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The people have spoken

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Surely it is too early to do any proper analysis of the election results, especially when there are some seats in contention. But there is something strange about these elections. In every seat won by the NDP, they did so with a reduced majority.

If the figures we have seen are correct, it means that a majority of Vincentians are satisfied with the way things are and have sanctioned the direction in which the country is moving. It appears to me that the Opposition operated under certain assumptions.{{more}} First, that there was widespread need, even call, for a change of direction. Second, that people would have been dissatisfied with the ills in the society that have become rampant. It means really that unemployment, crime, inadequate health services, the state of the roads, the glorifying of immorality, mean little to them. In any sane society, even if the Government was returned, one would have expected that the margin of victory would have been much reduced.

We seem to exist in a society that many of us do not understand. We assume that these are difficult times, but maybe for many of us they are not, or perhaps there is the view that we can do nothing about it and just have to await dispensation from above, administered by someone selected to do the Father’s bidding. Maybe the increase in numbers seeking poor relief is a demonstration of a caring government and that it becomes a substitute for employment. On a daily basis we come across people begging. We meet vendors that have difficulty selling their goods. All these things apparently don’t matter. The question is what matters? Do we ever hold our leaders accountable for anything, or is it that anything goes?

If there was indeed a swing to the side of the ruling party as the numbers seem to be indicating, what were the reasons behind that swing? Did the gigantic and widespread distribution of lumber, galvanize, cement and toilets make the difference. Maybe not! Maybe we see this as a natural path that any government should undertake. What do we see as problems in our society? It is obvious that we are not on the same wavelength with this. But the major issue is how do we go forward? We have voted. That is a done thing. Regardless of how this is eventually sorted out, it will appear that the divisions in the country will continue, perhaps even worsen. Not a good thing at all! How do we avoid that? Is it possible to bring together those wanting change and those who are satisfied with things as they are? The problem is that they are operating from different premises and are guided by different assumptions and a different sense of reality. A country cannot move forward in this manner. And this is what we should all be seeking, a progressive and forward looking move!

There are many who lost their credibility over the past months. Even the Church will feel the fallout, as some people withdraw unto themselves, and feel that if people are comfortable, let them glory in their comfort. I guess there is no need for anyone to speak up. Speak up about what? We, as a people, have to ask ourselves serious questions. We sing from different song sheets, so to speak. When we sing about problems, maybe they only exist in our minds. What is the reality on the ground? It is difficult to say, because we are a special people who function in our own unique way. My favourite African proverb says this: “If the rhythm of the drum beat changes, steps must adjust.” But perhaps we don’t understand and appreciate the rhythm and therefore make the wrong steps.

It is really vital that we do a thorough analysis of the elections, not only to understand what took place, but to begin to appreciate who we really are and to remove what illusions inform our actions. In our democracy, so-called, elections are hurdles that we cross in order to move forward. How we functioned during the elections is an important part of who we are. In some cases it brought out the worst in us. Friendships have been abandoned, insults thrown and we became a different people. Maybe that reveals the real we, as elections remove our masks. But this election was like no other and our masks have perhaps been permanently removed.

Promises have been made, many, and we anxiously await their delivery. Even with our masks removed, one thing we can hardly dispute is that difficult times lie ahead for all of us. If we can’t agree on this, we will not be able to agree on anything else; but some of us are perhaps living a life of deceit or maybe one of denial. Maybe we can begin a new life by first beginning to relearn what truth is and what is right. At some point we lost our understanding of these things. We have, in fact, lost our understanding and appreciation of many things.

As I sit before my computer trying to write this article, I keep getting updates on what is happening in Layou, where recounting is supposed to be taking place. I am not going to say what I had been hearing, because they have not been confirmed and for me now I am treating them as rumours. Let us hope that all is for the best and that the problems which appear to be surfacing will be resolved in the best interest of all of us. The people have spoken, but have they really?

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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