Take the referendum seriously!!!

The world is ever changing. Intense development in science and other fields of technology usher new knowledge almost daily challenging how we think.

Children and young adults in the 21st century exposed to infinitely more information than the average adult of yesteryear think differently. Medical breakthroughs in DNA and more in-depth understanding of the inner workings of the human brain now better explain human biological differences and psychological behaviours hitherto thought to be unnatural or deviant.

Unfortunately many people in prominent positions of leadership adhere to 19th century values, languish in dated knowledge and outmoded stereotypes and, yes, witchcraft to explain natural phenomenon.
This leads me to the Grenadian constitutional referendum. A common thread by, the opposition, NDC, that the people have not been properly informed – sufficiently educated – to make the “right decision” – whatever that means – places the onus on government.

The NDC’s claim that the Mitchell government has not done the on-the-ground work to carry the message to the citizenry is well known. One would therefore think that a nationalistic and shrewd political party having lost credibility at the ballot box (15-0) and recognising the shortcomings of government would seize the opportunity to use the party apparatus, taking the bull by the horns, to fill that void and gain political mileage.

If educating the people on the merits or demerits of constitutional reform is a true concern, the bedrock of the party’s opposition to the referendum, why has no evidence surfaced that the NDC has an effective campaign to educate the people on a matter so important to them in making the “right decision?” Why are they still waiting on the government?

Criticising has thus far brought no resolution to the NDC’s concern and sending mixed messages: abstain from voting, vote no to all amendments, vote your conscience – reminds me of “The Donald,” certainly not in keeping with sound and thoughtful leadership decisions that have plagued the NDC and seem to be escalating again.

Those ill-advised leadership decisions also play out in the Senate where the Leader of the Opposition openly declared his time was better spent on his personal business. It appears that the people’s business from that perspective has been put on a low priority by the Opposition Leader.

Clearly, to a rational and reasonable person Senators must possess some magnitude of patriotism, that country before self means undying commitment to country and if circumstances change, as sometimes happens, the honorable thing to do is to demit, and as political leader, who obviously has the wisdom, recommend a trusted and committed disciple to continue the term of office.

Disappointing but not surprising is the politicising of an extremely important constitutional process that equally impacts every political party – advantages and disadvantages rub all in the same direction.
It is dishonest to posit that proposed constructional reforms favour one party over another, the pendulum in

Grenadian politics, the most casual observer will note, swings freely.

Protection from discrimination against individuals or particular groups, and minorities conspicuously absent in the constitution – a throwback from the dark ages of entrenched imperialism – must now change in concert with the realities of contemporary Grenadian society.

Standards of morality, the impact of globalisation and human rights which the referendum must address as a member of the international community: LGBT, gays, lesbians, freedom of religions, and violation of human rights, must stand as guiding lights to the process of change.

The opposition is well aware that the critical constitutional balance of rights played out on the world stage can draw condemnation and have a negative effect on visitors, donors and trading partners.

Why a no vote, especially on item six (6) on the constitutional referendum ballot that would protect fundamental universal human rights as set out by the U.N. guaranteeing Grenadians and visitors alike the comfort of equal protection under law?

Grenada does not and cannot stand in isolation from the international community that dictate, more and more, as our citizens travel, live abroad and return, the inescapable realities of new found morals and youthful liberal thinking that filter back to our country.

Amendments to our constitution must foresee the aims and aspirations of generations far in the future and not the narrow views of today.

To say no to changes that would impact the lives of future generations while hiding in the comfort of our own constricted and outdated self-serving views history shows, conflict with the liberalisation of social norms to which our children and our children’s children will adapt.

We must live for the future not the present and past – future generations cannot be expected to conform to the old ways – the dynamics and evolution of human behaviour of the 21th Century has not in any manner reverted to any period in past human history – constitutional change will similarly weave its way.

The constitution endowed with immortality will from time to time revolutionise to reflect changing times; what is proposed now may have little relevance in 50 years – take small bites of the apple and chew well lest we choke, others will certainly follow.

The task is not to do it all in one full scoop – overly ambitious – but be mindful that coming generations with fresh ideas may be bogged down by the havoc we have created.

Grenada enjoys democracy, free speech and the right to vote, a powerful weapon for change. Millions of people world over have died and are still dying to safeguard that inalienable right.

We can disavow – by not voting – the tremendous sacrifice and cause for which our forefathers and mothers laid down their lives – voting rights we now take for granted – or hold our heads high as proud and patriotic women and men of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique casting our vote in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Kit Stonewalling

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