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To be or not to be?

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Excerpt taken from feature address at the St. Vincent Grammar School Graduation Ceremony.

Today, the 4th of July 2006, marks a very important date. On the 4th of July 1776, America with the assistance of the French declared its Independence. Interestingly though, and probably more so for me than you, the 4th of July 2006 marks three days after Brazil was crushed and turned into wine by France, France again proving itself to be better than Brazil by far. Or probably it is just a case where the history of the 1998 World Cup has repeated itself.

On a more serious note however, in your life, today the 4th of July, 2006. What does this mean to you? Today, when I stand here and look at you, I see a victory of knowledge over ignorance, which when carefully calculated amounts to your own independence.{{more}}

If one is to properly describe the importance of today in your life, such a description would be void, if the word “transition’ is absent. My address to you this morning is focused on the management of this transition, because it is only then that we will have a true appreciation of our theme “To Be Or Not To Be”.

Where did you begin?

Five years ago, you would have entered the doors of the Grammar School, all as separate entities, derived from a wide and ranging crosssection of primary schools across St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

However, over the period from Form 1 to Form 5, you would have grown to become a single unit. That is what we see here today as the Graduating class of 2006, a class of distinguished, aspiring and maturing young men. We need show some appreciation for the distance you have come.

I am most certain that you would have proven that the word SUCCESS though pronounced with great ease by many, is painstakingly hard to achieve, yet with the support of your teachers, parents and friends you would have risen despite all the odds acting against you.

The new millennium has unfolded and will continue to unfold new challenges, many of which we will have to grapple with in the not-too-distant future. Yet we must rise.

We must rise not only with a plan to overcome the obstacles, which we can now see, but we must also prepare for the unknown. Though complex, as this may sound, as young men, your education is one of the most secured plans to chart your way through the dark patches that may confront your future. So you must continue a lifelong plan.

Where are you today?

You must pause for a brief moment and turn your searchlight inwards.

It is my humble view that a free nation is based on two tenets, (1) the Supremacy of God and (2) the education of its people. The existence of a skilled and trained manpower is an absolute necessity for the progress and development of any country. It is only through the education of our youths and their acceptance of such knowledge, that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated.

I had a most saddening experience a few days ago.

After careful investigation into a matter, I advised a supervisor as to the changes that were necessary. His response was that “he was doing it so, long before I was born”. Not even giving a scintilla of regard to the fact that he may have just been doing it wrong for the past twenty-five years. It is in this regard that we must at all times be quick and ready to embrace positive change, but we must do so in love and respect.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we cannot boast with any great degree of certainty of having gold, bauxite or oil as natural resources. What do we have? We have people, the likes of whom we see in the graduating class today, young and strong men who comprise the core strength of our human capital. That resource properly managed, and utilized is the key to our well-being as a Vincentian people.

So from you must come new ideas, knowledge, experience, technical skills and the expertise necessary for deep human understanding.

Sad to say, but the majority of young men in our country of which this graduating class falls as a subset, are hardly keeping abreast with the current policies and trends involving matters touching and concerning their nation’s development. Simply put, many of our young men avoid keeping abreast of the news.

I charge you, that it is only if you keep yourself informed can you ever comment intelligently on your nation’s decisions. You must not fail to be critical of yourself. Your contribution, the contribution of the graduating class is, indeed, a prized commodity, since it is only by your comments that errors can be corrected and progress stimulated.

In your push ahead, you must not allow a minority of misguided troublemakers who are yet to understand what it means to cherish life, and the importance of education, to drag you down into the dark pits of backwardness. Yet we must in love, show them the way that leads to light.

Where are we going?

In all your doings you must remain humble, kind hearted, honest and obedient. Until we dissociate ourselves from those who conspire against good, we would have failed the test. There is power in the collective. The historians among us will speak of the collective power used to bring about what we consider today to be emancipation. It is that spirit of La Vallass, which energized Toussaint L’Overture in Haiti, and Nelson Mandela in South Africa and our very own Joseph Chatoyer to fight for freedom. We must tap into such sources of strength.

The greater the challenges, the harder we must work, the greater the challenges, the more we must also read and think. The greater the challenge the more we must remember that we posses the requisite talent, though hidden in some instances, the brain-power, and most of the resources to get the job done. What we need now from you is commitment. We do not need a poverty of ambition.

If I may be permitted to borrow a few lines from a valedictory address I delivered in 1999:

“An exceptional cadre of multi-talented youth is needed, who would be capable to effectively and efficiently plan, structure and govern both their personal lives, and the life of this our blessed nation.”

Seven years later brings me to this morning, and I must admit that I see the required energy in you the Graduating Class of 2006. I see a great day coming for us as youths, but we must be eager for success. The road ahead is long, and you may get wary at times. But you must resolve tiredness with the greater call to be forthright and steadfast in your push ahead. Let your pursuit for excellence be resolute.

It is my daily prayer that the good Lord in Heaven will help me to work harder tomorrow than I am doing today, because I know that the challenges which I will face tomorrow are greater than those of yesterday.

My friends, the graduating class of 2006, my hope for all of you is that as you leave here today, you will decide to keep true these principles which I have selected to share with you to make them a part of your own life.

I take this opportunity to welcome you to this our journey to success. Thank you again for having me address you. May God richly bless you.

Mr. Chairman, To Be Or Not To Be? I thank you.

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