To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards of men.
– Abraham Lincoln
Since 2008, Saint Lucia has been engulfed in a tailspin of harsh economic times, limiting direct investment and unleashing a focus on politics rather than on economics. All this time—2008—discourse has been limited to the rhetoric of the political parties, red and yellow. In a country that pridefully claims it fought for its Independence, there appears to be no obvious appreciation of the independent thinker. That is to say, the thinker who wishes to debate, even discuss solutions while staying clear of partisan politics. There appears to be no room here for apolitical would-be contributors who refuse to play by the rules of partisan politics; who refuse to buy into the stultifying notion that the party is everything, entertained on both sides of the political divide.
The independent thinker is besieged by the party faithful.He or she dare not offer a word of advice without the risk of being smeared, ridiculed or threatened. And the damage rises as we focus on the politics of every issue rather than the economic challenges and real solutions. No issue is left free of political contamination: crime, education, foreign direct investment, tourism, agriculture—even cultural activities must now be painted red or yellow.
How shocking that this is how we deal with the most critical of our time. There can be no discourse without someone bringing up the possible impact on elections. There will be a price to pay for such madness; we are already paying, whether or not we are willing to acknowledge this fact.
Those of us who pride ourselves as being independent thinkers, for the sake of our present and future must stand up now and shout: Enough, we can have no more of this insanity! We must step up and demand that our voices be heard. Starting today, we must face the harsh truth that partisan politics is killing what chances our country has of moving out of the swamp that now threatens us all: thinkers as well as hacks.
We must as a nation be willing to embrace independent thinkers who, admittedly, are not always right. We pretend to celebrate them; we hear them. But do we really permit ourselves to listen to what they are saying? Do we allow ourselves to fully grasp what they write or have written? I’m referring to such as Sir Arthur Lewis, Derek Walcott, Rick Wayne, Harold Simmons. I could include others. In 2016 let us awaken from this self-imposed silence; let us decide now no longer to be shameful cowards. Let us encourage in our fellow citizens that independence of the spirit, independence of thought, so that we can create new strategies and policies for dealing with this daunting present that’s destined to grow much worse unless we confront it together.