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When all politics is personal

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DR. RICHARD A. B. COX 4.MAY.07

I AM DETERMINED to stay away from politics both in word and deed. I simply can’t stomach the hogwash and tripe, laced with vindictive hatred that is the political staple today. In politics I differ but don’t hate, challenge but with due respect, reprimand but don’t condemn, and expose empty propaganda but leave the messenger untouched. Being a student of Socratic dialectics, I disagree politically only in the quest for truth, justice and the best for all. Put another way, in the interest of getting it right if I think it is wrong.{{more}} Like Socrates, politics I believe, should be the art of achieving the greatest good for society, not an excuse for base animalistic behaviour, as some misunderstand Aristotle to mean. And, in our politics this misunderstanding is quite often extreme with some becoming wild animals, mere vile brutes. So for me it’s simple; “Yo’ can’t stand de heat, keep out de kitchen.” But conscience harassed me, demanding a break in my self-imposed silence. So “Ah put on me guns again,” if only for this piece.

I am afraid that some hitherto good men, not only continue to labour in our de facto political slaughterhouse, but now glory in sipping and bathing in the blood and chewing the intestines of hided opponents. A case in point is our Prime Minister’s recent accident. According to the Opposition Leader, some virtually prayed for his death. This is mawkish! The thinking of diseased minds! But guess what? It is the ultimate manifestation that now our “politics is all personal.” The contention is not about ideas, philosophies, policies, parties and their programmes. No, not anymore, it’s about demonising and destroying individuals. So our PM is denied sympathy even in a moment of great misfortune. This is deeply tragic. For my part, I wish our Prime Minister a most speedy and complete recovery.

I grew up in the 70s and was told that before the birth of the DFM, YOULIMO, ARWEE and later UPM, our politic system was clogged with gutter muck. Now we have evolved with full-fledged Dr. politics, doctors right, left and centre. Alas, instead of elevating our politics to a dignified practice, all Dr. politics has accomplished is entrenchment of this warped and potentially murderous ideology that “all politics is personal.” Now anyone who refuses to join my choir is an enemy to be relentlessly pursued and made mute by any means necessary.

How ironic that with doctors all around this disease of all politics being personal is now full-blown, malignant and endemic. Many ordinarily good men souls have been corrupted by it. According to the ULP column of 20/04/07 my friend and brother Junior Bacchus, says that the PM’s injuries/accident were “retribution”. If this is true, Junior must withdraw that statement and apologise unconditionally to the PM. To those of us who love and trust Junnie, a good and well meaning man, and to those for whom he is an example, he also needs to apologise.

Of course Junior can argue that he is not the mastermind of “all politics is personal,” and has himself been quartered in the slaughterhouse, his blood screaming for vengeance. After all, when you determine that a man’s family should starve to death because he is a political opponent, how much more personal can you get than that? But Junnie my friend, being good goes way beyond being just; it calls for kindness, sympathy, forgiveness and empathic compassion. One is good if bearing undeserved suffering he finds redemption in forgiving a vulnerable culprit. Goodness is that virtue which cleanses the soul from the desire to profit from someone’s misfortune, especially a weakened enemy. I believe the fundamental reason why God made man with superior intellect, is because He didn’t want us to follow base instincts, but to have the ability to reason while on this sometimes treacherous road of life and choose to “Walk good,” as the late Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett used to say.

In his day Socrates questioned everything (his dialectics qua supra), not primarily because he opposed it. But as he said, he knew nothing and wanted to learn. More importantly, he sought after what is just, right, good and best for all. This search led to the idea of the Utopian state in Plato’s Republic. This same search must be the basis, only reason and objective in the political dialectics of SVG, but this in my experience was never the case. I remember while an employee at Foreign Affairs, this newspaper mistakenly published that a judgement had been given against the government. The Minister was livid! He was unshakably convinced, that this was a deliberate effort by the editor to discredit the government. He called me in, “Look what your most loved editor did! Look! Look!” I had previously defended the editor on another issue (it mattered not that I wasn’t entertained by Searchlight), because she was right. Here again I did the same. I knew she was too responsible to deliberately commit such an act. But the minister convinced of his monopoly on truth, remained like the Northern Star. Consequently, he did not speak to me for a month. I suppose if he could, he would have fired me. Get the dissenter has always been there, now it’s entrenched.

We simply must not continue this way. When “all politics is personal” we are in continuous cycle of destruction one by the other. Sure “it’s Labour now,” but ask yourself what would it be when its “NDP later”. When “all politics is personal,” power is a brainless one-eyed giant; possibly considerate to those who lay prostrate fearing it brute force, but utterly destructive to those who dare suggest that it turns and surveys the entire landscape, for due to impaired vision, it misses the very essence of democracy, freedom to choose.

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