THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND NATIONAL UNITY
I am a patriot with indefatigable desire not only for national development but for national unity. I have discussed the subject of our national integration in a piece where I stated that “history has thrust upon our generation an indescribably important destiny- to complete the process of integration which our nation has long developed too slowly, but which is our most powerful chance for development”. This piece shall be made public soon.
In advocating for national unity, I am immeasurably thrilled with the person of Theodore Roosevelt (an American President from 1901-1909) and his position on the subject. An encounter with a survey on him in the book: Presidential Leadership is nothing below inspirational and instructive to the people of our nation Nigeria even at this point in time. I feel compelled to share part of the survey on him bothering on national unity.
“… For all his varied interests, national greatness was the dominant concern of his life.
Roosevelt’s patriotism professed a faith in America’s pioneer ethos, the virtues that had won the West and inspired Americans to believe in ourselves as the New Jerusalem, bound by sacred duty to suffer hardship and risk danger to protect the values of our civilisation and impart them to humanity…
…He abhorred the multiculturalist’s adulation of diversity as more important than national unity. He insisted that every American owed primary allegiance to American political ideals and to the symbols, habits, and consciousness of American citizenship. He believed such patriotism didn’t disparage the distinctions of experience in American history, but encompassed and transcended those experiences in a shared and noble endeavor of building a civilisation for the ages, in which all people may share in the rights and responsibilities of freedom.
He spoke out against “the spirit of provincial patriotism” that aggrandized the sentimental attachments people feel for their towns and states into something greater than their national pride. He warned that “the overexaltation of the little community at the expense of the great nation” had ruined many nations and had prevented the countries of South America from uniting in to one great republic.
Were he alive today he would denounce both liberal and conservative extremes, for the former’s emphasis on wants and the latter’s emphasis on rights, and for their mutual disregard for the duties inherent in American citizenship. “We have duties to others and duties to ourselves”, he avowed, “and we can shirk neither”. The Roosevelt code gave equal respect to self-interest and common purpose, to rights and duties.
“When I left college”, he wrote, “I had no strong governmental convictions beyond the very strong and vital conviction that we were a nation and must act nationally…”
Concluding the survey on him, it was written:
“He understood the central fact of American history: that we are not just an association of disparate interests forced by law and custom to tolerate one another, but a kinship of ideals, worth living and dying for, and that we deserve to have our ideals vigorously represented at home and abroad by our national government. He believed that people who are free to act in their own interests and are served by a government that kindles the pride of every citizen would receive their interests in an enlightened way. We would live as one nation, at the summit of history, “the mightiest republic on which the sun ever shone.”
There is no gainsaying that we share our diversity in ethnicity in common with the United States of America. The unity if the several parts of the nation have contributed immensely to its being a world power today. The giant of Africa can be revived in us as a nation if we get our unity straight and our priorities with values redefined. We will no doubt go farther with unity.
I’m trying to manage my words for pending further details but national unity is our pre-requisite for safety, development, peaceful co-existence, friendly business environment, enhanced diplomatic relationship…
Furthermore, I consider is expedient for anyone in public leadership to read the book: Presidential Leadership. The book is certainly not only for Presidents but also for those who work with the presidency among other citizens. Details of the business of the office of presidency are shared extensively through the survey of past leaders leaving room for a game of gamble or reinventing an already existent wheel, save for approach.
Olusola Akinyemi Esq.
The Joseph Initiative.