Good Karma, Bad Karma

In these troubled times vigilance is critical because karma hangs over nations ready to fall anyplace, anytime. In oriental religious philosophy of Buddhism and Confucianism karma is payback for past deeds done, good or bad. In contemporary secular vernacular, we say “you reap what you sow”.

The world is a “global village” and we are all interconnected in a multiplicity of symbiotic relationships. The driving forces behind international real-time connectivity are instant international dialing, cutting-edge information and communication technologies (ICT), and the internet superhighway in cyberspace. With globalisation the whole world is our neighbour.

No country or people survive for long in autarky behind an “Iron Curtain” of isolation, unconcerned with international laws and changing global dynamics. Like the Soviet Union, countries that try soon self destruct, break up into contentious factions, or become “failed states”. Violation of international norms is bad karma.

And today international causative karma is subsumed by a small “triad” of global power brokers under G8 domination: the World Bank, World Trade Organisation, and the International Monetary Fund. These three entities are the leading vanguards of global socio-economic restructurings, unrestricted financial flows, free-market trade liberalisation, and democratic rights and freedoms.

The all-encompassing tentacles of the triad reach across the world handing down retributive justice, rewards and punishment with their own unique brand of karma. They are the “God players” and no one escapes judgment.

Unfortunately, our governments’ policies and practices have violated the principles of karma for decades and today we are paying “big times” for it. We keep doing things as if there is no tomorrow, forgetting that every action (or inaction) breeds a reaction from the powers-that-be.

In the following we instance a few notables. Consider the slanderous abuse of thousands of scholarships granted to Grenada by international benefactors. Overtime, the large number of awardees has become nothing but pawns in “Games of Thrones” to build party prestige, and returning scholars find themselves dumped like thrash, no longer useful to score political mileage. It is a travesty committed with impunity.

Our governments ignore the fact that a scholarship is a contract undertaken for a specific purpose with measurable performance criteria. It is an agreement that graduates will be employed in development of the beneficiary country. Therefore, failure by one party to perform constitutes a material breach of contract liable to serious sanction.

Imagine the repercussion if the rules of engagement change and foreign benefactors should collectively call a moratorium to measure performance of the Grenada scholarships they have financed over the years. Our track record of abuse would condemn us, all future scholarship financing could be cancelled, and millions in refunds demanded. The intellectual capital stock of the nation would be decimated, and this would be justifiable karma at work – not bad luck.

A month ago (July 2015) the U.S. Supreme Court legalised same sex marriage for the whole of America. In the meantime the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other international institutions are pressuring Grenada to repeal its anti-gay law for the protection of human rights and civil liberties. The message is abundantly clear – legalise homosexuality or feel the “heavy manners” of karma.

And there is precedent to this. In a New Today article entitled “Economics, Homophobics, and Global Dynamics” (May 23, 2014), this writer related the brutal economic backlash Uganda faced for passing a draconian anti-homosexual law. In sum, the European Union immediately imposed sanction on Uganda, the World Bank postponed a U$290 million aid package, and the U.S. Congress withdrew Uganda’s $U500 million annual appropriation.

The Uganda affair is instructive and should resonate very strongly with us here in Grenada. It sent a strong signal to those who transgress the laws of karma. If we still don’t get the message perhaps we never will.

Finally, bad karma is also negative fallout from our enduring dependency syndrome. For half a century Caribbean countries have been dependent on a long line of “mother givers” and “godfathers” to prop up our ailing economies: Britain, the European Union, Taiwan, Japan, to name a few. In the end they all abandon us once we outlived our usefulness to them.

Today, our new godfather is Venezuela. Thanks to the “generosity” of Hugo Chavez, for a decade Venezuela’s PetroCaribe has saved the economies of a dozen CARICOM countries from virtual collapse. For them the cheap oil with its concessionary payment scheme was “manna from heaven”.

However, lately this cozy partnership with Venezuela has been becoming increasingly problematic for two important reasons. First, the recent dramatic fall in oil prices is putting tremendous domestic pressure on Venezuela to rethink Petrocaribe, and its termination could be catastrophic for many regional economies.

Second, and extremely worrisome, Venezuela has resumed its belligerent and bellicose confrontations with Guyana making spurious claims to a huge chunk (66%) of its territory.

This scenario poses a dilemma of split loyalty for CARICOM leaders. However, it is a great opportunity to do the right thing and bring us some good karma.

Jay Bruno

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