Iwould be failing in a duty I owe to this island if I refrained from commenting on a recent televised discussion between Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and the leader of the opposition Philip J. Pierre. Attorney Kim St. Rose, who is charged with reviewing the work of the Constitution Reform Commission, and experienced attorney Andy George were also present.
As a young parliamentarian in the 70s, I am on record saying that changing a government through peaceful democratic vote is not difficult. The ability to execute changes promised at elections is the hard part of politics. Some politicians can talk the talk, but cannot walk the talk. The few who can execute their vision bring about positive change.
The televised discussion on constitutional reform between the two political leaders was such a sea change from politics as usual that the event was captured for all time in the STAR newspaper of March 11, 2017 by Rick Wayne in his ‘Writings on the Wall,’ and by the Voice editorial of the same date. The STAR opined: “But the attitude, as earlier noted, reminded that it is indeed possible to debate in the name of the people without conjuring images of hungry wool packs fighting for possession of a rabbit’s foot.”
The Voice editorial for its part, observed: “It pleases us greatly that we have reopened the debate on constitutional reform for the very simple reason that there are issues that continue to arise in our country that require change in the way they are handled.”
A former Minister in the SLP government of 2001 to 2006, Ignatius Jean, also commented positively on the groundbreaking discussion via a letter to last weekend’s Voice newspaper.
These three reminded me that change has consequences. Positive, meaningful change is often uncomfortable both at the individual level and the level of the State. The reason is, meaningful change calls for tremendous sacrifice and effort. In reality nothing useful and valuable can be achieved without effort and a willingness to change. Lacklustre individuals, who give only 10% effort, will not achieve excellence. ,So it is with the State! Politicians who are fearful and timid and who sacrifice long-term good for short-term popularity will achieve nothing meaningful. One therefore ought to be fearless and bold in implementing positive, desirable change. Some leaders fear change because they cannot control the consequences of change, negative or positive. Some are afraid to help create a new mind-set and personality even when people, with proper training, would prosper in the changed environment.
Unfortunately, the yard fowl syndrome persists in some leaders. These miss-leaders prefer a country to continue cap-in-hand to foreign donors, some with questionable agendas. Their pursuit of mediocrity is a path strewn with severe negative consequences. Their people develop mendicancy – an anathema to progress. Only a continuous striving for excellence and a determined effort to jettison mediocrity will finally unleash the hidden potential of Saint Lucia.
In the pursuit of excellence and positive consequences one ought to keep in mind the negative consequences of mediocrity and under-development. Too often the consequences of mediocrity are crime; and crime the enemy of excellence. These two cannot co-exist. In this regard the recent positive meeting between Prime Minister Chastanet and leader of the opposition Pierre can usher a new and positive agenda for this island. Hopefully, positive consequences will flow from this simple but profound beginning.