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Reflection after the first 100 days

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008, marked two significant dates in my life. Firstly, it was 100 days since I was sworn in as a Senator in the Parliament of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and also received the duties and responsibilities as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Informal Settlement, Physical Planning, Lands and Surveys and Local Government. Secondly, it was a first occasion as a member of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines delegation at a Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community.{{more}}

My resoluteness as a youth and conviction to commit and dedicate time and service to country has been significantly renewed over the past 100 days. For all my life, I have built upon the trust that once one is willing to fearlessly endear for the good of one’s people with steadfastness, unbridled enthusiasm and the most needed divine guidance from the Almighty God, no challenge will ever be too difficult for us to overcome. It is a matter of faith. My strength, trust and zeal to march along a challenging path to succeed will only become more focussed since my entry into the realm of executing national duties and responsibilities at the highest levels. Humility is always the watchword and objectivity is central.

At the age of 27, my experiences during the first 100 days have left me with the definition that life simply is essentially the sum total of our human interactions. Life is, therefore, not as complicated as many will make it out to be. So we play, we walk the streets, we read, we work, we spend, we save, we watch cricket and do so many more within a particular system.

Further, it has become much clearer that it is human interaction which defines the individual, hence, if one is to sow seeds, take care of the plants which germinate and await their fruit to the stage of harvest he is a farmer. Similarly, if one dedicates his or her time to earning a living by giving instructions in a class room he or she is a formal teacher. Also, so it is with one if he preaches in a church, he is a minister of the gospel. If he is less than noble and he steals he is a thief, and it continues for all professions in life.

Without doubt, individuals collectively constitute the society, and through their interactions create its very evolution. Therefore, should the question be asked as to who we are? One may chose a rather poetic though simplified description that, ‘we are just what we are’, but we are really more than what we are. We are really what we can be. That’s who we really are. For what we can be is a dream realised through an empowerment of the self, ‘who we are’, is simply what we have already achieved, hence there is no need to aspire.

On the threshold of our national emancipation celebrations there is justification in the proposition that we should really concentrate on what we ought to become. The case is clear, had our foreparents become contented with their station in life, then we could not have been who we are today. We are freed men and women living in a free society, where we are allowed to make choices, as opposed to being coerced into trends of a particular colonial nature, geared at psychological impoverishment and brain washing. It is in the same light, that if we are to accept that we are what we are, that we will lack the visionary foresight to create the changes which will make our nation and the world a better place.

A government which expends exorbitant sums to encourage its people to think critically is one that understands the importance of having a knowledgeable citizenry to effect the positive changes needed to facilitate sustainable development. Nothing less will suffice.

For far too long, too many among us have seen emancipation only within the context of history, and not within the framework of creating a future of freedom. The resultant implication of this most desecrating act is that we look to the past to pin-point emancipation somewhere between 1834 and 1838. Not only that we may not be able to truly find it there, but we fail to appreciate that what amounts to emancipation within the present tense is constantly redefined by the surmounting challenges we constantly face. On reflection, therefore, freedom is not absolute, but it is relative to one’s ability to make correct and positive adjustments in life, which consequently results in an empowerment of the self.

In some instances, many of our predecessor political actors and actresses may be blamed for having confined development to independence of the state, infrastructural concretisation of edifices and personal or self aggrandisement.

Clearly, within justified parameters, the education revolution which our country is currently adventuring is the greatest single effort to empower Vincentians. Education is intrinsically linked to freedom, as ignorance is to stubbornness against positive change. When a man is truly educated as opposed to only certified, he becomes aware of his environment and is equipped to make the requisite changes and adjustments to reposition himself or herself to succeed even in the toughest of times. Hence, it is important that we all keep learning daily as we interact. It is this necessity which encouraged me to begin a “Dear Student Programme” which entails regular visits to the Grade 6 students of over five (5) primary schools to give motivational lectures as they prepare to take their common entrance exams. We are all duty bound to prepare the next generation of Vincentian citizens to move forward.

There is a dire need for capacity building among our farmers, if they are to adequately address the tasks which will lead to sustainable agricultural development. The last 100 days has given me the opportunity to plan a series of programmes, linking strategic methodologies from the Ministry of Agriculture, and taking the extra time to deliver it to the door steps of our farmers. The call is urgent!

The need to prevent our communities from deteriorating into ghettos is everyone’s responsibility. Hence, within the framework of a broad based “Districts Empowerment Programme”, implementation dates have already been assigned for special counselling to be given to teenage mothers in need of support, and to young persons trapped by drug abuse.

We must constantly refuse to deceive ourselves. We must avoid the creation of notions within our minds that we cannot conquer our challenges. For if we fail to believe that we can overcome, we also do not accept that we were not always free. Next week’s article, “Our Youth as vessels of honour”, will seek to discuss how our youth can realise a chance to change the world.

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.

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