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Long-sighted people

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In 1968, Woodville Marshall, noted for his studies of post slavery evolution in the region, gave this summary: To that first generation of adults in freedom, it was painfully obvious that emancipation was unfinished business… because…many of them had been returned to…a standard of living not far removed from the slavery that many of them had known.”{{more}}

(Woodville Marshall. ‘We be wise to many more tings’ Social and Economic Studies Vol 17.)

In hindsight, after things have happened to us, we become wiser than we had been before.

When we are looking for, or crafting change, or putting our lives on the line for revolutionary emancipations, it is a must, an imperative that we keep a clear and definite picture in focus of the change we are pressing towards. If the change is a short-term one and just a reaction to the negative conditions that face us, we may actually get the change that is only a change in form, an ‘unfinished business’. That shallow kind of social movement has taken place so often that some cynical people tell us: ‘the more you see things change, the more they stay the same’.

We see today the results of unfinished business in the toxic politics in Egypt, the competing terrors in Syria and, less dramatically, the Emancipation stalemates in the Caribbean. Such stressful burdens on people, on society and on history are a warning to social change agents and citizens that they have a duty to de-stress the programmes and outcomes of their movements as much as they can. Producing change is the work of ‘long-sighted people’ with focussed vision, defined mission and a strategic soul-deep hunger for justice and brilliant life for all.

All of us have to struggle to attain this moral and historical long-sightedness. It does not belong to any class of people. This long-sighted social intelligence may even be a gift of the Spirit, even a capacity that Jesus Christ of Nazareth may have struggled to apply in a garden in Gethsemane. I would guess that if we examined ourselves on the question of the changes we would like to see in our community’s spirituality, politics, economy, youth, and entertainment/creativity,— taking any one of these areas that we are familiar with,— our responses are not likely to be long-sighted, or to display focussed vision. It could be a very useful exercise to do.

Seeing that our politics is a theme of interest to many of us at this time, shall we look at the quality of political change that we would like to see and enjoy in the near future? Let me attempt to frame some questions to check our political long-sightedness.

o How does change, or retention of a party in office move population groups that are weak politically, e.g. youth, farmers, unemployed women, — from a position of being manipulated victims?

o What defined political changes do we have in mind to enhance life opportunities for all?

o In what areas of international trade do we calculate that changes in our politics could give us greater influence?

o What new political goals and strategies can we propose to advance our unfinished emancipation business?

o Can we concretely outline the socio-political benefits of Caribbean unity?

When I measured my answers to the questions above against the standard of a “clear and definite picture of the change we are pressing towards”, I am some way off from long-sightedness. What about you? Did your answers give clear and definite political changes and outcomes that are in your mind?

So, perhaps many of us who talk political change have short-term and reaction-driven change in mind. That might also be the situation in other branches of change talk. Emancipation must begin with us! In this vein, let us engage in some elementary vision exercises:

Let us put our minds to envision the following:

o A clear picture of our people united;

o A picture of our youth inspired to build the nation;

o A picture of our leaderships as humble servants of the nation;

o A moving picture of our region united in production, interaction and world influence.

In the school of long-sightedness, let us enroll today.

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