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Let us celebrate and cerebrate on Nation Day

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From time to time a concerned citizen will speak to us about the one-sided way that we celebrate our Independence anniversaries. As if a “military” parade shows how strong and how ready we are to fight off any invading forces and preserve our independence! In fact, the military show is really a show, not of force, but of fancy, a uniformed carnival celebration in which the community shared a morning of fun and an emotional solidarity. Nation Day is certainly a good time for us to celebrate our oneness, a symbolic common bond, a Vincy moment.{{more}}

But celebration, that emotional sharing of achievement, should be combined with cerebration, a cerebral sharing, when the Vincy Imagination goes to work and opens a conversation among us on the state of play and development in our society.

Just like celebration, cerebration pulls all of us together, around the vincy dream. However, a bad dream is haunting me. In that dream, SVG appears as a community of infants on one part, and on the other hand, as a strangled and privatized state. It is a troubling dream.

COMMUNITY OF INFANTS

I want to doubt the dream that pictures us as infants, with scarce a sense of responsibility. My mind connects to the picture of Malala, the Pakistani girl who stood up for an education for girls, when other powerful groups were against it. A young girl who assumed an adult responsibility: I said to the dream “we have many Malalas in SVG; we are not infant citizens, we are mature”. But you know, I am not so sure about that. I started to count the Malalas that I know in SVG and I did not get very far. What about you, how many can you add to my list of Vincentians who take responsibility to build our nation and challenge the forces that pull us down?

Let me just tell you a bit more about what I see when my dream presents SVG as a community of infants. In the dream, we are most of us adults, but we are private adults. Like infants, what we laugh about, complain about and boast about are things that gratify us personally. Like infants, we have no commitment to the society, only to ourselves. As long as the bullets don’t fly into the brain of my sister or son or husband, my nation concern closes off after attending the funeral … until the next atrocity. Or take the manner and behaviour that our adults used to live by, but which are now in the garbage, without any obvious replacements or reflection on what was the weakness inherent in our earlier “manners and behaviours”. Infants don’t take time to generate and share moral values within the community. That is what troubles me about my dream. It is so convincing. As we celebrate our Nation Day this year, 2012, let us probe under the surface and imagine the future of this nation. Celebration is not enough. We need to cerebrate also.

Perhaps those who work in day care Services or a pediatric ward can advise me on this. Can infants together become a community? Or they have a common purpose that they set out to achieve? What do you think? My own thoughts are wrestling with a related question. It is this: In our SVG community, which thing, what institutions do all of us cherish as our own, so that we stand up for it and give it our best when it calls on us? Can we name and claim one Vincentian “property” that we gather around and that pulls us together, for which we would make sacrifices, no matter what class, colour, faith or geography we belong to? Do we cherish as a community our gifted and endangered young people, our agriculture, our whales, the virtue of our women, our respect for one another, our airport project or our unrecognized working people? As we take time to think, celebrate and imagine ourselves into this question as to what is in the heart of the proud Vincentian vision, we are celebrating our nation. Yes, celebration is a must, as we take hold of our nation and admire it and celebrate ourselves. It may be offensive or shaming to us if it seems that we have an empty space where the heart of the Vincentian community should be; but if the truth seems to offend our dignity, such a truth can set us free. Our “community of infants” weaned from ignorance and emptiness may wish to take responsibility to open a path to the heart of our community and nation. Along that path, what treasure, what imagining power we may uncover!

That bad dream I have about us being a community of infants under a strangled and personalized state, is a dream to wake up any people to a watchful and cerebral living. Is there a connection between the two images in the dream? Can we give attention to one part fruitfully without imagining what the other picture is saying to us? Are the infants in us, the offspring of the strangulated state? Let us turn next to what the empty heart of our independent nation has to do with the choking grip of state power.

Let us celebrate on Nation Day cerebrally.

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