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As we enter 2005

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Another year has come and with it the usual resolutions and pledges that will soon peter out.

Everyone hopes for a better year, more productive and prosperous and filled with all other kinds of hopes and expectations. Behind all of this is the human being, the real man or woman. Some of us live a lie and will at some time have to come to grips with our consciences. Many of us are masqueraders pretending to be what we are not. We have different agendas, but mostly self serving.{{more}}

There is really no community as we try to fulfil our agendas at the expense of everything else. The individual is what is important in this scheme of things. A society based on market principles is emerging, admittedly in mind and not yet in practice. Everything is now being given a monetary value and the market will decide who gets what, when and how. In this kind of society integrity and principle are thrown out of the window. Evidently, too, in this kind of society the poor will continue to suffer, as any protection from the market is removed. Sacred cows like water might even lose their sanctity.

There is too, in our society, a conspiracy of silence as we continue to turn a blind eye to much that is wrong. This is especially evident among those of us who claim to be in the progressive stream. A recent article I read on Walter Rodney as we prepare for the 25th anniversary of his death has allowed me to reflect once more on the progressive movement of the 1970s and 1980s.

The year 1983 was indeed a turning point as Grenada was central to all of this. One of the things that has always jumped out to me in my analysis of the tragic events in Grenada was the fact that sympathisers of the regime were prepared to overlook the many signs signalling trouble and to attempt to rationalise any misdemeanour. When they woke up to the reality of what was happening, it was too late.

We have a responsibility to help to guide the process, for democracy within a party is crucial and members have to be prepared to contend issues. It must not be a case of singing out of the same song sheet and voices must therefore be heard.

Our leaders are often shielded from some of the harsh realities. We tell them what we think they want to hear and simply see our role as that of rationalising positions. I often make the point that our leaders and politicians will do as much as they think they can get away with. Our silence and rationalisations give them the space to do what they want to do until it reaches a point where we become immobile and unable to take genuine positions, having accepted so much before. The more we compromise and allow things to develop, the more it is going to be difficult for us to ever stand up.

We are indeed a nation of talkers driven by expediency and with rhetoric designed to confuse and mislead. In the end what is real is not what we say for language is a tool that can be used to manipulate, but what is important is who we are as reflected in our actions and in the lives we live. Communication technology is indeed powerful and revolutionary in that it can and will uncover and expose us. Everything we do is now immediately accessible and our lives become an open book. We can, indeed, hide from this for only so long. Politicians have always hidden under the view that our people will talk but soon forget the issue and go back to accepting the status quo. They always make the point that people have short memories. But, hopefully, this is a new world and certain stark realities would force us to act. The history of our country should demonstrate to us that we often appear dormant and unwilling to act but are capable of confronting the challenges as we did in 1935 and in 1962 and at other times. On those occasions the options were limited. Today there are wider options and possibilities that call for different strategies.

What does 2005 have in store for us, for the people of this country? Obviously what is in store for us depends on what we are prepared to create and tolerate. This is likely to be a challenging year for us as individuals and for the country as a whole. We will have to draw on all of our reserves to meet those challenges. It is likely, too, that this will be an election year and that brings its own challenges.

Unfortunately in an election year the divisions will widen and work against a common approach to our problems. The development of the country will take a back seat as political gymnastics and electioneering issues take front page. Prime Minister Gonsalves has hinted to Ricky Singh that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is likely to enter the Caribbean Single Market during the course of the year. The Prime Minister certainly knows something that the rest of us do not. All the evidence appears to suggest that we are not ready. I am not sure what is the test of readiness, but the position taken by Dr. Kenny Anthony is indeed a sensible one – that is, to have an independent body determining the readiness of the countries, for the consequences of entering in a state of unpreparedness could be damaging indeed. So far it appears that Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Barbados are the countries taking the initial move. What happens after is anybody’s guess.

We have at the national level to monitor the state of crime and to prevent a repetition of last year. HIV/AIDS is still being talked about but not many of us appear to be listening. When we look at the number of persons killed by the earthquake and tsunami in Asia we have to be aware of how easy it is for the total population of a country like ours to be wiped out. The HIV/AIDS figures are already alarming and obviously bringing an enormous burden on us to cater to those affected, particularly the children.

The cake is only so big. A bigger slice taken from one section means a smaller one elsewhere, that is, except if we bake a bigger cake. But do we have the ingredients and the right recipe? All of us have to take up the mantle and face the challenges and in so doing to demonstrate that we have the power. Power, indeed, rests with the people. It is even more so in an election year.