We are now in our 40th decade of independence. Yet on introspection we must ask ourselves: Are we really independent? We are unsure of the CCJ, unsure of revisions to our constitution.
We hardly export any goods. Thank God for “Remittances”. Every week we see the large ships brace up at the port, bringing lots of imported Goods. The car boat comes and delivers brand new cars. We go to Miami to shop. Our import bill is way in excess of our export bill.
The rest is made up of “Remittances” from the families abroad, plus loans and grants. To meet our obligations, the Government has used superlative creative ways of raising taxes to help meet the shortfall in its commitment to pay salaries and meet its budgetary requirement to fulfill its political mandate.
Our tendency is to look to Government to provide everything. Yet we say we are “independent,” we see government as the “Big Daddy”. We must take a conscious introspection into ourselves as a nation. Why this dependence on Government to do everything? Where is our “Self-actualisation”, our creative zeal? What do we export and in what quantities? We talk of making by-product with the few items we produce. How effective has this been?
Over the years we have been able to minimise our unemployment by exporting our Human Capital. I left GBSS almost fifty (50) years ago and of my Higher School Class of some thirty-five (35) boys only five (5) or six (6) are in the island and most of us were returning residents. My point is that within three to five years ninety (90) percent of our young people leaving school migrate to Canada, U.K or the U.S. and other countries. Most have done well in their chosen vocation, they have settled, have families and never returned on a permanent basis.
Just as our nutmeg and cocoa, we export our brightest and most talented young people. We cannot absorb them, we lack the economic capacity, imagination and acumen, yet we say we are “Independent.”
We have become materially acquisitive, inconsiderate to each other, insensitive, ill-mannered and rude, particularly in our use of our roads. I am also culpable of these indiscretions. We do not like each other, we are selfish and aggressive. When we use the road, we stop anywhere, turn anywhere, carryon a conversation in the middle of the road. We also stop to drop someone in the same middle of the road and we ‘vex’ when someone blows us to move on. They will park in two (2) spots. But the biggest offenders are the “Minibus” drivers.
The “Mini-bus Drivers” break the traffic laws with impunity. They stop anywhere, drive too fast, and will run you off the road. If you try to talk to them, they curse you in the worse manner. We overtake, squeeze bye and drive with our “High Beams on”. Many of our senior citizen cannot drive at night because of the distraction of the high beams.
We are insensitive and discourteous to each other on the road. We do not say thank you to the driver who gives way to us on a tight corner, or who reverses to give way to us on a narrow lane. They will jam you on tight road, and ask you where you get your licence, did you buy it. Of course all licences have to be bought and paid for.
The Bus Drivers will hold up the traffic at C.K’s round-a-bout, then do the same by Food Fair. They will not go into the bay. They stay at the beginning. The light will be green and the conductor will cross the road to hold up traffic to solicit a passenger.
As recently as Saturday, I turned from the Carenage into Scott’s Street, there was a mini bus in front of me. The driver stopped thirty (30) feet from the intersection to let out a passenger.
Couple feet up, he stops at Food Fair’s entrance to pick up two ladies with shopping bags, when he reaches the intersection of Tryne Alley and Scott Street, he stops again to let out two passengers.
We make a right turn from Scott Street into Tyrrel Street, he stop again by the old bus stop.
When we are going down Hughes Street (Jack’s Alley) he stops again to let out and pick up passengers. The legitimate bus stop is a few yards away in front of Brathwaite’s shop.
If you try to talk to him he will tell you everything about your ”Mother”.
Most bus drivers are insensitive to other users of the road. They do not realise that they are the ones responsible for their passengers and other lives on the road. Many are not well groomed – they and their conductors wear all sorts of clothing. Sometimes they wear T-Shirts or sleeveless “Top”.
They are responsibile for transporting the public to their workplace or wherever. The driver holds an awesome trust – human lives in transporting the public to and from their jobs and other destinations. They should be properly groomed and attired. They should know the rules of the road and know how to deal with our visitors.
The drivers should know some background knowledge of the history of our towns and the island in general since this will be an additional asset. We should introduce a dress code for both drivers and conductors. They should wear a solid T-shirt, blue, white, tan, brown,
green. They should periodically be tested for their knowledge of the road and the courtesies to be extended to other users of the road.
No one says thanks for the effort of the other driver, we take it for granted. Should this be Government’s responsibility? Could the Prime Minister monitor the whole society? Are we independent enough to use our “Intuitive Judgment”.
Keith seems to connect, he is a consummate “Politician”. Naz, for all his brilliant articulation and sincerity of effort, does not seem to connect, he is an assiduous worker, soft spoken and collective, but his message does not seem to resonate with the people. He has the party backing, but seems unable to bridge that transindital “Gap” with the undecided, which includes women voters. That floating group decides the outcome of an election. He appears to lack what the Ancient Greeks refer to as the “Hubris”.
A good politician must understand the pulsation and culture of the electorate. Luck favours the “prepared man”. Extend that to party.
For the chief, temperament of government is to have empathy over those whom they rule.
These days there is accelerated discussion on constitutional reform.
We are an “Independent Nation,” we must tailor our constitution to meet the needs of our people. We must have the insight to intuitively anticipate the governing challenges of the future.
The proposed new constitution is prepared to give a Prime Minister three successive terms in office. Most states try to limit this because of the potential abuse of power.
The U.S.A. has two successive four (4) years terms as their limit.
We must be guided by the ‘Maxim’ that “All Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
We are worried about “political interference” of the CCJ but if we call ourselves an independent nation we must have reasonable access to our institutions, which are more in tuned with the cultural relevance of our people.
The Privy Council is prohibitively costly, our people must have access to “Justice”. In Canada, U.K and the U.S.A., all Supreme Court Judges are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister.
In the early days of U.S. independence, they fought for over fifteen (15) years to decide on the nature of the Supreme Court and who should appoint the judges. More recently with the untimely death of Justice Scalia, Obama, appointed a replacement Judge, the Republican Party blocked the appointment because of their unyielding ‘Opposition’ to Obama. They control the majority in the House and Senate.
If “Keith” attempted to do this; all of us will be on his back. If we are afraid and unwilling to fashion our institutions as an “Independent Nation” then what kind of ‘Independent Nation’ are we?
Are we that insecure or afraid of each other as a people, do we distrust our appointed leaders ‘so much’, when will we mature as a people. Is our house in order, do we have confidence in ourselves?
As I asked earlier – are we really independent? Do we export anything? Do we produce enough income and revenue to sustain ourselves as an ‘Independent Nation’? Are we good to each other – are we our ‘Brother’s’ keeper? Do we have a collective “will or vision” as a people as to how to act as an Independent Nation? Or what critical pathway we want to pursue as an ‘Independent Nation.’
We pay homage to a “Youth Culture” because we always wanted the best for our ‘Children’. Now they have taken over, they have no manners, empathy or consideration for old folks.
We have ‘indulged’ them – look at their mode of dress, their conduct particularly at ‘Carnival’, they behave as the children of Israel as when Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to communicate with the ‘Almighty’. They built the “Golden Calf”.
We ‘obfuscated’ our standards, why not; we are an ‘Independent Nation’. I am aware that we all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. But how do we take care of our sick, the disabled, those of us with some kind of affliction?
As an “Independent Nation well into our 40th decade of independence, how well have we looked after our people, the disadvantaged. We have grown selfish and introspective.
What legacy do we want to leave for our children and grandchildren as an Independent nation? How well have we developed the relevant institutions to take care of our people? As Cassius told Brutus in Julius Caesar – He said, “the fault dear Brutus is not in ourselves, but in our stars that we are underlying.”
(To be continued)