There’s been much talk lately about unity; about “coming together as a people.” Why? Is it that we have only recently discovered we are not at all, as earlier we had imagined, one people united? Ironically, much of the unity guff is laced with the notorious poisons of politics and religion.
Wherever there are wars, count on it, there, too, will be found political and religious fanatics feverishly rallying the people to do harm to themselves. Undeniably, politics and religion are at the root of all that is evil in the Middle East, as is the case even in the “land of the free.”
In stricken Saint Lucia, too. A regrettably undeniable fact clearly manifest in the behavior of our politicians and their respective ovine followers. It’s almost impossible to recall a meeting of parliament when our elected honorable representatives did not fire across the table such allegations as only back-alley scumbags might casually toss at each other. In one particularly unforgettable, recorded exchange at the only “Honorable House” in the land, one MP threatened to “shoot from the hip and make shit come out of your mouth.” In more recent times MPs have referred to one another as criminals, renegades, money launderers, liars and wife abusers. Yes, with TV in attendance!
Of course, I am well aware even as I write that some conceivably disturbed readers will be itching to remind me about other uproarious sessions of parliament in environments ostensibly far more sophisticated than ours.
We’ve all seen the discombobulating CNN news clips that included punch-ups, hair pulling and eggs tossed around the chamber. In all events, how sad that my would-be reminders would seek to justify egregious local behavior by citing such foreign worst-case scenarios, such hooliganism, so obviously counterproductive, not to say uncivilized!
Only the particularly naïve will expect people to come together naturally. I suspect it is in the DNA of human beings to compete, anyway. But does competition have to be synonymous with ultimately suicidal behavior? If Usain Bolt can compete, as he does so successfully, against athletes from nations not all friendly, without a drop of blood being shed, without an insulting word, why can’t we in our daily dealings? Why can’t our politicians, if only in our nation’s best interests?
We can only speculate about the thoughts of President Ma as, accompanied by our prime minister and his Cabinet, he toured the several multi-million-dollar projects financed by the government and people of Taiwan (including the salvaged Wellness Center), bearing in mind the demonstrated ingratitude toward his representative Ambassador Tom Chou. But then the visitor, who has from time to time had reason to remind the world that Taipei and Beijing are brothers and sisters despite their disagreements, would know only too well our proclivity to throw out babies with the bathwater!
Why can’t we learn to disagree agreeably? The irreducibly depressing truth is that politicians have always taken advantage of the people’s trust and self-servingly turned them one against the other. Seldom do our soi-disant leaders discuss the pros and cons of their respective policies. Indeed, why should they when they are not required to? The consequence is a people happily accepting of unaccountability on the part of their government, a people who in the name of party loyalty, wittingly or otherwise, defend mediocrity and incompetence and corruption.
Point out a shortcoming of the present incumbents and predictably you’ll be informed by their mindless endorsers the faults of the previous administration, as if right and wrong depended on the perpetrator’s political affiliation. Defenders of the opposition are similarly afflicted. Earlier this week someone was on one of our radio stations yet again disparaging the several times elected Stephenson King, on the ground that he had never attended university and badly needed “a piece of paper” to render himself worthy of public office—while at the same time insisting the recently elected university-educated new leader of the former prime minister’s party is, for undisclosed reasons, “not electable.”
It was painfully obvious the man on the radio could himself do with at least some basic schooling. Not once did he mention a policy decision by the previous or current administrations. Or the fact that some of the more
shocking abuses of office uncovered here were committed by MPs with several pieces of paper.
Indisputably, we are together in the present economic quicksand, similarly affected, victims both of fate and of our own device. Is that not good enough reason to come together in the name of survival? After all, what
better tool by which to unite a people than a common cause? Alas, the only cause we seem capable of recognizing is the election and re-election of our favorite political parties—which demands we remain divided. And so, blinded by prejudice, ignorance, yes, and self-hatred, we spit happily at the sky!