An election is a great privilege and opportunity given to democracies to exercise their right to select those who will govern the affairs of that nation. This is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. In his article in The St Lucia STAR’s weekend edition, Rick Wayne came perilously close to endorsing vindictive, libelous, and irresponsible attacks from our political leaders as legitimate forms of campaigning. He is wrong. Maypwis should not be tolerated nor encouraged in the body politic. Already we are settling for an election that is destined to produce “my lesser evil” in preference to “your lesser evil” in our toxic political environment. Enough is enough!
In this context, there is a need to uplift the debate and dialogue, not to downgrade it, as my mentor and buddy is suggesting. Of course, knowing Rick as well as I do, he always has a sound rational for his argument and he makes his point as succinctly as he knows best. After laying out all his reasons for the duplicity of Labour Party members for not standing up for women rights in the past, Rick concluded: “Let the accused and accusing politicians expose one another’s nakedness in the best interests of transparency and accountability, not to say in the best interests of our nation as a whole. It serves the nation even when they lie about each other and unwittingly expose their own dishonesty.”
He continued: “Besides, better to know now that the candidates currently vying for public office are a bunch of disguised crooks, home wreckers, unconscionable fornicators, made-over prevaricators and potential abusers of the public trust than to discover the horrible truth only when there’s little we can do to save ourselves. If we’re especially lucky, in the process of checking for devil horns we just might discover an angel or two. Let us all remember there would be in the world far fewer evils (yes, lesser and great) without willing co-conspirators!”
I will be the first to admit that we need to know everything about those seeking public office. Transparency and accountability demand that those who present themselves in the political arena should make full disclosures about their finances, health and background. They need to be vetted properly and publicly when seeking the nation’s top jobs. Rick, we cannot and should not depend on maypwis for such serious discoveries. It must be done through an informed system of due diligence and by carefully prying and investigating. In this regard journalists have a crucial and very important role to play.
If we are to accept Rick’s endorsement of maypwis as the new normal, then it begs the question whose maypwis is more believable? The maypwis of the party we favor, or the more scandalous variety. By definition in the local parlance, maypwis is dirty, malicious and outrageous at its very core. It is designed for personal vilification and character assassination.
Those whose moral compasses are below the radar are usually the ones to hurl the first stone. Obviously, this is nothing new, for in the Biblical story of the adulterous woman, those who came with the biggest rocks to throw at her were themselves guilty of sleeping with her. The shocking truth is that they would have actually stoned the poor woman to death had Christ not intervened with a statement that pulled the veil of hypocrisy and unmasked their pretense: He wrote pointedly on the ground: “Those without sins cast the first stone. The recorded account is that in a New York minute her accusers vanished.
Let’s be clear, Rick did not endorse personal vilification or character assassination. He was very careful and clever to propose his endorsement of maypwis as a possible search for the truth about the candidates. Ah, but even Rick admitted that this may not even be a foolproof measure or the way forward. By his own admission: “If we’re especially lucky, in the process of checking the devils horns we just might discover an angel or two.” Really, Rick? You believe the important task of fact checking those who seek to represent us in Parliament should be left to mere chance? Surely, it is our right to dig deep into their backgrounds. This important democratic exercise should not be left simply to politicians hurling maypwis from their respective political platforms.
Finally, as journalists we must also look in the mirror. We should not allow politicians to lure us into accepting maypwis as an excuse for their lack of truthfulness and honesty. We must always ask the searching questions, even when the politicians accuse us of being hostile. We must insist and persist in seeking credible answers in an unwavering quest for bringing facts to light. We must be relentless in our pursuit of fairness, balance, equality and justice.
Rick, under your tutoring and molding hands I learned to be vigilant, aggressive and prying. At your altar of learning ? The St Lucia Star newspaper, I also learned to always be suspicious about politicians. I vowed never to forget those glorious lessons. Now I implore you not to lower the bar so that local politicians will not mistake the gutter for the swimming pool.
I’m sure you too will agree! If not, we agree to disagree.