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SVG Christian Council’s reality check

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I have been a frequent critic of the Christian Council and the Churches generally, so when I see them pointing in a direction I think they should be moving, I have to applaud them. For me one of the Church’s major functions should be that which allows it to serve as the conscience of the nation, something that is sadly missing. What the Council has done this year with its Independence message is to provide us with a reality check. I hope most of us who inhabit this 150 sq miles state, and our brothers and sisters abroad, would have read it.{{more}}

Last year I asked the question ‘what are we celebrating at Independence?’ The Christian Council’s message answers this. For me, our Independence, anniversary has become for some, a fashion ‘show off,’ as we try to outdo one another with attire embracing the national colours. Some of us figure that we have to celebrate our Independence, but do so without thinking of what we are really celebrating. I am not suggesting that we do not celebrate Independence. It was an important milestone. But where has it taken us? Are we proud of the state of our society today? Are we doing an honest assessment?

This is where I find significance in the Council’s message. It is a critique of what we have become, of the state of our society today. All of us should be ashamed by this reality check. Our social and physical environment has been put under the microscope. The Council’s message was entitled ‘Vincy Pride’. ‘Vincy Pride’ we are told, used to be a set of core values that represented the heart of our civilisation. It involved, ‘honour, respect, integrity, truth, loyalty,’ which were watchwords by which our forefathers lived. ‘Vincy Pride’ is in low stock today. It is replaced by ‘hubris, arrogance, selfishness and satisfying basic instincts’. None escapes the Council’s probe, not Parliament, not the Christian Churches, not our schools, not our families. It is really all of us. Hate talk comes out of our veins, really as the message says, from captain to cook, ‘parliament to radio talk-host and commentator, pastor to social analyst.’

There are those who are ready to accuse you of being unpatriotic if you do not get caught up in the whirlwind of hypocrisy and pretence. It was Peter Hitchens who said ‘it seems quite obvious to me that the more you love your country, the more critical you must be of it when it has gone wrong.’ Plain talk and telling it like it is become akin to treason, because it is believed that no matter what, we should continue to live what becomes a make-believe life.

We find, too, an exposure of what some of us pretend do not exist, political patronage, political tribalism, false pride, arrogance, a distortion of what it means to govern, an abandonment of good governance where people should be seen as citizens and not as party members or voters. There is an exposure of what ‘Heritage

Square’ has become. ‘We call it culture!’ ‘It is not! It is the inflammation of desire gone mad, undermining the very foundation of our noble Caribbean civilisation’.

What I find is a scathing attack on a society that has lost its way, lost its vision and its pride. This is particularly alarming, since ‘Vincy Pride’ had ‘run in the veins of our forefathers from the earliest times,’ a people for whom ‘Capitulation was not an option’. We have the resources to make a difference. We have people who have distinguished themselves in virtually every field and names of some of these outstanding Vincentians have been mentioned. ‘Our streets, our parks and our roadways are littered; many of our public buildings are in disrepair; our rivers are polluted; our mountains are raped by slash and burn agriculture, unemployment and poverty are rising; the drug trade is escalating; incest and sexual exploitation remain hidden secrets thus punishing the victim even more.’ All of this a reality check that if we don’t want to be hypocrites must admit represents the state of our society today as we ‘proudly’ celebrate 25 years of Independence.

As we reflect on these, the Council asks ‘What will our legacy be? What have we committed to? What are we leaving as a legacy to our children and grandchildren? It is left up to us to decide ‘what type of nation we want to become’. I find a lot of hope in the Christian Council’s message, but it depends on us. It is in a sense calling on us to reflect on the state of our society today, 35 years ‘since we ran our new flag up the flagpole replacing the Union Jack’.

What is done here is something that is needed at every anniversary of Independence, a reality check, a soul searching, a reflection on where we in this small nation are. To beat our chests and pretend that hadn’t it been for the global economic crisis everything would be good is to live in fools’ paradise. The more we are threatened by outside forces, is the more we have to ensure that our house is in order, that we marshal our resources and that we act as one people.

Someone once said that as society evolves and the environment changes, ‘the Gospel has to be continually forwarded to a new address’. Let us hope that this is what the Christian Council is about. I must, as I end, draw attention to the message from the Patriarch of the Spiritual Archdiocese of SVG, under the caption ‘All Men are created Equal’. It is telling it like it is.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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