Good afternoon! Thank you for including me in the long line of contributors to the historic Archbishop Michael K. Francis discourse series.
Much has been said already, but even the fact that we are all here today says a lot about the importance of social justice and peace to those who influence Liberian society. Justice and peace are a priority because we consciously MAKE them a priority.
As an outside observer of Liberia, I strongly believe that one of the most powerful shared beliefs today, especially among those over age 20, is a visceral determination NOT to return to the chaos and mayhem of the civil war years. That is a gut reaction which must be shared liberally with the younger generations, who may find a resort to violence tempting, in their ignorance.
While we have heard much today about societal values and theories for effectively advancing peace, I would like to step momentarily into the realm of the tangible: I salute the vigilance of the Liberian Revenue Authority Customs officials and their coordination with the National Security Agency, the Liberia National Police, and the Port Authority Police in interdicting an illegal shipment of weapons in the first week of January.
Let all who wish to destabilize the country with threats of violence and intimidation understand that a better Liberia lies at the end of open discourse, respectful debate, and free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections. Shortcuts will never work.
Let me also make it crystal clear that any person hoping to destabilize Liberia by sending weapons illegally from the United States will meet the full force of law enforcement on that side of the Atlantic. I assure you that Embassy Monrovia will strongly urge the Department of Justice to prosecute this and any similar crimes to the fullest extent of the law.
Liberia, a republic for over 175 years, understands the fruits of democracy better than most countries on the globe. I am confident that through the investment by civil society working hand in hand with the media and elections officials, the citizens have every reason to anticipate a healthy campaign season with results that accurately reflect the will of the people.