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Are we at war?

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It is now 6:45 pm on Wednesday, September 29. The first thing that struck me as I sat before my computer about to prepare this week’s article was an email from the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Industry and Commerce that communicated a Public Notice to the effect that the Chamber will from October 1 no longer operate the car parks at Arnos Vale and Kingstown. This came to me at a moment when I was reflecting on the sorry state of affairs in the country at this time. I had written a few weeks ago about the absurdity involved in Otto Sam’s transfer to NEMO.{{more}} I was then contemplating other recent transfers, those of Elvis Daniel, Paulette Williams and Joan O’garro and wondering what the hell was going on. These transfers and this manner of acting do nobody any good. They simply produce disgruntled individuals and create discomfort and inconvenience to many other people. The two teachers were from all reports excellent teachers who commanded the respect of their students and produced excellent results. Then there is Joan O’garro transferred from her position as Director of Library Services, Archives and the Documentation Centre to the Community College. Do these make sense? Are they punitive actions, and if so, for what reason? What signals are they meant to send because there must be some method in the apparent madness? The Chamber situation had been brewing for some time. The timing of this and the manner in which it was done are baffling. Is this a signal of love for the private sector?

It is as if we are at war, because along with these are a number of verbal battles being blasted around. Shelley Clarke becomes a sycophant and war is declared against the News newspaper. At a different time, he was a loyal soldier, but now he is coming in for a tongue lashing, and I am told that even aspects of his private life are being paraded as if he is an enemy of the country. Can ideas not contend? Are you an enemy for holding different beliefs, for taking different positions and questioning things? Ours is a country, one that is democratic and we hope will stay so. We are a people of different beliefs, religious, political and otherwise. We are black, coloured, Indian, Carib, Portugese, descendants of other Europeans. We are Methodists, Anglicans, Catholics, Spiritual Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Evangelicals and Rastafarians. All of this is what makes us what we are. We have even elected someone from Portugese extract to be leader of a country that is overwhelming black and coloured.

Do we go from fighting battles over political beliefs to fighting battles over our ancestry or over other aspects of what makes us what we are? Decent and right thinking Vincentians need to stand up and take back our country from the madness into which it is descending. I get the sense that I am not alone in feeling the way I do. Quite a number of other Vincentians are sickened by the direction in which things are moving. Sometimes I wonder if some of us are relieved of our consciences because we do things that will certainly come back to haunt us. Do we sleep comfortably at night or are we at war with the personas we have become? So there must obviously be an inner battle that will manifest itself in different, sometimes strange ways? I meet people whom I thought I knew but cannot now recognise. I am not sure if they are now wearing masks or if it is that they have now taken off the masks that they always wore. Do they ever look in a mirror? I wonder, for certainly they cannot now recognise what they see.

Is there some evil spirit that is haunting this country from which we need to rid ourselves? Why have we suddenly become the people we now seem to be? What has really gone wrong? At what time did things begin to go wrong? There are many more questions we need to ask, but some of us might be afraid of the answers and the implications of those questions. There are persons around whom we used to respect but no longer do because they no longer deserve that respect. They have become self seeking and will do anything to get what they want even if it means betraying the trust we had in them. Lying has now become for many persons a national past time which they indulge in without a flicker.

We blame the young ones for a lot of the ills in society, but we the elders have so lost our way that we give them nothing to hold on to. We often blame our political leaders for some of the evils that we suffer and this cannot be questioned, but we also have to blame those of us who have allowed things to get out of hand. Where are those other institutions that were supposed to mediate and where have the leaders gone? Indeed the institutions appear lifeless and redundant because the leaders have surrendered their souls to the evil spirits that haunt this land. The war will continue and there will be more victims but truth, honesty and decency will eventually prevail. But have you ever considered what the war is really all about? The gains achieved through trickery, evil and dishonest means will be short lived and it is only a matter of time before things resolve themselves and the country is purged of any evil spirit that had captured it.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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