Lessons from ‘Let La’

If there is one radio program that I think captures the views of the average St Lucian on love, sex, and relationships, it would be “Let La” on RCI, providing that the authors of those letters and the callers are genuine and not deliberately writing and saying stuff just for a dramatic effect. I can’t say that I am a regular listener to the program, since I only get a chance to listen to radio while driving, but this week’s letter was entertaining and “rorocious”, just how we St Lucians like it.

The whole idea of a woman cheating on her boyfriend with a married man and getting pregnant for him, twice, while she spends her lover’s money on her boyfriend is just priceless. It would be even juicier if the unsuspecting boyfriend was listening intently to the radio that day and putting two and two together. Underneath all the well-intentioned advice and comments from the callers, I was able to pick up what appeared to be a widespread sentiment among both men and women—that if a man discovers his woman’s infidelity, or finds out his child is not actually his, that the natural and normal thing for him to do is to beat her senseless, or want to kill her. I would hate to believe that St. Lucian men are that uncivilized and un-evolved. However, we are indeed a very possessive and territorial species and we do have a tendency to go to extremes to protect what we believe is ours.

When we cannot get our own way with others, we resort to threatening and beating them into submission. Fortunately, only a handful will resort to killing themselves or someone else in a last desperate attempt to have things their way. It really is a control issue—the delusion that one can control another human being’s thoughts, desires, and actions. Both men and women, for example, believe that when they’re in a relationship, or when they get married, they literally own one another. It is no different where children are concerned.

Children are like property to many parents, which is one reason why corporal punishment is so difficult to abolish. So the thinking is: it’s my man, my woman, or my child, and I can do as I please with them. The fear of infidelity must be the biggest concern for most people and so some foolishly think they have it in their power to prevent it from happening. There is nothing one can do to prevent someone from cheating. It is a common belief that when a partner cheats it is a reflection of a deficiency in the relationship. While that may be the case in some instances, we need to accept that people cheat because they can and because they want to—it’s that simple.

Despite the fact that society condemns it, the reality is that cheating is fun and exhilarating, at least for the one cheating. We are socialized into thinking that commitment and monogamy is the natural thing to do but there is nothing natural for many people about having feelings for only one person and spending one’s entire life with that one person. Human beings love variety, freshness of experience, and the feeling of being desired by as many people as possible. We love the thrill of doing something forbidden and not getting caught. It doesn’t matter how perfect your relationship is and how good you are in bed, if your partner hasn’t reached the stage in his or her life where monogamy is valued more than the thrills of casual sex, then infidelity will happen.

It may sound like I condone infidelity but I don’t. I think people who are unable to be monogamous, or who are not ready to be faithful should remain single or unattached. It is a painful thing to betray somebody’s trust. But I also don’t think that the experience has to be so painful that people lose their sanity and their lives over it.

We are devastated by infidelity and we suffer because our fragile ego gets bruised. We personalize the incident and see ourselves as the victim because we believe our “prized possession” has been shared and violated. Life would be so much more peaceful and bearable if we learned to relinquish our need to possess everything. Unless we learn to respect human beings as free individuals who have the right to be whoever they want to be and do whatever they please, within the confines of the law; unless we understand that it’s foolish to hold other people responsible for your hurt feelings, then domestic violence, crimes of passion, and suicide will continue to prevail. Relationships and children ought to be viewed in the same way we view our own lives.

We cannot dictate where our life will lead. We never know when life will depart from us. So we cherish it, take care of it, enjoy it, learn as much as we can from it while we have it, and when that time comes to let go, we simply let go. Being in a relationship is a choice that one makes willingly and it should never feel like a sentence handed down by the courts. No one should be obliged to stay with anyone, not to please their pastor or society, and not even for the sake of their own children.

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