There is an old Jewish saying; a poor man looks out the window of his house and see the birds, green meadows, clear streams and breathes the fresh air from his cabin. A rich man however paints the whole world silver so all he sees is the reflection of him.
When a dear friend told me this saying, I had visions of the majority of our people. Poor as they are, they are the happiest people in the country. Like their forefathers, they wake up every day looking for inspiration. Whether its praying to God, smelling the rich scent of the flora, admiring the might of gashing rivers, yep, its uplifting. Hard working folks they are, they toil the land to conjure a healthy harvest of yams, kau kau and taro, they casted nets for the fishes in the sea, drone the land for abundance of boars, wallabies and muruks. The landscape was indeed plentiful.
For the past 40 years, our landscape has dramatically changed and so have our values. Our simpleton wantoks have learnt that opportunities come not from the land and sea alone but from the shining bright valleys of Lae, Goroka, Hagan, Wewak, Port Moresby etc where education, jobs, crime and prostitution give way for a better life.
When they go back to the village, they’re people are mesmerized by their glittery clothes, hip mobiles and their views on everything. They are progressive and they quickly gain respect. Church elders want them to be leaders, local school wants them to be on the board, petty gangs give them the lions share of stolen goods, young girls want to be like them as they see the rewards of getting paid to be beautiful.
Unlike their forefathers, when they wake up to look outside the window for inspiration, they want to paint it silver. So when we see the view of Fairfax Harbor from their plush offices, corrugated iron shacks in Bundi Camp, the ceiling of a motel in Hagan, they want to see themselves. Yep, gardens have been replaced with bank balances; artisanal fishing with crime and the hunt is a couple of plastic papers for a screw. PNG is a melting pot of the old - new, city - village, highlands - coastal, kong kong – whiteman, homemade – factory made, pumuk - sex tapes, Christian – non Christian, this is the landscape of PNG.
So my fellow Papua New Guineans, I ponder what nation we have become. Is the silver landscape reflecting a few, good for our country or are the old days where the land was plentiful? I don’t know, but living in the now, I love the challenge our great land demands. Oh yeah, it’s tough, sleezy and cold but when that smile breaks up in the faces of our people, it’s a land of hope. A land where a keledscope of cultures is in abundance, where tenacious rough neck men pride on their conquests, beautiful mothers uphold us in prayers, brothers that stand with us when all is lost, sisters that comfort us when we are nothing and our children that look at us as the only important thing in the world.
We hold the destiny of our nation and it is my prayer we embrace everything our nation has because that is who we are. It is only by doing this; we can begin to ask the difficult questions on how to improve our way of life.