Let’s reflect on our founding principles


AS we approach another Independence Day, we’re reminded of how our country is free, we are free of dictatorship, free from foreign occupation, and free from the threats of invasion and military domination.
Perhaps those freedoms amount to little in the minds of our youth and children.
That is because most have been spared the horrors of warfare.
Most have not seen soldiers butcher members of their families in front of them.
In two weeks’ time, we will celebrate the 45th anniversary of this nation’s declaration of Independence, the prelude to the establishment of our government.
While all of us can find fault with government leaders and policies, few of us would trade our system for any other in the world.
We are free to elect our Parliament, and the members of that body are free to govern this nation in the ways in which they see fit, guided at all times by our freely-created constitution.
We are free to speak, and to write, and to meet together.
We are free from colonial administration, no matter how kind.
We are the owners of great riches buried beneath our feet.
We are born with a vast network of tribal beliefs and customs, the inheritance of countless generations of ancestors, whose strengths give pride and a sense of belonging to a place and a time.
We have an abundance of the good things in life.
And why is it so hard for us to move forward in unity, with the confidence born of a new awareness that we are one people, in one place, for all time?
It achieves nothing to simply blame the perceptions of overseas observers.
In our desperation to excel, to gain recognition, we reject all criticism, well-intended of malignant.
We rally against those who dare to say anything adverse about our beloved country, yet within that same country, we see ourselves as Highlanders, or Tolais, or Sepiks and rarely indeed as Papua New Guineans.
It is tempting to say that PNG is far less united today than it was in Sept 16, 1975.
Criticism and ambition are the two emotions that trigger our latent sense of unity.
Faultfinders can be assured of a hot reception from all sections of the PNG community, no matter how accurate the criticism, nor how mild its presentation.
As for ambition, we need only look back to the South Pacific or Commonwealth Games to see how lavishly we praise those who have managed to excel on an international stage.
Sadly, most of our politicians fail to see the importance of being Papua New Guineans first, and representatives of their own people, second.
When an outstanding leader seeks to fulfil the international requirements of a ministry, or of the prime minister’s position, he is roundly criticised for failing to attend to the everyday matters of his own electorate.
Poverty has become a reality in our country, and that’s an outrage.
We have the land, the crops, and the social structure to ensure that not one person in PNG ever goes without a meal.
But in our haste to better out own individual circumstances, we have forgotten the oldest and most potent cornerstones in our traditional foundation – the twin abilities to care and to share.
Independence Day is a good time to reflect upon and rededicate ourselves to the principles upon which this nation and our government were founded.

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