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20.11.2008 General News

All must help build a modern society

By Stephen Odoi-Larbi - Ghanaian Chronicle
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The Founder and Leader of the Central International Gospel Church, Pastor Mensah Otabil, has observed that for Ghana to progress towards attaining a modern society status, it demands greater contributions from its citizens in realising this dream.

According to the Pastor, some people perceive modernisation as borrowings from the western world, a situation he said, does not auger well in our critical thinking towards progress.

Pastor Otabil was speaking as the Guest Speaker at the just ended 13th Memorial Lectures of William Ofori-Atta, in Accra last Friday. It was dubbed “The Bridge to a peaceful modern society, the heritage of Paa Willie and the challenges for the future.”

He said human society throughout the ages, had benefited from the cross-pollination of ideas and ideals from various groups, and therefore it behooves on the individual to make good use of what he or she has learnt, to benefit the whole country.

“The truth, however, is that modernisation is not a property of the West or the 'white man'. Human society, throughout the ages, has benefited from the cross-pollination of ideas and ideals from the various groups. Each race and ethnic group has contributed to the creation and development of the ideas that we share in today. Having being part of the creation and development of knowledge, it is only right that we distil the best out of the whole, and learn to use it for our benefit,” he noted.

According to Pastor Otabil, greater responsibility lies on the individual to be steadfast in making good use of all the resources available to him or her, towards building a healthy environment, since a worrying hazard of modernisation was that it carried along with it alternate lifestyles, which sometimes threaten existing and well-established social norms.

“To build a modern society, we must be able to build the necessary balance between urbanisation and the social systems that support our society,” he said.

According to him, a modern society behooves on two pillars, namely citizenship and leadership. Explaining how citizenship helps influence a modern society, Pastor Otabil said the citizens must consciously and actively participate in the life of the nation, to improve quality.

He said Ghana needs active citizens, who have faith in their country, and share in the vision of a truly free and prosperous nation.

He reiterated the need to provide quality education in our various schools, to help students acquire the necessary knowledge towards building a modern society.

“We need to give our students the kind of education which promotes critical thinking, proble-solving skills and ethical behaviour. These are the qualities which will form a citizenry that is able to confront barriers and scale them; people with deeply rooted morality and a sense of mission about their place of life,” he noted.

He averred that for us as a country to humanise our society, in a modern era, “we will have to develop new initiatives, through the cooperation of state welfare and private philanthropic efforts, to address the social fallouts of urbanisation.” Pastor Otabil, however, challenged citizens of the land to be able to think on their own, choose their own path, instead of preferring the standard template solutions from others, and be bold to act on their own, and literally “take our own destiny into our own hands.”

“These are the attitudes and perspectives that should influence our national choices.

This quest for new possibilities must feel our determination to see the wheels of innovative thinking turn faster in our nation,” he added.

Pastor Mensah Otabil was however worried over the way citizens of the land had contributed in creating problems for the country, a situation he said “all should be part of the solution.”

According to the Pastor, most enquiring minds were incarcerated in dark dungeons filled with ancient taboos, reprisals from the world yonder, curses, ghosts and man-eating witches.

He described such minds as that which undermined the human effort towards progress.

“Formal education does not really have the power to change peoples' core assumptions. Is it any wonder that we continue to employ juju, necromancy and witchcraft as valid tools to help us advance in life? In our world, the means of progressing in life does not only rely on factors such as education, performance and experience, but the concoctions of the village diviner,” he said.

He expressed his gloomy thoughts on how some enlightened people in society, who are aspiring to political office, consider the concoctions and profusions of the soothsayer more potent than scientific opinion polls.

“We pretend to be enlightened in public, but resort to dubious spiritual excursions in the dark,” he noted.

Pastor Otabil implored the people to live exemplary lives that are worthy to emulate by future leaders of the country. Linking the aforementioned statements to that of the late William Ofori-Atta, Pastor Otabil described him as an astute politician, who combined his Christian values to that of politics, to achieve the ultimate for the country.

“Paa Willie is remembered, not only as notable pillar of Ghanaian politics, but also as a person who carried his Christian convictions of integrity, equity and tolerance of other people's views, into the public arena,” he noted.

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