Winner of the 2011 UNESCO/Divine Word University Award for Communication and Development.Archived in National Library of Australia
PANDORA Archive. 1 million hits as of Friday, November 16, 2012; 2 million hits as of Monday, July 14, 2014; and growing...No. 1 Blog in Papua New Guinea
Yesterday's news from Papua New Guinea
is truly historic, and it raises questions about whether there might
just be light at the end of the tunnel. It is impossible not to be
tantalized by the potential of these events to change the course of
Papua New Guinea's history. What's important, however, is that we focus
on what this means to the people. The current administration seems too
caught up in worrying about their own skins to pay attention to how
their people are doing. Just call it missing the desert for the sand.
When thinking about the recent troubles, it's important to
remember three things: One, people don't behave like computer programs,
so attempts to treat them as such are going to come across as foreign.
Computer programs never suddenly blow themselves up. Two, Papua New
Guinea has spent decades torn by civil war and ethnic hatred, so a
mindset of peace and stability will seem foreign and strange. And three,
hope is an extraordinarily powerful idea: If corruption is Papua New
Guinea's curtain rod, then hope is certainly its alarm clock.
When I was in Papua New Guinea last August, I was amazed by
the people's basic desire for a stable life, and that tells me two
things. It tells me that the citizens of Papua New Guinea have no
shortage of potential entrepreneurs, and that is a good beginning to
grow from. Second, it tells me that people in Papua New Guinea are just
like people anywhere else on this flat earth of ours.
So what should we do about the chaos in Papua New Guinea?
Well, it's easier to start with what we should not do. We should not let
seemingly endless frustrations cause the people of Papua New Guinea to
doubt their chance at progress. Beyond that, we need to be careful to
nurture these first inklings of a moderate, modern society. The
opportunity is there, but I worry that the path to moderation is so
poorly marked that Papua New Guinea will have to move down it very
slowly. And of course Port Moresby needs to come to the table.
Speaking with a small business entrepreneur from the large
Protestant community here, I asked her if there was any message that she
wanted me to carry back home with me. She pondered for a second, and
then smiled and said, respre austee, which is a local saying that means roughly, "A cat may look at a Queen."
I don't know what Papua New Guinea will be like a few years
from now, but I do know that it will remain true to its cultural
heritage, even if it looks very different from the country we see now. I
know this because, through all the disorder, the people still haven't
lost sight of their dreams.