Sharpen Then Cut
I have always enjoyed the aphorisms of Abraham Lincoln. One
bit of country wisdom worth remembering was Lincoln's comment
on chopping down a tree: "If I had six hours to chop down a
tree, I'd spend the first four hours sharpening the axe".
Instead, what do most people do? They take a whack at the
tree, put down the axe, measure the cut, pick up the axe, and
whack the tree in a different spot. As they repeat the
process, they become frustrated and exhausted. Only then do
they think, "I should have sharpened the axe."
In government the same process occurs. The stakes are
usually much higher. If only we would take the time to
sharpen our pencils before we rush headlong toward foolishly
squandering our natural resources.
It is not too late. Maybe we can pause after the first cut.
We can sharpen that axe and work on our first principles. In
Liberia, the Johnson-Sirleaf administration has done just that
with the review of concessions agreements. This is a laudable
The process has been positive in the logging industry.
Executive Order No. 1 canceled all forest concessions of
Liberia and established a Forestry Reform Monitoring Committee.
They have been actively working out new laws, policies and
procedures guiding the forest concessions.
Liberia is showing a strong, positive commitment to serious
governance in the logging industry in order to re-establish its
control over the forestry sector. More can be done but the FDA
and the leadership of the President are proving that they can do
the job. They have come to a full stop after that first cut.
Through a concerted effort, the re-evaluation process will ensure
that the logging industry can advance in a responsible manner
that will benefit the Liberian people.
What about the mining sector? Let us sharpen the pencils and
work for reforms that give the people of Liberia efficient,
effective, transparent and responsible management of the
country's geologic resources.
J. Carl Dealy