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So, this is 2013

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Well, we are into a new year, 2013. Many of us would have made New Year resolutions and some of us would have gone to church. To a large extent, these are more ritualistic than anything else. We feel we have to do them.

Outside of that feeling that we are expected to do these things there is no more meaning to them. We talk of the New Year, as if with the New Year, a new order of things has or will suddenly emerge. Monday was what we call Old Year’s Day.{{more}} Tuesday was New Year’s Day. All that has really happened is that Monday has given way to Tuesday. Despite our resolutions, little would have changed. No new order can come unless we make a special effort to put things in place.

The Searchlight newspaper, in its editorial in the issue of December 28 stated: “Importantly in 2013, we wish for a return to the good old-fashioned virtues of courtesy, kindness, thoughtfulness, empathy and respect for our fellow citizens, as these help to oil the machinery of day-to-day life and make the world a more pleasant place in which to live.” For some reason it extends its wish for a more pleasant place in which to live to the ‘world’.

In the long run that is good, because we are naturally a part of a broader entity, but let us first start with SVG. Just by wishing for these things are not going to make them a reality. 2013 is not by magic going to bring back to us the ‘good, old-fashioned virtues of courtesy.’ Empathy and respect for our fellow citizens are not going to emerge out of thin air. Of course, we wish for these things, but is our country putting anything in place to ensure that these happen? Even more, what do we need to put in place and whose responsibility is it?

We all, as citizens of this space, have the responsibility to do what we can in our particular spheres of operation. Very often we sit down and wait on government and naturally government has to create the kind of climate and environment that will allow all of us to make our contribution. This is easier said than done, because when we try to do these, the government feels that we are treading on sacred grounds that are reserved for them, as holy people. They are, however, even prepared to allow some of this to happen, but only when it fits in with what they want and does not in their view represent a criticism of how they function.

So, the issues identified by the editorial of the Searchlight are necessary, but how do we set about ensuring that we can make some progress on the way to restoring these values? I heard only a brief part of a sermon delivered by the Roman Catholic Bishop on Old Year’s Night. He spoke particularly about the divisiveness and hypocrisy in all areas of the society. He was certainly on the right track. Our focus quite often on these matters when we are discussing them is on government, but when we speak about leadership it should involve the private sector, non-governmental organisations, the churches, the schools, in fact all entities that make up what is St Vincent and the Grenadines. Leadership outside of government is often weak, full of hypocrisy, self-serving, politically partisan, sometimes corrupt. A number of organisations exist in name only, with only a few people functioning.

There are some who want the name and title, but without doing what they were selected to do.

So, here we go. The newspapers for December 28 highlighted a drug shoot- out in the Morne Ronde mountain, a security guard in Ribishi found dead with chop wounds. Barrouallie was quite active over the season. There were gunshots seemingly banging out the old year at a function at a disco on Boxing Day. Then there was a boat ride that went hopelessly wrong and had to be abandoned when fighting broke out on the boat. Are we going to abandon all this nonsense out of respect for the New Year? No, it does not happen like this. We hear that there were 28 homicides for 2012, up from the 25 in 2011.

But that was on December 28 and this might have gone up by December 31.

The News in its year end issue focused on some of the harsh realities of 2012; the economic climate, shortage of basic items at the hospital, vulgar lyrics on some mini-vans and the talk during the year of demon possession, particularly at schools. The Vincentian newspaper asked that we separate fact from fiction and called for our collective effort, since only this will guarantee our survival.

So, a lot has been thrown on the table for 2013. The big question is where do we go from here? Admittedly we have to separate fact from fiction, for we can only work with the realities. We have a big problem here because many of us tend to see fact where there is fiction. We deny reality even when it stares us in our faces. So, before we try to come up with solutions, let us ensure that we are dealing with what really exists and not with fantasy or an overblown imagination.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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