Among the several lessons fellow inhabitants of this Rock of Sages have taught me by example is the following: once a Rock dweller has arrived at a decision (I almost wrote “has made up his mind” but of course that would be farfetched, to say the least!) come hell or high water he or she will cling to it.
Nowhere in this world have I bumped into people more consistent. Who cares if the great thinker Emerson believed “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
I can just imagine some doped-up reader asking: When did Nurse become a great thinker? And what the hell is he saying, anyway? For your edification: I refer to Ralph Waldo Emerson, not Emerson Nurse our beloved musician.
As for what Emerson meant to convey, this is how one expert tells it: “Only little minds, like those of politicians, philosophers, divines and little statesmen, worry about seeming consistent. Great minds just follow whatever they think at any given time.”
Consider the amended Finance Act that on the one hand insists in two of its three clauses on parliamentary approval in advance of giving government guarantees. What then to make of Clause 3 that seems to hand the finance minister a dictator’s freedom to give loan guarantees to anyone he chooses, on whatever conditions he sees fit?
The current prime minister, who was the opposition leader at the time of the 2011 amendment, recently told the House he knew the adjustment had been inspired by the costly Rochamel debacle, therefore he had sat “deliberately silent” while stupidity ruled the House. In other words, he had permitted a self-contradicting law to make its way to the senate and onto our statute books, fully cognizant of the consequences.
Petty, you say? Conniving? Reckless? Vindictive? On the occasion when the bristling prime minister recalled his own deliberate silence, he had also reminded the attendant august body that “the author of ‘Lapses & Infelicities’” had to no avail written several newspaper articles underscoring the flaw in the law.
However convenient was his statement, it was also undeniable that “they amended the law and made it worse!”
Chances are the prime minister knew not that I had also reached out personally to the involved senators and members of the day’s government, perchance to persuade them to do the right thing. There is indeed a process by which laws can be reworded. Indeed, the King government had used it in its attempt to make the original finance act watertight. Oh, but how badly they had failed.
My pleas fell on ears concerned only with foolish consistencies. Everyone I talked to blamed his or her colleague. Even now, although the prime minister has brought the torch of truth to bear on the cited fiasco, there has been no further official word about this affront to the national intelligence.
We move on. Knowing in advance what would be the result, I called Timothy Poleon on-air the other day to ask why, if indeed Jounen Kweyol is as important to the nation as so many bibulous promoters loudly profess, is the language not taught in our schools? Why are there no great kweyol volumes at our main library? Where are our kweyol history books; our kweyol grammar books, kweyol textbooks, kweyol science and math books? Where are the published kweyol novels by Saint Lucian writers, where are the kweyol versions of Man on Monkey Mountain?
I added: “Why are there no kweyol songs on the local hit parade? Why are there no Saint Lucian stars famous for singing only in kweyol? Why no kweyol concerts and tours? Why is Jounen Kweyol treated as just another carnival?
I also took the opportunity to speak up on behalf of the sacrificial hogs so closely associated with the big day!
The reaction was predictable: Rick just eh like our culture. Rick have a Yankee accent. Rick is dis, Rick is dat. No one even attempted to address my questions. Ah, no, someone actually did. He agreed with most of what I’d said and then laid the blame on others who quite likely have never heard of Saint Lucia.
The more things change . . . OK, so last week we talked the talk in the House of Ebola. Let’s move on to the walking the walk. I dare to suggest some meaningful action, if only to inject a little confidence into our people that our concerned government is well-positioned to handle an Ebola-related emergency. Then how about doing for Ebola what we very often do to prove our readiness for other possible disasters?
Let’s pretend the authorities have been given reason to believe a passenger on an airline scheduled to land at Hewanorra might be infected. Let the most serious games begin, with the press in attendance, starting with a simulation of would happen on the aircraft. What about fellow passengers? How would they be prevented from panicking? Would the suspect passenger be quarantined even before the aircraft landed at Hewanorra? How? Do airplanes carry Ebola haberdashery and appropriately trained fitters? Who receives the passenger on arrival? Where do we take him or her? Who foots the medical bill? What if a private hospital or staff at a government facility should refuse to deal with the suspected infected?
Of course this being the Christian Rock of Sages that produced two Nobel winners, I would not be surprised to discover we have an all-purpose response: shut everything down and order the pilot to turn his damn plane around with all its passengers, including returning Saint Lucians from New York where, reportedly, there has been one case of Ebola. All for the common good, of course!