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Faith and love amidst challenges

Faith and love amidst challenges


Fri, Oct 21. 2011


Thirty-two years ago, on October 27, 1979, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became an independent nation. British colonialism, which had first acquired suzerainty over our nation in 1763, ruled us through the savagery of genocide against the Garifuna, through the abomination of enslavement of Africans, through the trauma of indentureship of Portuguese and Indian migrants, through imperialism and cultural denudation, and amidst the popular struggles of our people over decades of gradual constitutional decolonisation culminating in the light and promise of independence.{{more}}

Our nation’s Founding Father, Robert Milton Cato, remains a beacon of hope for a better future. Long before him, in the late-eighteenth century, Joseph Chatoyer, our first and only National Hero, thus far, taught us, and continue to teach us, the glory and majesty of heroism, solidarity, and the ultimate sacrifice in the interest of our people. Titans who are no longer with us such as George Augustus Mc Intosh and Ebenezer Theodore Joshua are etched in our memory as exemplars of commitment to, and love for, our people. Sir James Mitchell and Sir Vincent Beache, both of whom are thankfully still with us, have assisted us in fashioning a more modern and enterprising nation-state.

Despite the human imperfections and limitations of our heroic icon Chatoyer, and other outstanding political trailblazers, we revere them, thank them, and elevate them in our historiography. In each family, too, across this blessed nation, there are forbears whom we treasure for their outstanding contributions as matriarchs and patriarchs, public servants, teachers, nurses, public officers, farmers, fisherfolk, business persons, professionals, devout Christians, and community leaders. These loved ones, in every walk of life, have laid the solid foundations on which we stand, and from which we benefit immensely.

The 32nd anniversary of independence of St. Vincent and the Grenadines meets our nation in challenging economic times. Since September 2008, and continuing, the global economy has been put in an alarming recessionary tail-spin from which it is yet to recover. This reality has impacted adversely on our Caribbean, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in many ways. Regionally, the unraveling of the insurance giants British-American Insurance Company and CLICO has threatened the stability of the financial system and impoverished thousands of policy-holders. National disasters have ravaged our region: In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, since last year’s independence anniversary, Hurricane Tomas struck us with awesome power and the April 2011 “freak storm” wreaked havoc to the north-eastern side of St. Vincent.

Additionally, we have caused self-inflicted problems for ourselves through criminal activities, including excessive domestic violence, of some, and through the laziness, ill discipline, and unacceptable negligence of others.

As a consequence of all this constellation of adverse forces, our economy and socio-political institutions have been placed under immense strain. Still, amidst all the most profound challenges, our people as a whole, their religious and community leaders and their government have shown remarkable resilience, tenacity, and creativity in holding things together and advancing progressively on several fronts. Our efforts have been most commendable, particularly since around us in several Caribbean countries and richer neighbours things are falling apart and their centres cannot hold.

Our national anthem affirms that whatever the future brings, our faith will see us through. This affirmation finds a comforting and redemptive resonance in the Biblical injunction: “We live by faith, not by sight” [2 Corinthians, Chapter 5, Verse 7]. This faith is buttressed by love. In 1 Thessalonians [Chapter 5, Verses 5-6, 8] we are assured and admonished:

“We do not belong to the night or darkness. So then let us be not like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled…..

“But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as helmet.”

These are powerful ideas for life and living: Faith, Love, Alertness, Self-Control, and the Hope of Salvation. In embracing these ideas and beliefs, no one can do it alone. The advice of Paul the Evangelist and Servant of God is compelling: “We must encourage one another and build each other up”. Each of us must work harder and smarter in solidarity with each other.

These are precepts which have caused us to make much progress over the past year since our last independence anniversary in several areas, including: the economy; the protection and further upliftment of the poor; physical infrastructure (including the international airport); education and one-laptop-per-student; health, including the CT Scan and the Medical Complex; telecommunications; foreign direct investment, particularly in tourism; the battle against the major drug traffickers and money launderers; regional integration, including the establishment of the OECS Economic Union; and foreign policy.

Over the last year, too, we have experienced much joy in the signal achievements of the Girls’ High School’s 100th anniversary and St. Martin’s Secondary School’s 50th anniversary, and the individual and collective achievements of Vincentians, at home and abroad, in divers fields, including sports, culture, academics, production, business, and religion.

At Independence 2011, our nation remains a land of freedom, peace, democracy, good sense, and good governance. Let it so remain. The Unity Labour Party’s third successive victory in free and fair elections in December 2011 reaffirms our nation’s commitment to representative government and democracy.

At Independence 2011, let us have strong faith in God, love of one another and our blessed nation! We are on the right track!