In her book ‘The Senator Next Door’ Amy Klobuchar’s gives an account of her early family life and her climb to senior Senator of Minnesota, in the United States Senate. It is an interesting read even though the Senator reserves the gem and touchstone of her account, to the very last pages – the Epilogue. There, she relates a family visit to Slovenia, the home of her ancestors, and the story of a writer who was dying of cancer and who decided to write her own obituary to leave behind for her children. In that story the writer left to posterity this wisdom: ‘May you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they are the path.’
This revelation may not surprise those who have had the benefit of wise counsel from parents, guardians, teachers and enlightened leaders. Perceptive parents and guardians teach children to ‘stay the course and don’t give up; remain committed and surmount the obstacles of life’. Whatever the challenges, persistent effort, practice and focus can help overcome them. Enlightened leaders including gifted priests, pastors and civil society advocates teach the infinite wisdom that obstacles are tests of faith, grace and endurance. Indeed, obstacles are the path which leads to the place where God desires us to be.
On reflection, therefore, obstacles are a sort of blessing – obstructions that lead to the path of knowledge and greater understanding. Getting through obstacles is often a challenge that requires courage and patience. Not surprisingly, the more difficult the obstacles, the more physical and emotional pain they inflict, the sweeter the victory. Later, when the valley is crossed and the mountain top is reached, one may look back at the obstacles as real blessings – the path! One emerges from such obstacles chastened and cleansed. A new mind-set emerges viewing the journey as unique and interesting, not as previously perceived.
Unfortunately, a mind wrought by fear and misgivings can often misinterpret obstacles as ‘no-entry’ zones. But the road of life is never without challenges; one therefore continues to walk or climb even where obstacles abound. Such is the path to a fulfilling life – and discovering solutions.
If I were a betting man I would wager that many seniors here could give several examples in which obstacles led them to a better and more secure place. From my own experience I can truthfully say that the obstacles I have encountered, some deliberate and maliciously thrown in my way, have led me to where I am today, enjoying a peaceful life and reasonably good health. Looking back I see few of my former nemeses among the living. It is as if God cleared the obstacles, one person at a time, whilst giving me the courage to stay focused and keep walking by faith along the path He prepared for me. To say that He is a lamp at my feet and the light in my path would be a gross understatement. He is everything! That is my testimony.
Still, I do not carry religion on my sleeves, exposing it to vulgar eyes, as I do my politics. And at the mention of politics let me digress a moment to say how happy and proud the delegates at the United Workers Party (UWP) convention in 2013 to 2015 made me feel by the way they overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Allen Chastanet. It was even more gratifying when the electorate of Saint Lucia turned out in June 2016 to give Allen and his UWP team a well-deserved electoral victory. The obstacles thrown in his path were all cleared that day. One hopes and prays that he can finally bind the country together using his vision and God’s guidance to overcome all new obstacles in his path.
His supporters must be prepared to stand up, defend and promote his vision and values. They must stand their ground and clear away obstacles deliberately thrown by obstructionists aiming to frustrate the government and its workers. One ought to remember that the opposition is doing what it does best – oppose, oppose and oppose!
The prime minister must take into account the considerable cunning and calculated mischief, prompted by politicians who operate mostly in secret behind closed doors. The idea of a negotiated compromise only works in politics when men of goodwill are prepared to stand and speak candidly. The government would do well to remember that to placate his foes and overcome obstacles through compromise will depend on his estimate of its worth to the country. There is a time for war and a time for peace, a time to love and a time . . .
It’s better for the PM to break new ground for new investments and job creation rather than wait for the obstructions in his path to disappear. He should continue on the path of transparency and accountability. He must keep his party supporters and the general public informed of his social and economic development plans. In 2016 the people turned the SLP obstacles into a path of victory. Persons who do not support the vision, the transparency and his openness must learn to see that these qualities are the new path. No individual is bigger than the party, the parliament, or the people.
The prime minister must caucus with senior stalwarts of the party, to canvass their views on matters of party and national interests. He should also organise informal talks with key party affiliates here and abroad. Spreading and defending his party’s manifesto vision is still a necessary and essential job. Helping Saint Lucia climb out of the deep ditch into which the SLP placed it should be the job of every serious and dedicated worker. Stalwarts and supporters must find a way to convert the obstacles created by the SLP into a path towards growth and development for all Saint Lucians. ‘One Love’ policy must be seen and felt.
If Prime Minister Allen Chastanet does all these things and does them well he will succeed in pulling his people from the jaws of economic disaster and ensure that a brighter future beacons regardless of the obstacles in his path. Then we shall finally discover that obstacles are the path – to the New Jerusalem.