Over the past few weeks, I have written about the importance of each of us using Our Voice to articulate issues that are of concern to us as individuals and to the country. Through My Voice, I can influence who represents me in public office, demand services of my government, and as necessary express displeasure at what is not going right; however, through the same voice, I can choose to make meaningful contribution to the development of my nation through active participation in policy, socio-economic and political dialogue.
This requires of me, to make the deliberate choice to be aware of pertinent issues facing my country, community and home and to choose to be part of the solution. I have the choice of dialoguing with fellow citizens and challenging each other to work towards finding solutions or I can abdicate that responsibility to others, then turn around and blame them when the choices they have made do not further my interests or satisfy my personal needs.
As we commemorated World Peace Day on the September 21, the subject of discussion was My Peace. The ability for each one of us to choose to live peacefully in oneâ€™s home, community and nation. Again, this is a matter of individual choice. In any situation, I can choose to respond through non-violence or equally through violent means. I also emphasised that My Peace has a positive influence on those around me. Ultimately, peace is my personal business; I need to intentionally choose a life of peace before I can fully experience it.
This week I have been following the coverage of the American Presidential Campaigns and have noted with much interest the Obama campaign is focusing on the issue of personal choice. Then I ask myself, what is the message therein? What lessons can I draw from it? Well, here is what I have understood:
The choice not to participate in governance issues is not an option. It is individuals that ultimately determine, through their choice of who represents them and the direction that the country takes in terms of economic and political development. This requires of citizens a decided commitment to seeking information on the issues at play, determining what they expect of their leaders and articulating this clearly and holding those leaders to account. So when we have leaders who are not accountable, it could well be a result of choices that we have or have not made.
Each of us must choose to be fully participative in matters that have to do with the development of our families, communities and nation. It is our individual and collective choices that can shape the future of Malawi. The donors cannot and should not do this for us; it is the responsibility of Malawians. At times, there will be need to make painful choices of sacrifice and delayed gratification in order for us to attain the vision that we have for this country.
As Malawi is going through this rough patch, each of us has a responsibility to exercise the power of personal choice in shaping the future of Malawi. None of us can afford to sit on the sidelines as spectators, we all need to roll up our sleeves and assume that individual responsibility that our country requires of us. Rallying together, confronting the challenges and jointly seeking for solutions in turning the fortunes of Malawi around. Each citizen has a part to play. The future of this country is too important to be left in the hands of the government, the politicians and the development partners alone. Malawians need to use their voice to spell out the future they desire, make choices that will make that future a reality; doing so in constructive and peaceful ways. In the final analysis, the Malawi we end up living in will be a result of the collective choices we will have made. –The author is UNDP resident representative