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Will the spark flame?


Dr. Richard A. Byron-Cox 06.JUNE.08

I’ve had a few apostasies in life, but my patriotism remains like Ole Faithful. Vincentian is the identity I carry in my search for an ever-elusive self-realisation in this wilderness of “first world” prosperity. This is the star by which I sail since my Moscow days. Yes, Russia was an experience that shook my very fundament, driving home the profound significance of Becket’s “St. Vincent, I thank you.”{{more}}

This does not say that I am not quite often very disgusted with much of what takes place in this land. Nor does it speak of my abhorrence of the ignorance, poverty and other social ills defacing parts of SVG’s landscape. Today, seeing a staggering murder rate and poisonous political division destroying the very soul of this nation, my concerns for SVG are most grave. I have written about these before, but I am forced to revisit them, for if we continue this way, we will leave SVG a damnosa hereditas to future generations. This must be avoided at all cost.

As regards crime, murderers now seem to act at will. From high profile public personas the likes of the late Glen Jackson, to beautiful saintly souls like Mrs. Lorna Small have been simply wiped out as specks from a blackboard, returned to dust as mere insignificant disposables. Murder is now bare and boldfaced. This is horror. The perpetrators have proven that they can without warning strike any part of the land at any moment, claiming the lives of the defenceless innocent. And the Minister of National Security, for all his undoubted intellectual gifts, seems unable to get a handle on this wanton destruction of Vincentian lives. The Commissioner, made persona praedilecta in a non-existing empire, is equally clueless as regards remedies. And the Opposition, convinced that continuous shouts of “Fire! Fire!” are enough to get them the throne, really cares little that a silent but deeply troubled John Public dies a thousand deaths wondering when his number will call. I have written elsewhere that crime is our common challenge but it’s primarily the government’s responsibility to ensure the safety of citizens. I have not recanted that position.

Added to this serious crime situation, the country has in the ULP and NDP fiercely opposing tribes. The Monday to Friday daily talk shows of stations like NICE radio and WE FM give the impression that orchestration and fuelling of this vicious political divide is their raison d’être. The morbid burbles of some callers – spurred on many a time by some hosts – is so venomous that the programmes are often reduced to being channels for the bitter outpourings of vindictive and vengeful psyches, products of this political tribalism. Here hate for your political opponent is the stock in trade, so emotions take the place of reason, dogma is dressed up as truth, objectivity is out of place, and worst of all, the nation is secondary, the party is the jewel. On these occasions, national brotherhood is senseless sacrificed on the altar of blind political partisanship. Yes, we are consciously creating a culture of hate. God, help us!

In response, some people; i.e. Jomo Thomas, yours truly, inter alia, have determined that we cannot continue this way. We must change for better. This has led to the idea of a People’s Movement For Change. Now, an evolution has begun. Will it mushroom into the needed revolution? Only time will tell. I hasten to add that I am a change agent but not a politician, and have no intentions of being one. Neither will I join a political party. Yes, I can hear you accusing me of being only interested in shooting scholastic cannons while steadfastly refusing to roll up my sleeves and join the rough and tumble. So where do I stand? On the side of SVG with a sincere wish to help stop the political tribalism, crime and a whole host of other ignoble actions taking place in this land. My aim is by sharing ideas, inter alia, assist in building a nation of which we can be justly proud. So these essays will continue but not as a means to pave for me an asphalt path into Parliament. Dr. Earl Kirby, Tanny Peters, Sister Pat et al were never “honourable members,” yet nation builders.

In this change process, some of us must of necessity be politicians, but this is only one lever in the mechanism to effect the required transformation. The question we must all ask ourselves is: What is my role in our moral renaissance? Once that is answered we must act. For let’s face it, while Ralph and Arhnim are the warlords, we are all in this together. It affects us all, matters not whether we are active combatants, interest-driven allies or mere civilian causalities. We, therefore, must resolve each and everyone to be an instrument of positive change. No, we cannot simply do like Ralph, pound our breasts and thunder, “I am the change!” while murders remain commonplace and reckless political tribalism threatens to destroy the nobility of this nation. Nor should we join Arhnim & Co in the “Fire! Fire!” choir as that is useless scare-mongering propaganda, void of real solutions. We must change or self-destruct! The People’s Movement For Change is a spark, which only we the people can turn into an eternal flame. Sitting on the fence is not an option.