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An Olive Branch in a Climate of Madness?

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I cannot help but continue to marvel at the madness that prevails in this country and which we see through acts of cruelty, disregard for regulations, nonsensical acts, indecency and foul language voiced publicly and loudly as if to demonstrate a sense of machismo.{{more}}

Someone told me recently that a friend of hers visiting from England declared to her that SVG was the only place she had been to where there appears to be no regard for order and regulations. When we look at the individual acts we see them as being cruel and despicable, but when we examine them as a whole and we put them into context, they appear to be symptomatic of a certain madness within the nation. We are still trying to deal with the individual acts without seeing them as part of a larger problem. Many persons over the years have commented on aspects of this madness. W. Anthony in the VINCENTIAN of January 6 states: “And while I am at it, let me highlight that there are too many people in this country who, inexplicably, find it their business to act like fools, ignoring the laws, including traffic laws that govern all of us…”

Hutchie, also in the VINCENTIAN of January 6 writes: “Citizens: still lawless. They care nothing about each other’s feelings or health comfort. Garbage and filth are placed randomly, the Noise Act is dead…” I seem to recall the CWSA complaining about ‘Illegal Dumping’. The National Sports Council had been trying to find out who cut the Covers at the Richmond Hill Playing Field. In fact, not only who cut it, but why? We will remember the stealing or removal of sensitive equipment at the top of the Soufriere volcano. Prime Minister Gonsalves, according to one of the newspapers, “has openly criticised the burning of a coal pit along the highway.” He pointed out that not only was it near to the main road but it was in a residential area. Then there is the making of U-turns on the busy Richmond Hill road, even on Fridays, and at a time when students and workers are on the road waiting on their transportation home.

Then I can tell you how this plays itself out in Cane Garden. Cows roam the roads, sometimes six or seven of them, moving on to peoples’ property and leaving the streets littered with dung. Some months ago, a vehicle was damaged by one of these animals. I am not sure that the driver was able to find out to whom it belonged. There are normally no chains, so you cannot even say that they have broken their chains. Then there are the sheep, not found now as regularly as the cows but present nevertheless. Some weeks ago I passed about five cows ‘liming’ through the lower part of Cane Garden, and then found about 15 sheep roaming in the northern section. This has become very challenging to drivers who have to negotiate around bad roads, and roaming sheep and cows. One has to wonder what next. It has become a free for all and anything goes.

The Olive Branch

Bassie calls it the Olive branch. The SEARCHLIGHT in its January 13 editorial sees it as a small step into a giant leap,

and a piece in that same issue claims that the “PM takes a big step toward reconciliation.” This arose from the Prime Minister’s statement that he had instructed his lawyers not to proceed with High Court Judgements against Opposition members Eustace and Cummings. The January 13 Editorial asks that the Opposition reciprocate.

We really have to begin to look at these matters critically. Clearly, one swallow does not a Summer make. After all the hype in 2001 about ‘Together Now’, we must not be so easily carried away with these things.

With so many Court cases brought by the Prime Minister against a number of people over the years, why was the focus on those involving Eustace and Cummings? Any gesture moving toward national reconciliation must involve more than this. It has to be part of a process, and the climate and context have to be created to give this meaning. The political bickering does not limit itself to individual members of the parties or the parties themselves.

It is a national issue, and I still maintain as I did before that the politicians, especially those in government, have to set the context to make all of this possible. This has taken place while a government parliamentarian was saying some insensitive things about Opposition parliamentarian Daniel Cummings’ health, to the point where the Prime Minister, not the individual himself, offered an apology. There is the outstanding issue of the Teachers who contested the last election as part of the Opposition’s team and who have not been given back their jobs, despite an agreement with the Teachers’ Union, and despite pleas from the public.

So much more is demanded. I am not sure in what way the Opposition should reciprocate. If I read Oscar carefully, he is making the point that what this has to involve is “the reconciliation and integration of our Vincentian community.” He states further that “We have to reconnect with each other in different ways and help love to gain more power and authority over us.” It calls, too, he says, for a complete makeover. So a process which we can see has to be put in place, even if it involves going back to Bethlehem and kissing the manger.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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