From the Editor’s Keyboard

Change of attitude in Sierra Leone: A Scientific View

4 April 2008 at 10:30 | 603 views


By Mohamed Boye Jallo Jamboria, PV correspondent, Norway.

A lot has been said and written about the need for a change of attitude in Sierra Leone and there is a lot more to come. As in every issue and as the norm is, a plethora of schools of thought have grown over this issue. Naturally all these schools of thought follow the present mental status, which is, casting doubt on the need or playing the sycophants into blowing the horn of Attitude Change.

As the case is also, and clearly exemplifying our social comprehension of, and the level of seriousness we attach to issues, a nickname has already been manufactured for President Koroma, namely, a corrupt form of the words "Attitudinal Change." In effect parochial and petty pictures are normally painted of issues that we ought to attach high priority to.

Some have even asked what attitudes that must be changed? Those who have posed that question and especially so those who make claims to being educated must think back and ask how much they have actually gained from their education.

Well, of course some of them may want to interpret this as an insult but it is not and I will justify my saying. Every society, human institution and enterprise is a life form that experiences a lot of dynamics and which also can be prone to static forces. Mathematicians, of course will understand this better through the principles of vectors and scalar quantities.

Also, we normally tend to lose sight of the fact that when we have been involved in a routine for some time , we tend to blend this routine by putting official and personal routines on the same priority level such that we lose sight of efficiency and expediency takes over.

The victim of such a situation is normally our attitudes. As members of that collective, we always have the tendency to employ the services of some external factor to rectify negative products of such attitudinal problems.

For most of us and because of the very strong and almost primitive attachment to religion and domains of spirituality, we must usually, at the individual level, address these problems by visits to one spiritual leader or the other.

Some people go to the new churches that purport to have direct communion with God, the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ and so can perform miracles. Others go to the Alpha man or some other spiritual guru that they hope will effect change.

In the end they mostly end up not getting this change they are looking for because they have not looked at the problem from the right perspective nor have they looked in the right place for the answer. The lack of rightness in getting answers clearly illustrates how deep the problem is and yet we are denying that it exists and being dishonest about the need for change due to diverse political and or sycophantic positions we take, which in themselves manifest attitudinal problems.

Usually, in our myopic and desperate quest for change we blame external forces that do not exist or if they exist have nothing to do with our self made problems. We end up making smart people rich and deepen our misery, hoping against hopeless hope.

At the corporate level, instead of employing those who can give independent and unbiased answers to our problems we treat issues of very serious relevance as avenues of job creation for our cronies tending to take such issues on the political level. In the process we lose sight of social and developmental values and as a result the procedures of addressing these problems become counter productive and a channel of losses to the country whilst making rich men out of a few who are directly involved.

The need for attitudinal change is a permanent issue both at the individual and collective levels .So, we must not trivialise it like any other issue or political propaganda.

If attitudes are constantly put under check and if any change takes place which brings about benefits to the country it is not a political party that will reap the benefits but the people. Also denying the fact that there is need for change and not only this time round is like saying life and all the factors involved in living are static and do not need propulsion. Even if they were static, there are static forces that experience levels of dynamism as in the case of static electricity which experiences dynamism when the sparks occur due to ionic motion and interactions.

As far as natural laws and science go for now it is only conditions of permanent inertia ,which is death, that do not need change.

So if some are asking what and how to change the answer is we all have to take a good look at ourselves and deeply introspect and meditate to see in the mind’s eye what has to change and how we have to effect such change and this goes for all from top to bottom and bottom to top.

Otherwise let us forget it and continue with the present modus oprandi and wait for our self-created damnation. If we are not honest about the need for a change in our present circumstances then let us close all the religious places of worship as they are places of blasphemy and wishful thinking. The great religions including African religions tell us that the body is the temple of God meaning that we are demi-gods in our individual existence and that we have a mental power that can be put to creative or destructive use according to our will. Or maybe we have still not understood the essence of religion and /or the interrelationship between religion, science and our daily lives.

Change in itself is a dynamic force that constantly changes, influenced by a lot of vector and scalar quantities, and given that it is one of those forces of existence we have to live with then we are sure to need adjustments to suit the dictates of these dynamics in space and time. Given that this is true for all societies and temporal frameworks then we definitely need a change of attitude especially so when our elders have put us at the bottom of the global ladder even though we have a lot more valuable resources than most other countries do not have.

Within the realm of natural science we can also use the principle of entropy to justify the need for a change of attitude in our social system in Sierra Leone.

First, however, we need to get a clear picture of what this principle is all about and how it can be applied to living social systems.Before we delve into the principle itself we must have certain constants which are themselves scientific and ubiquitous facts.

First is that society is a living system and that each member of society is in essence like a molecule in a body that undergoes and experiences all the forces in the realm of the natural laws and most importantly the laws of thermodynamics.

If these premises are accepted and applied then it stands to reason that all other laws must be logically applicable even though not all can be accepted as the dynamics in focus involve intelligent living forces in a collective that can be considered operating within the laws of thermodynamics.

Without having to go into the nitty-gritty of the principle as it applies in the natural science of physics let us break it down for all to understand and appreciate.

Scientifically, in thermodynamics (a branch of physics), entropy is a measure of the unavailability of a system’s energy to do work.

It is a measure of the randomness of molecules in a system and is central to the second law of thermodynamics and the combined laws of thermodynamics, which deal with physical processes and whether they occur spontaneously. Spontaneous changes, in isolated systems, occur with an increase in entropy. Spontaneous changes tend to smooth out differences in temperature, pressure, density, and chemical potential that may exist in a system, and entropy is thus a measure of how far this smoothing-out process has progressed.

Explained in ordinary terms, the Principle of Entropy has complex origins and effects that are easy to understand and notice. This principle has its origin in the Cycles of the Universe and represents a phase of the Cycle, the other being its symmetric Principle, the Principle of Sintropy.

It is a subordinate to the Principle of Time, thus it applies to the phenomenon that occurred in the past. According to this Principle, all organized forms of matter or information request more energy than those less organized. Thus all things tend to lose their order and their initial energy, unless they are constantly fuelled by energy. Warm things will get cold, objects deteriorate, life ends, and everything else is damaged by this principle. A window breaks and transforms into an unorganized form of matter, but broken shards will never turn into a window if not fuelled by energy (work, time etc.). This Principle applies to everything from common physics to abstract matters like the evolution of a business, that turns into failure if it doesn’t receive investments of energy, money etc.

The same applies to society. If society does not receive investment in energy that takes the form of investments in the mental energy for entropy not to occur then that society is sure to die out.

To simple minds this may seem outlandish and not in proportion with what is happening in Sierra Leone at this point in time. However it is not if examined from a deep logical and analytic perspective.

Also, from a correlated point of view, in systems ecology, as another example, the entropy of a collection of items comprising a system is defined as a measure of their disorder or equivalently the relative likelihood of the instantaneous configuration of the items. Moreover, according to theoretical ecologist and chemical engineer Robert Ulanowicz, “that entropy might provide a quantification of the heretofore subjective notion of disorder has spawned innumerable scientific and philosophical narratives.” In particular, many biologists have taken to speaking in terms of the entropy of an organism, or about its antonym negentropy, as a measure of the structural order within an organism.

Examined from a social perspective, this analogy can represent society and given the fact that decay is at the crux of the matter and that it involves time and space, then we can infer that the Sierra Leonean society is at this point in time and space undergoing some form of organic entropy.

The concern here is structural order and/or disorder it applies to the ecological system. Given this then we can imply that society being made up of living organisms which are part of an ecological system is apt to experience entropy if and when no investment is made on the energy domain so as to transform that energy from it potential to kinetic states.

In lay terms, Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans have a lot of potential energy in both human and natural resources but it seems lack the catalytic force(s) to convert these energies into sustainable kinetic energies for the acceleration of society in positive and progressive directions that will be ordered and symmetric.

Instead, what obtains now can be likened to a state of instability brought about by the influence of energies external to the internal structural (society’s) energy potentials. These external energy influxes vary but are all inherent products of a state of entropy resulting out of a lack of a catalyst that can transform the potent social thermodynamics into a kinetic energy that will accelerate society through the vector that tends towards the maintenance of order and progress.

Well, this again can be outlandish to simple minds but simply put, Sierra Leone is in dire need of a trigger or catalyst that will effect a transformation of the latent human and natural resources which are in abundance, into a motivated state that will enhance the structured, orderly and progressively stable maintenance of society in a direction that will be beneficial to all.

How or where does the issue of attitude come in?

Given that man is a living being that is propelled by a form of energy that is simply called intelligence and that the intelligence of man is a product of the energies produced by the abstract force which is the mind, then it is logical that if things are not working out then there is a need for proper diagnosis of the present use to which the energies of the mind are put and for a reorientation of the general state of the energy of the mind.

Also, given that the energy of the mind is seen to be put into asymmetrical use due to the prevalence of individualistic rather than collectivistic energies in the ecological system that represents the society then it stands to reason and is logical that some form of change in the mode of utility be triggered.

If and when the energy of the mind do not coordinate and /or are asymmetrical to the vectors required for a synchronised and symmetric state of order to be maintained, then it is rational to examine, formulate and implement a change that will bring about a transformation from that state of entropy. Otherwise, if this state of entropy continues then the result will be a collective of highly charged ionic individual social bodies existing in disorder.

These highly charged ionic bodies take various forms and structures beginning with the members of society with divergent aims and objectives to pockets of collectives of members of the same whose aims and objective are at variance with and to the required collective aims and objectives.

In such a state of existence, much energy is expended but with little or no work done.

Given that this analysis and analogy is accepted then the need for national goal setting and work planning is a must and does not exclude or preclude any person or group. It must be planned and executed with openness, transparency and tolerance by every member of society within and without.

By implication, the government and the governed must admit and accept the need for change and it must not be politicised nor marginalised to suit certain hidden agendas nor must it be used as propaganda for the purpose of maintaining a special interest group or status quo.

In other words,the use of this principle in the domain of psychodynamics wherein the it is applied to study the interrelationship of various parts of the mind, personality, or psyche as they relate to mental, emotional, or motivational forces especially at the unconscious level. That kind of anlysis is needed and applicable to Sierra Leonean society now.

Sierra Leoneans must do some individual introspection and also an institute or special body must be charged to research into the multiple factors and parameters that will enhance this much needed change from a state of entropy. It is such a big task that political statements or speeches alone cannot bring about the required results as energies put in from that platform will always tend to be entropic given that the immediate external environment which is the society will render any plan or act suspect, given the fact that there is a present lack of an organic catalyst which is a product of lack of trust and an acute divergence between the governors and the governed in political and social views and goals.


* Mohamed Boye Jallo Jamboria(photo) is a Sierra Leonean educator,trade unionist and writer based in Bergen, Norway. Back home, he taught high school Geography and English and was a senior executive of the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union(SLTU). Like most of the PV staff, he is a devoted Pan-Africanist and radical thinker.