Will we ever rise to the occasion?
When residents or nationals of a country are able to arrive at consensus on matters of national concern, social stability is enhanced, co-operation increases, and issues of conflict are limited.
Consensus about the direction in which a nation should go in order to secure the national good is manifested when nationals take actions beneficial to the country as a whole, even when they are unable to see the immediate personal benefit.
Unfortunately, there have been too many instances when we as Vincentians have not risen to the occasion, and St Vincent and the Grenadines has been the worse off for it.
Former Minister of Culture, the late John Horne, spearheaded years of work under the Sir James Mitchell administration on the development of a system of National Honours. Insignia had reportedly already been ordered, but in the end, nothing was changed, as we could not agree that walking away from colonial honours was in the best interest of our young nation. We could not even decide as a compromise, how best to bestow home grown honours alongside the colonial ones.
More than a decade after the National Honours effort was shelved, in 2009 we did not vote for constitutional change despite years of detailed work, consultation and public education by
the late Parnell Campbell and his team. We could not arrive at agreement even though parliamentarians on both sides of the House of Assembly declared the proposed constitution to be far superior to what we have now.
We have not been able to agree on a National Dress despite decades of trying and lots of effort – Why??
Since the launch of the coronavirus vaccination programme here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, we have given away to our neighbours 35,500 doses of the vaccine, which is 44 per cent more than has been administered to residents. We cannot agree for the national good that having 70 per cent of our country vaccinated is vital for our very existence.
Can we not lift ourselves to make decisions that are for the good of the country, even if as individuals we cannot see any immediate benefit?
Had we not been pushed into reclaiming our Independence in 1979; had the decision been entirely ours, chances are we would still be loitering on the doorsteps of Britain, arguing among ourselves about why we are not ready.