The gun and the gown

Ignoring classical definitions of the term “legacy”, as may be found in any good English dictionary, one thinks of it as something which stands out as a distinguishing testimonial of an actor’s work over a period of time in the life of a family, a nation, a business, an industry or mankind as a whole. The particular thing is held up, and enjoys longevity due to its unique impact on and value.

By way of example, people of faith will maintain that Jesus’ legacy is the salvation or redemption of sinful man. Of course, Jesus did many other good and miraculous things during his ministry on earth. So we are looking for evidence showing that what has occurred has shifted things so beneficially or detrimentally, that it ought to be recognised, marked and credited as an actor’s legacy. This article will briefly examine certain ‘legacy’ issues in modern Grenada.

Furthering context and scope, the actor may be an innovator/inventor, a sportsman, a leader, a scientist, a government, the church or any entity that interfaces with and contributes to or otherwise affects people’s lives in various fields and in highly significant and extraordinary ways.

Usually, for a leader or government, the evaluation takes place primarily in relation to such things as economic transformation, social justice and human rights, the enlargement of democracy, good governance and constitutional reform.

Here, the leader does not get to re-write his record. Neither is he on good ground to contemplate that if he were to demonstrate a ‘change of heart’ then only the results or consequences that ‘new dispensation’ will be credited to him as having legacy value. Being so mistaken, he will come to realise that his true legacy is all his good and bad dealings which have impacted the society so profoundly as to lastingly affect the welfare, attitudes and thinking of the people one way or another.

Making Mr Chester Arlington Humphrey, an avowed atheist, the President of the Senate in the Parliament of Grenada, may well achieve legacy status of a certain kind on the part of the Prime Minister (effected by way of instructions to the Government–appointed members of the Senate)! In making his selection to one of the highest offices in the land, the PM had before him a set of tangible, historical and reputational facts. He has not complained, neither has there been any suggestion, that he was under any form of coercion or duress in making his decision.

Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that he did so in his own deliberate judgment. To this extent, he cannot be said to have acted in error, even though others may regard his decision-making on this point as a serious error in judgment, mildly put. It is also clear that he has chosen to ignore representations made to him not to proceed with his intended course of action before it became reality in early December, 2014.  Many Grenadians will regard this as a dark mark against our nation!

Settling our thinking on this matter, it should be noted that the
political, economic, social and spiritual foundations of this nation have found expression in the Grenada Constitution and the National Anthem. The very preamble of the Grenada Constitution states, “Whereas the people of Grenada – (a) have affirmed that their nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the fatherhood and supremacy of God…

(f) desire that their constitution should reflect the above principles and beliefs which represent those high ideals upon which their nation is founded….” Things cannot be more plainly put.

While the Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience (religion/worship), it does not guarantee the Office of President of the Senate to all citizens, including atheists. Importantly, this matter is governed by ‘convention’ of the Constitution, steered by settled practice and conditioned by the spiritual pillars of our nation. Secondly, being a member of the Senate representing the Labour Movement is a far cry from being “appointed by Government” as President of the Senate.

The Presidency is a seat of higher level national honour. So, quite unexpectedly, we have stumbled upon one of the classic tensions between party and State. Some things that are advantageous for a political party may be harmful to the State. Do you think that Grenadians will vote an atheist to be the Prime Minister, or accept as Governor General one who does not believe in God?

King David could not build a temple to Almighty God because he was declared to have shed too much blood. Moses could not enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience. So there are clear grounds of disqualification from favour. Unless we are a nation of non-believers, which we certainly are not, these interventions by God himself must speak loudly and clearly to us in Grenada at this time.

Chester Arlington Humphrey knows that Grenada is a nation that has been dedicated to God. In the past, he has refused the President’s invitation to pray at the commencement of proceedings in the Senate.

He must also be taken as one who neither believes in nor participates in the singing of our National Anthem. How could he when the Anthem declares, “Ever conscious of God, being proud of our heritage, may we with faith and courage…”  And ends, “God bless our Nation”?

Neither Chester Arlington Humphrey nor the Prime Minister is likely to be told anything directly by God as was the case with King David and Moses; their audience will be at another time and place. For the time being, they can most certainly be spoken to by the people of Grenada. Chester Arlington Humphrey, like the PM, is a well-read intellectual. They both know what the Constitution declares and what the Anthem trumpets. They both understand what indignity to a nation is. Dominant control of state power does not change that.

Reflecting on our modern history, Grenadians will describe the legacy
of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, on the positive side, as social revolution, political independence and St. George’s University. The Revolution’s legacy may be identified as the international airport, human resource development and patriotism. The two NDC regimes (1990-95, 2008-12) will be remembered for restoring creditworthiness and Sandals, respectively.  When we get to the NNP (1995-2008), we recognize the physical expansion of the capital city, new cruise terminal, concrete roads and IMANI.

Viewed dispassionately, some may contend that these are not of the order of the legacies of Sir Eric Gairy and the Grenada Revolution.

However, the NNP has looming opportunities to create legacy values in the areas of constitutional reform, enlargement of our democracy and economic transformation. Judging from the use of the National Transformation Fund in the 2015 budget, they seem not to be interested in the latter.

There will be no legacy regarding the notion of “inclusion”, nor will
there be any legacy attaching to the so-called ‘Project Grenada’.

These two have been without a cogent narrative and heavily contaminated by party political interests. An atheist as President of the Senate will create history, and cry out as a situation needing correcting, but its legacy value falls on the negative side.

Imagine Kirani James is motoring through his customary 400 meter sprint event, but when he turns the bend discovers that it has been turned into a sprint and hurdles race by someone to suit the gambling bets that he has placed. Big problem! The rules are different! The skill requirements are different! Kirani is entirely unfamiliar with and unprepared for this type of race! The result will be different! He will lose the race and all Grenada will bow in disbelief and sadness.

This is the nature of what confronts us now as a nation while Chester Arlington Humphrey puts on his newly-customised gown and wig, imported specially from London. But beware that the road from the gun to the gown is circular!

Yesterday, the gun’s role was to overthrow a duly-elected Government! Today, the gown’s role is to enthrone a duly-elected Government! Tomorrow might just be right for the gun tohave its say again regarding Government!

Things have changed but time has nothing to do with it! Constitution?
Who cares about the supreme law? National Anthem? Who cares about singing

Oh Papa! Rain fall in the mountain and now the river coming down!

Concerned Grenadian

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