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As I see things – Reflections on politics – Part 2

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It is hard to believe that next month we will be celebrating 36 years of Independence. Pehaps celebration is not the appropriate word, because we should really be ashamed of what is happening with our country and the direction we seem to be taking. Really, it is better to use 1951 as our point of departure. When Adult Suffrage was introduced, there was then a high degree of illiteracy, so much so, that many had to be taught to mark an X so that they could participate in the newly won freedom.{{more}} It was serious business for a people who felt that they had for too long been left out in the political wilderness. That was 64 years ago, but that exercise in democracy has now become a political joke, as we play around with matters like finding clues to the election date, even using the Bible to rationalize such nonsense. What tomfoolery! Is this a joke? When are we going to stop playing games? A classic case indeed of Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns!

There are games all around. Parliament is often turned into a den of shame and disgrace. The Speaker, who is supposed to keep order and ensure its smooth operation, is, by convention, politically impartial, but in the games we play, there is no room for impartiality. We have, to a large extent, bought into this political gamesmanship and seem not to mind or perhaps not to see that we are heading into a disaster zone. We are easily fooled and generally misinformed. I often wonder if our actors do not realize that there is life beyond politics, a life when power is no longer the operative word, when they have to meet the same persons they have squeezed and talked evil about. Would our actors be able to look into the mirror and feel proud of who they are and what they have done? Most of them then become, once again, ordinary human beings.

Instead of approaching the electorate with programmes or allowing their record to speak for itself, they have elevated bribery as a dominant factor and some of us have bought into it, expecting to get as much as we possibly can. How do people who have undergone prolonged in-between election periods of hardship and deprivation feel satisfied in accepting a bribe in return for their vote, knowing that the chances are that they will have to live through such a period again? Oh, the audacity of those who instead of engaging us insult us through the offer of bribes and sweet talk! What should have been our brief period of empowerment is transformed into a period of begging, as we hope that all will be well with our souls.

Our politics is nasty and disgusting. Can we not support a political party without swallowing everything they do and say without even a murmur? Why must we see our political leaders as demigods, some of them even expecting us to worship them, for it amounts to that? Some of us seem to expect our leaders to be elevated and to occasionally come down from their heights to give us a five-year hug and to kiss our babies. What they say is treated in some quarters as the gospel truth, with resentment of anything to the contrary. Our media sits and waits for words of wisdom to come out of their mouths, gobble them up and relay them without critical examination to those waiting to hear from their tin-gods and to imagine that their lord has spoken. Some of this might seem far-fetched, but if we reflect on it honestly, we will recognize the depths to which we have sunk.

Ours is a real mess and we are all guilty of allowing things to degenerate in the way they have. Our politics and governance are not about a team approach, but about an individual clothed with an almost superhuman touch that will solve all of our problems some time down the road. We wait on this in the way we wait on our Saviour. It can happen at any time, only we will not know when! Really like ‘Waiting for Godot’! When are we going to grow up? When are we going to wake up and call a spade a spade and realize that the key to our future and our country’s development lies in our hands? What factors do we take into account when we are embarked on the process of providing people with the authority to act on our behalf and to create the climate that will allow all of us to participate in our own development? Government has become all-embracing and other sectors of our society pale into insignificance, waiting to be part of that developmental process, sometimes dying in the process. Our participation depends on how we behave! On our willingness to kiss asses!

As we await the call to go to the polls, we have to admit if we are honest to do so, that we live in a country faced with huge challenges— increases in crime, robbery, unemployment, corruption, inadequate health services, an education system that needs refining to inform the thrust toward our development, domestic violence, a tourism product that needs to be recreated and an agricultural product that calls for help. Have we reached a stage of maturity where we can look and see which teams are best equipped to meet these challenges and to create a climate that will allow all of us to be part of a process of building a new SVG, one worthy of a people that have for 36 years taken charge of their affairs? Or is it that we are only capable of jungle survival where the fittest survive by government hand-outs and where Tarzan has been reinvented?

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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