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SVG will be changed forever

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28.MAR.08

Editor: It is not often that a people face a great crisis in their history. When they do, a rare opportunity arises, an opportunity to grow, or in failing to take the opportunity, a descent into stagnation.{{more}}

I have been intensely involved in a project in which a group of us has been trying to develop some ideas about how change occurs. The situation facing SVG bears a striking relation to the types of crises that tend to shift paradigms of thought and action.

The situation in SVG is set in fractious political machinery that can’t find a way to bring our small population to a consensus of a single shared destiny. Our political practice is seriously deformed; it can’t create progress in any meaningful way, and it has evolved some dangerous qualities that threaten to break up the family systems that have actually gotten us through most of the pains of enslavement, indenture, and underdevelopment. At the very point that we ought to be consciously finding practices that will help us to hold our own in an increasingly competitive and unsupportive world, we are engaged in an issue that marks us in its fundamental truth as a people functioning at a quite primitive level. We are not doing as well as we could be doing, but we must all do our best.

It is the responsibility of each generation to pass on legacy of worth. How we handle this challenge does matter. It is our generation’s opportunity to define itself. It is a time to ask questions about what is valuable in our lives. Fundamentally, it is about self-respect.

Consider! We are trapped in what we believe most passionately. In the current situation, the prime minister is accused of rape and indecent assault by a woman police officer. The Vincentian community has become split into mutually opposed versions of belief. On one hand, the complainant’s case is constructed as the destructive rage of a seriously disturbed woman against the Prime minister. On the other hand, the prime minister’s denial is a deceitful tale of an out of control, immature, and deeply hurt and hurtfully abusive man. In this context, a people cannot think their best thoughts, or be their best selves.

What we believe in this context limits the quality of our interaction, and embeds us in a process that only reinforces the prejudices that underlie our color-coded political identities. Yet, the situation calls for individuals to rise above these limitations. The truth needs to be told. It is a truth that is not simply limited to the question of who did what. It reflects the core assumptions we have about moral and character development.

The need for truth at this point is nothing less than the opportunity for the nation to define itself. Are we ready to declare ourselves citizens of an ethical nation? Are our citizens and leaders ready to exemplify behavior truly characteristic of a people of a “noble civilization”? Has our journey through generations of struggle for human dignity failed us? Has our nation been able to produce individuals who possess the courage to voluntarily acknowledge a mistake, and to seek atonement? Do we have in ourselves persons able to model the best that we can be?

We say that we should extend sympathy to both parties in the conflict, but how can we do this while trapped in a perverted version of reality? The truth must speak to all of us in all of its complexity. The underlying issues are fundamentally lodged in the system of values that we have accepted. Only adherence to the truth can permit us to examine that system of values productively.

We must face the truth, because it reflects how far we have traveled away from our foundations. There is much that we can discover by taking this risk of self-discovery. How we get beyond the current crisis is very much within our control. Indeed, how we do so will define us for some time.

Certainly, SVG will be changed by this matter. We will either accelerate the politics of disunity that further isolates us from each other, or we will be jolted into the realization that the price we’ve already paid is painful enough to suggest a saner path.

While a matter of such significance should be heard before the court, I would wish that our people could create a spirit of such compassion, nurturance, and support that it could allow both individuals to express their truth in a tolerant atmosphere that refuses to judge, but seeks to learn. I believe that it requires such a spirit to understand how to redirect ourselves. I believe that this situation can help us shape a society that cares more for itself. For the individual at its core, the crisis is without doubt a manifestation of a deep – seated, enduring personal dilemma that will not yield until it is faced. Its explosive form is instructive for us all.

Bertram A John

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