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Opinions Fri, 2 Sep 2011

Ghana Is Worth Dying For

By Samuel Adjei Sarfo, J.D.

The recent dismissal by government of Dr. Frimpong Boateng as Head of the National Cardiothoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has been met with some justifiable furor by many well-meaning Ghanaians. Dr. Frimpong Boateng is a genius with the treatment of the heart who is reputed to have abandoned his lucrative position abroad and come home to help set up the Center. The manner of his dismissal has therefore scarred the national consciousness and led to questions as to whether Ghana is worth dying for. It is the submission of this writer that such a question is moot.

Nobody suggests here that any demand is being made for physical death of the citizens for the country per se. If it were so, I would have argued that a call for the supreme sacrifice is already catered for in having a standing army on oath to shed their blood for the motherland. Thus the sacrifice in this context is a metaphor which relates to our ordinary duties which are implicit in the very notion of our citizenship: that in exchange for our security and protection, we give up portions of our rights and take up certain civic responsibilities. Among these are the responsibilities to be law abiding, to promote unity and cohesion and to function in our various roles to give meaning to the national socio-economic advancement.

Must the nation prove itself worthy before its citizens perform their duty? This is not the case. We must perform our duty even if the nation sucks! This is the floor of our citizenship. The ceiling is that our very nature as humans requires of us to do the most good to the most people at the most time. In doing this, it is a wrong principle to begin thinking about whether those we daily die for are worthy of our death. If we are doing some good because those to whom we do the good are regarded worthy of it, we are dabbling in hypocrisy and reciprocity, and not in righteousness for its own sake and we will be disappointed indeed. This is because our best efforts will be rewarded with the most evil betrayal. We will look for a worthy heaven only to find that there is no heaven. We will go to church to find solace only to realize that our lives constitute a panoply of sheer chaos. We will strain the last sinew of our strength to look after our children only to find them worthless. Ingrate friends to whom we give the most help will lead us like sheep to the slaughter. And as our children, friends, family and society betray us and prove themselves worthless, we will also reduce our acts of goodness and replace them with commensurate evil until in our final transformation, there will be nothing good left in us; we will evolve from the most good to the most evil. What has happened here? We began by thinking that if our children, friends and societies are not worth dying for, then, well, they are not worth dying.

If a person is seeking for any good reward before performing his duty, then the person will neither have any reward or any duty. This is because ingratitude is a natural human propensity, and reward for a person’s good acts is rather a default in the human condition. If you do good to others and are not rewarded with evil from them, then you have escaped the natural consequences of your action. But that is never an excuse to withhold your duty to do the right thing because doing good is the responsibility of every true human and the reward for good is within itself.

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Thus, instead of “Is Ghana worth dying for?”, the question ought to be, “ Are we worthy enough to die for Ghana?” If we are, we will not be looking for a quid pro quo in the performance of our duties. We will be honest, diligent, patriotic and altruistic because we must as citizens. We will not be asking, “What am I going to gain with all my struggles in the service of my country?” We will not wait for the government to be responsible or efficient; indeed, the government will always be corrupt and inept, but the individual has utmost control over his acts of goodness, and this control should not be short-changed by the ingratitude of the government. Ghana must not be worth dying for before we die for her; we must die for Ghana because we are her worthy citizens.

Indeed, the result of not dying for something is that we die for nothing. And the source of misery in our world is that too many of us are looking for the things that are worth dying for before we die for them. But there is a misplacement of even the things we are busy dying for. We think money is worth dying for, but we are not satisfied no matter how much money we have. We think the best food will make us happy, but we are rewarded with the misery of weight. …….

The secret to all happiness is in “dying for something” with abandon, in sharing our wealth with the undeserving, in laughing with strangers,….in doing the best for our country in our role as citizens; and we as citizens must prove ourselves; the nation has no duty to assert itself as worthy. If we fail to do our duty because of a perception that our country is not worth dying for, we will become redundant in its evolution, and be transformed by events, instead of transforming events.

Dr. Frimpong Boateng has done a worthy job for the country not because the country is worthy of his sacrifice but because he is a worthy citizen capable of his sacrifice. If he is looking for reward from a country he has so diligently served, he will find none, and bitterness will transform him and blunt his genius. Many have chosen that path and forfeited their place in history. If he remains in the service of his country with renewed passion, he will win bigger accolades and live his life to the fullest and gain glory beyond his death. It is moot to ask if Ghana is worth dying for. Ghana will never be worthy enough to die for, but her citizens should nonetheless be worthy enough to die for Ghana.

Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo lives in Austin, Texas. You can email him at sarfoadjei@yahoo.com

Columnist: Sarfo, Samuel Adjei
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