Put yourself in my place
A LOT OF PRAISE has been heaped, deservedly, both officially and in the media, on the many persons, organisations,
business entities and countries which have responded positively to the eruption of La Soufriere volcano. No praise is too high for them and we can only urge them to continue.
Yet there is evidence that many of our negative traits are still with us, even amplified in some cases in current-
day conditions. We are still witnessing the selfishness, greed, lack of respect for the efforts of others; impatience and, unfortunately discrimination based on a class basis that we witnessed in 1979. Sadly too, some of
us have not yet purged ourselves of the colonial concept that somehow the rest of us are at a higher level than the
indigenous people – the Kalinago and Garifuna people. It might not be as bad as when we enjoyed the derogatory
calypso, “Carib running wild” half a century ago, but the old prejudices are still with us.
They might not be in the majority, but an uncomfortable number of people still display the attitude as though
it is the fault of those who have had to evacuate their homes, not a natural disaster which could have affected
a far larger number of persons if the location had been otherwise. And there are still those among us who attempt to exploit the situation – business people who take advantage of shortages, and worst of all, those who still harbour the detestable habits of sexual exploitation of women displaced and in need.
There is an old reggae song which is very applicable to all these offenders. It is titled , “Put Yourself in my Place”, in other words just imagine that you are in the position of a person or family even, in an evacuation centre.
Just imagine that instead of the volcano being at the northern extremity of the island, it was situated
say under Mt St Andrew overlooking the most densely populated part of the island. Put yourself in the place of
an evacuated family, having to flee your home and being housed in a centre in say, Owia or Chateaubelair. Consider
as well that instead of 16,000 – 18,000 persons evacuated the number would be 40,000 or 50,000, bearing in
mind that there would be fewer facilities.
Then think of the CWSA having now to provide water for that number of people in the north of the island. Reflect
on the huge disruptions in the field of employment, Kingstown and its environs shut down with thousands
made jobless. I won’t ask you to imagine the “country folk” looking down on the “Town evacuees”, but it would
be good to put yourself in that place. And remember too, that even in private housing, the supply will be far
outmatched by the demand.
Yes, maybe if we take the time to reflect in this direction, to put the shoe on our own feet instead, it may help
us to change attitudes. What say You?