‘Penny for your thoughts’

I am thinking that I know who and what I am.

Considering that I have become an exposed citizen, I know that I will find no comfort in insulting Caribbean people. Happily, and as a matter of commonsense, I do not harbour a temptation or an intention to even purport to do so.

However, I do think that I and many others have a blessed responsibility and are well able to analyse and discuss issues surrounding public affairs, the society and… cricket. For this purpose, I am prepared to share my thinking on important aspects of our circumstances, as a means of contributing to life in society.

I accept that every democratic society needs thinkers of various persuasions and levels of competence. What do you think?

To say that Caribbean people constitute a ‘pre-dominantly receiver society’ is not to insult anyone or to misrepresent or re-write our history. During the four hundred years of slavery, we had no more than a few cultural practices and religious rituals of our own. In the immediate aftermath of emancipation, we demonstrated an instinct to own only small parcels of land, as a peasantry. Up until the 1960s-70s, we received our economic purpose, administrative direction and political leadership from the UK.

Our foreparents knew how to work hard, but they were not taught to think. Therefore, our people of old could not think of commerce or services. In the main, to work was to sweat either as estate labourers, tradesmen or other sun-exposed occupations. So they thought!

The time had been when it was okay for us to eat coconut and to fry with coconut oil, and to drink bush tea, until foreign media told us there was potential harm in consuming these things. We heard! We listened! We stopped! We accepted alternatives! We did not think!

Obedience is a core characteristic of a ‘pre-dominantly receiver society’. The biblical injunction to obedience is a powerful value as it embeds a spiritual portal to God’s favour. On the contrary, slavish obedience is a symbol of displacement; a stamp of dependency and a conspicuous mark of the absence of ownership.

The pre – and early post-independence era in Grenada saw the society ‘receiving’ flows of political ideologies. Obeying the dictates of one such flow, a fledgling, but destructive Marxist-Leninist party, the NJM, took root in Grenada. The reception of that ideology produced a cadre of intellectual mercenaries and eventually led to the criminalisation of power and the bastardisation of our Grenadian civilisation.

Here is something to think about! Beginning in the late seventies, flows of American education psychology, including ‘strange’ teachings on teacher/student relationships, were innocently but enthusiastically received. The reception of that ‘baggage’ led to a breakdown in school-based discipline, as well as family-based control over children. Detrimentally, while this ensued, we received no flows regarding, governance, political power, democracy, development, service to Nation or the ownership of government.

Essentially, we have been shaped as both a receiver and a deficit society. Just consider our penchant for and capacity to receive ‘Independence’; grants, donations and loans; world market price for sugar, bananas, cocoa and nutmegs; phantom investors and foreign experts; black-listings, credit-ratings and structural adjustment programmes; among others. These things we experienced on account of our deficit condition and status. Something tells me that I know what you are thinking, but how can I be sure?

Just as earlier generations received cricket from the British, so too the generations of the eighties received basketball from the USA. Note that a ‘receiver society’ is easily activated by that which is fashionable and foreign. Therefore, insofar as the socio-cultural setup of our society is concerned, the reception of basketball was legitimate. By itself, it posed no obvious danger. So why are we pointing the finger at basketball? What are you thinking?

Basketball became the guilty oppressor of cricket not because youngsters found the sport attractive, but because Governments did not receive wisdom and understanding of the cultural mission of cricket in Caribbean society. They took it for granted! They did not think! Self-care is not one of the gifts we received. Therefore, no one could seriously expect cricket to take care of itself.

Recall also, that ownership is not among the few inheritances we received from the British. In the circumstances, we did not think that to reign and be a world leader in a sport we must actually own that sport. Practising the customary functions and responsibilities of ownership assure longevity.

“Thinking out loud”, there is a buoyant connection between sports and Government. Sports offer the visibility Governments (and political parties) need, as well as other Public Relations benefits.  Young people play sports and are either ready to vote or will be ready to vote in a few short years.

No wonder Uncle Gairy played cricket in every village he could find and his performance with bat and ball made the day’s news, without fail! Among other things, he was clearly a political thinker! What do you think?

Today, we rue the fall of the West Indies as a dominant Test Cricket team; but we blind ourselves to the fall of the sport of cricket in the contributing countries of the region. Yet we act as though we have no responsibility for that state of affairs. West Indies cricket and the backwardness of the WICB have not featured in recent General Elections in the region or in the policy statements of our Governments.

Consequently, national budgets have not contained allocations for the development of cricket, so as to promote its cultural mission, in any strategic way. What are we thinking? We want to celebrate the glory so badly that we think all we must do is to “huff n’ puff” and blow down the WICB’s bramble wickets!

Suppose, just a few months ago, one strongly supported Joel Garner’s bid for the Presidency of the WICB. Can such convince others today that one is genuinely concerned about the WICB’s system of governance by posturing in the media as a strident advocate of its dissolution as the first and main order of business?

Nelson Mandela may have played cricket as a boy. Clearly he suffered as a political prisoner. Nevertheless, he was wise enough not to allow offence to ‘clean-bowl’ his judgment and ‘drop’ his responsibility to the South African nation.

One is urged to take a page from Mandela’s book of humility and honour and not invoke his proud legacy (and that of De Klerk, relevantly) as a cloak for mere personal scores.  Fair enough?

‘Penny for your thoughts’.

William Joseph

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