By age thirty-eight people settle into a pattern of work, trade, profession or other income-generating ventures. The next two decades constitute a period of highest personal growth, income and experience. At 38 there are often children raised in a proven social milieu of decency, God-fearing and law-abiding citizens. Ideally religious leaders, business and civil society aim to uphold the same values as the family. There are often bumps and missteps, especially in a society which finds itself divided by unhappy, negative spirits living miserable lives. Increasingly, these negative forces live in quiet desperation hiding behind the use of politics. Such repugnant conduct thankfully represents a small section of society.
A country achieving 38 years of political independence faces the same challenges as the average citizen. The pursuit of equal opportunity and justice, while raising its social and economic status, are shared pursuits. By its 38th anniversary of independence a change of government ought not to affect the way citizens raise their children and pursue their ambitions. Most people will continue to forge ahead, refusing to depend on government for handouts or favours. Unfortunately, there is a growing segment which seems the opposite.
Prior to adult suffrage, schoolteachers, headmasters, town clerks, priests and pastors were looked upon as role models and icons. The democratic vote brought local politicians into greater prominence. Soon they were promising to cure all the ills of society. In return, the electorate was encouraged to increasingly turn to politicians while setting aside earlier icons. Procuring a foreign visa, a birth certificate, a place at a secondary school or a job has become a matter for a parliamentarian’s intervention. This dependency syndrome has grown worse with the passage of time. Its growth has been exacerbated by demagogues and rogues disguised as politicians.
Political wolves in sheep’s clothing have perfected the art of deception. Increasingly, dirty money is finding its way into local politics. Money from dubious sources is used at elections and, once in office, proceeds to manage the national economy quietly reaping huge profits. The compromised leader is incapable of delivering promises made, except to selected party hacks. Such leaders do not explain their actions as normal parents would. They discriminate and skew their assistance to those who have become dependent on them for cooking gas, baby diapers, school supplies and more. This has been a growing trend up to the 38th anniversary of independence. Such practised patronage is unsustainable. Sooner or later someone will be elected to correct this insult to the dignity of the citizen. Teaching people how to fish and creating a mindset of personal freedom and financial independence is the proven way to develop a nation. It’s the only decent thing to replace the vulgarity of dependence.
Change is never easy. It is as difficult for the individual as it is for a country. A man has to battle every day against his natural instinct, in order to love and procreate with one partner. To abide by the rule of one man, one woman is not natural to the average Joe. Neither is celibacy natural for strong, young, healthy men who serve as priests and pastors. But the majority succeed in living up to what they have agreed. And we applaud men who master their instincts for the good of society. It is by similar discipline and self control that a new leader gains legitimacy to change the old repugnant politics of patronage and graft.
Still, there are too many rogues able to pay for radio and television to poison the minds of the innocent. Our Better Angels must find the resources and the gonads to oppose these rabble-rousers and agitators with their lies and misinformation. Such fakery must not be allowed in the name of freedom. Freedom must never protect the use of dirty money which seeks to mislead. In other words, dirty drug money must not be allowed into the island’s politics, twisting innocent minds.
At independence 38 years ago the island was off to a solid start with discipline and the rule of law as foundation. Soon, however, it took a wrong turn. How it happened and why, are questions that will forever be researched. These questions will not be easily settled to everyone’s satisfaction. However, there will be need to look back occasionally to see how far we have come and what more is left to be done. Putting our country and its people on a sound social and economic footing is still job number one. Overturning the political culture of dependency is a necessary pursuit of politics.
It is what every visionary prime minister seeks. He is expected to correct the wrongs the people voted against and keep his promise to the electorate. His government is expected to behave in a more inclusive and gentlemanly manner. Above all, a new prime minister is expected to bring new hope to the people, acknowledging the primacy of God, acting in good faith.
In a sense a new leader must end the old ways of tribal politics and show moral courage in reforming the society. To this end a wise leader will pursue honesty at all times; explaining his policies and modes of operation as he goes along.
During its 38 years of independence, this island has had several prime ministers – Compton, Louisy, Cenac, Lewis, Anthony, King and Chastanet. Which of these, dear reader, can one honestly describe as a rogue, a demagogue, a vagabond? You know the answer if you have been around throughout the 38-year journey of independence. Now we pray that God continues to bless Saint Lucia and save her from political rogues and harm.