Par­ti­san Pol­i­tics Will Be The Death Of Us!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By

Cuth­bert Di­dier

To sin by si­lence when we should protest makes cow­ards of men.

Since 2008, Saint Lucia has been en­gulfed in a tail­spin of harsh eco­nomic times, lim­it­ing direct in­vest­ment and un­leash­ing a fo­cus on pol­i­tics rather than on eco­nomics. All this time—2008— dis­course has been lim­ited to the rhetoric of the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, red and yel­low.

In a coun­try that pride­fully claims it fought for its In­de­pen­dence, there ap­pears to be no ob­vi­ous ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the in­de­pen­dent thinker. That is to say, the thinker who wishes to de­bate, even dis­cuss so­lu­tions while stay­ing clear of par­ti­san pol­i­tics. There ap­pears to be no room here for apo­lit­i­cal would-be con­trib­u­tors who refuse to play by the rules of par­ti­san pol­i­tics; who refuse to buy into the stul­ti­fy­ing no­tion that the party is ev­ery­thing, en­ter­tained on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide.

The in­de­pen­dent thinker is be­sieged by the party faith­ful. He or she dare not of­fer a word of ad­vice with­out the risk of be­ing smeared, ridiculed or threat­ened. And the dam­age rises as we fo­cus on the pol­i­tics of ev­ery is­sue rather than the eco­nomic chal­lenges and real so­lu­tions. No is­sue is left free of po­lit­i­cal con­tam­i­na­tion: crime, ed­u­ca­tion, for­eign direct in­vest­ment, tourism, agri­cul­ture—even cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties must now be painted red or yel­low.

How shock­ing that this is how we deal with the most crit­i­cal of our time. There can be no dis­course with­out some­one bring­ing up the pos­si­ble im­pact on elec­tions. There will be a price to pay for such mad­ness; we are al­ready pay­ing, whether or not we are will­ing to ac­knowl­edge this fact.

Those of us who pride our­selves as be­ing in­de­pen­dent thinkers, for the sake of our present and fu­ture must stand up now and shout: Enough, we can have no more of this in­san­ity! We must step up and de­mand that our voices be heard. Start­ing to­day, we must face the harsh truth that par­ti­san pol­i­tics is killing what chances our coun­try has of mov­ing out of the swamp that now threat­ens us all: thinkers as well as hacks.

We must as a na­tion be will­ing to em­brace in­de­pen­dent thinkers who, ad­mit­tedly, are not al­ways right. We pre­tend to cel­e­brate them; we hear them. But do we really per­mit our­selves to lis­ten to what they are say­ing? Do we al­low our­selves to fully grasp what they write or have writ­ten?

I’m re­fer­ring to such as Sir Arthur Lewis, Derek Wal­cott, Rick Wayne, Harold Simmons. I could in­clude oth­ers. In 2016 let us awaken from this self-im­posed si­lence; let us de­cide now no longer to be shame­ful cow­ards. Let us en­cour­age in our fel­low cit­i­zens that in­de­pen­dence of the spirit, in­de­pen­dence of thought, so that we can cre­ate new strate­gies and poli­cies for deal­ing with this daunt­ing present that’s des­tined to grow much worse un­less we con­front it to­gether.

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