Activism is action, not anger. Let’s get to work!
The reaction of some Vincentians to any good news about the country is perplexing and sad.
It is well documented that some nationals oppose every capital project and initiative for partisan political reasons — the feeling being that if the projects succeed, they will be feathers in the cap of the Government and work to the detriment of the Opposition. This attitude, while lamentable, is understood and certainly not limited to our nationstate.
We also understand criticism when things go wrong or are when services are delivered in a substandard manner — we must never waiver in our quest to get things right, and drawing shortcomings to the attention of those who need to hear is part of that process.
Our concern is not with merited constructive criticism, but the extreme anger which spews from some of our people whenever our country is rated favourably by an international organization or achieves a milestone on the world stage.
Why the anger?
As recently as last month, a senior representative of an international development organization declared that SVG, along with Barbados, is a public health champion of the Caribbean — an assessment made by his organization based on an analysis of facts and figures.
He said that our public health outcomes were better than others in the Eastern Caribbean, citing more beds per inhabitant, better life expectancy, lower child mortality, our excellent ante-natal care and because almost every birth is professionally assisted by a healthcare professional.
One would think that this would have evoked feelings of pride and joy among all Vincentians, but no, the official who made the pronouncement was berated in the worst way on social media and accused of all types of unprofessionalism by some of our nationals.
The figures used to make that assessment about our country in no way mean that our public health system is perfect or that the users of the system do not sometimes have negative outcomes or even substandard service and care when they access the system. What the figures do, is allow us to bench mark where we are and put our reality into context, compared with the rest of the eastern Caribbean.
The situation we have described is replayed time and time again, whenever well meaning, independent thinkers compliment St Vincent and the Grenadines or praise us for what we have achieved or are achieving based on very scarce resources.
We are not in any way saying that things are good or even acceptable in all sectors of our nation, but one sometimes gets the impression that perfection is expected at all times and that anything less is unacceptable.
Earlier this week, speaking at a summit held by the Obama Foundation, former president Barack Obama spoke about similar responses that he has been observing, in particular among the younger generation.
The former President derided “call-out culture”, saying achieving real change was more complex than being “as judgmental as possible.”
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff — you should get over that quickly,” Obama told a crowd in Chicago.
He added:”I do get a sense sometimes now among certain young people, and this is accelerated by social media, that the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people and that’s enough.
“The world is messy,” the 44th US president said. “There are ambiguities.”
“That is not activism,” he concluded. “That is not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you are probably not going to get that far.”
The same holds for St Vincent and the Grenadines. Finding every reason to declare that nothing good happens here, will not assist with the forward movement of our country. And as President Obama implied, the people who speak the loudest, tend not to show up when there is work to be done.
Development work is tedious and tends to move slowly. The pace would be faster should we have more hands on deck.
Let’s develop the skill of recognising something praiseworthy and be quick to commend. When things go wrong, let’s commit to be part of the solution.
There is much work to be done, but after 40 years of Independence, we also have much for which to be pleased.