in order for a people proud of itself to steer it away from stubborn resistance to necessary quality change any society needs from time to time.

I am encouraged often in my reading of Bernard Narokobi’s writings. He urges us all to be responsible citizens of this Independent country.

“Papua New Guinea ways urge government commissions like the Law Reform Commission, the National Cultural Council [Commission], the Minimum Wages Board, the Courts etc., to discover our good laws and enact them in laws for today and tomorrow. Our lives were governed by norms and dictates, as we relate to other people or other property. These norms must be rediscovered and made use of. Change has to be conceptual as well as structural. As our ideas change, so must our institutions change. Our religious belief, our vision of reality and deity, must be studied and adapted to our Christian teachings.”

Narokobi urges us on: “We must know our ways and go on from them. Christianity must be adapted to some of our traditional forms of worship and celebration”

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