I’ll Take You There « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

I’ll Take You There

Liberian Literacy, On the Ground


What is the real pay?  Help offered; help accepted. Timeless.

Here is a final window into our most recent journey with the Applied Scholastics African Literacy Campaign (3/23 – 4/3/23).  See also, Letter from Liberia (March 24, 2023); The Wrong Thing to Do: Nothing (March 25, 2023) and Kofi, Liberian Journey Continues (March 29, 2023).


Today, Thursday 3/29, we kick off our two-day Literacy and Leadership workshop with twenty Liberian community advocates, including leaders of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY).

Kofi will be taking part, coming back for day two tomorrow to watch some of the Tim-and-Jay show and to offer his twenty-cents to these 20-somethings.

Jay was only the first of now tens-of-thousands West African youth on my track. These relative newcomers to life as we think we know it are like no other, motivated because there are only two choices in the crushing gravity of this region: SURVIVE (!) or succumb. They choose the first.

Yes, the Monrovian FLY people have arrived, an “easy” motorbike journey around the African-strength traffic out there.  Here also by swift word of mouth are four or five from Bong and Bomi counties, each a minimum three-hour drive provided one starts out well before dawn as they must have done.

Suddenly 2005 is 2023 and Jay is a generation removed from the youth category.  He offers his experience – an overspreading shade from the glare of impossible conditions – so they might in turn shelter others far beyond his individual reach to do so.  Hmm, I could say the same thing to him and his contemporaries, with 18 years of fruition and counting.

Jay takes a census. Only two college grads here, about half with some college and the rest none.  Whether academic level is an asset or a liability is a question.

Jay dives right in, posing a leader’s role – e.g., responsibility, courage, vision – by several quotes, including:

  • “Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.” George Bernard Shaw

This one probably creates the most confusion and eventually the most traction. Are they committed to going along to get along or to confronting the manifest injustices that pass as business as usual?

Then, there’s:

  • “I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion, than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.” Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand

This too gives them pause but they see the point: leaders lead, the best not just creating followers’ confidence in the leader’s judgment but inspiring certainty and determination in themselves.

  • “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Another world-beater.  It points to higher creativity, courage and of course to the key to highway: full responsibility across the boards.

Then, the segue:

  • “It is not man’s dreams that fail him.  It is the lack of know-how required to bring those dreams into actuality.” L. Ron Hubbard

Thus, we introduce the Study Tech fundamentals, purpose, attitude (more to know) and the three barriers.

Jay ends the day, as usual, with a challenge (and homework assignment): three or four pages on “Is Life Fair?”

Friday dawns.  Now in full counsellor mode – spiffy suit and tie — Kofi appears soon after we start.  He’s in his element, pressing these younger “Jays” to recognize their position is not “someday I’ll be a leader,” they are leaders now.  Do, don’t ponder.

With the vital importance of defined and of properly defined words established, Jay establishes through discussion the key terms of the Liberian Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of Liberia and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

So, what is a pledge?

Pledge: A serious promise or agreement

Marriage, religion are serious commitments, pledges.

What is allegiance?

Allegiance: loyalty to a person, country, group, etc.

Loyalty: Having or showing complete and constant support for someone or something

They have been mouthing these words throughout their school days.  Did they understand what they were actually saying?  Jay presses the “serious” and “complete and constant.” It is starting to dawn; this is not your run-of-the-mill tread-water workshop.

What is a flag? Symbol of a nation or other unified group.  A republic? Representative government. Indivisible? Cannot be divided. And …

Liberty: A state or condition of people who are able to act and speak freely

Justice: The quality of fairness, evenhandedness 

Jay is now dialed up to maximum impingement.  These ideals – liberty and justice– are not static gifts from some outside supreme and benevolent authority, they are the operating states of this nation only assured by the solemn, unconditional commitment of its citizens. He leaves to each of those attending: either he or she is a player true and competent to the pledge or s/he’s a pawn and spectator in the game.  Yep, not your “normal” endure-it-and-forget-it symposium.

We review the responses.

First, is life fair? Samples:

Life is unfair. There are people who cannot eat one nutritious meal in a week or beyond.  They cannot afford adequate clothing. They are sick often because of their state of deprivation.  They are supposed to be our brothers and sisters in God but they are even helpless against biting insects.

Life is fair.  We are not helpless; we have the power to change our conditions for the better.  Don’t like your body? Change it?  Don’t like your friends? Change them.  Don’t like our quality of life? Work to improve it.

Life is neither fair or unfair.  Life is how you live it and what you make it.  There are people born with disabilities who have thriving businesses.  There are those without such supposed limitations sitting on the street begging for food or money.

Then, among the successes:

“With Study Tech under my belt, I now know the learning barriers with which I have collided. I’ve always just memorized stuff and later forgetten it, never having really understood the material.

“Yesterday at home, I reflected on Jay’s emphasis on purpose and responsibility and decided to deactivate my Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. I can now focus on obtaining knowledge every day …

“This training came at a very great time in my life.  I am starting over, putting me first and learning new things every day.  Thanks, Applied Scholastics for this opportunity. It will not go to waste.”  JTG, Federation of Liberian Youth


“I’m not fair to myself.  I have made so many mistakes, going through the motions.  This workshop has honestly put me back on track  … I have the courage to believe in myself. I pledge to change my mind set, to stop child’s play, to believe in my own vision and to invest my time and energy into doing things that are worthwhile.” TMJ, Bomi County


“Thank God for His tremendous guidance throughout this all-important workshop; and thanks to our thought-provoking trainers for their vigorous and inspiring message.
“We should all stop pretending to the public as if we know all or are well-equipped where we are not.  To truly contribute to community betterment, we must put in the time and mold our intention to effective planning and action. It is my responsibility to competently carry out my part in this noble undertaking.” NMF, Bong County

… and so, we work.

Tim Bowles
Paynesville, Liberia
March 30, 2023

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