When did living in paradise become so expensive?
It is possible for a person to be in two places at once. It is also entirely plausible that same person can feel the need to be somewhere only because they are somewhere else. Weren’t we the ones who gave meaning to the whole “grass is greener” ideology? Still we are surprised to discover that all we really needed was a little water.
We do all eventually get to the point where we realize that contentment has more to do with how we choose to feel about what we have or where we are than with anything else. I found this out for myself recently, after two years in Toronto. Half of my time there was spent exploring the expansive abundance of a socalled First World environment; the other half I spent in a state of panic as to what my next move would be once I’d completed my studies.
I fed myself countless reasons why returning to my little rock of an island would be my worst ever decision. Other people’s ideas encouraged my thinking: “There’s nothing out there . . . You’re not going to want to stay once you’re back.”
My island was far from perfect. But then so was I. I need add that it has become all too common for young people to leave home in favour of strange, allegedly greener pastures. Often they return to their birthplace with the minds of vacationers, promising themselves to resettle only upon retirement.
Of course most people are free to make their choices. However, they would do well to ask themselves what future can their homeland have when most of its young population, its presumed future leaders, can hardly wait to desert?
If all that young Saint Lucians fantasize about is “a better life” in a country about which they know next to nothing, then how will living conditions on this island improve? Who will do something salutary about the crime, the blatant corruption, the unconscionable disregard for human life that continues to plague the land that gave us birth, regardless of what party is in office? Not the old people you left behind, surely.
I wrote from a distance about Saint Lucia’s recurring problems, feeling the associated hurt as if I were still domiciled there. Not being able to investigate the issues as I used to when I worked there as a journalist left me feeling, well, like a traitor. A debilitating feeling.
I missed sitting with people in distress. Voiceless people, people who wanted little more than some reassurance that someone cared. I missed so much putting their sometimes heart-wrenching stories before those who would pretend they do not exist. Yes, while the convenient doubters enjoyed their bacon and eggs or whatever sources of killer cholesterol they ingested at breakfast. Even they were human, with souls, however rust-encrusted. I wanted them to feel even a little bit of the pain that so many other Saint Lucians live with daily.
I recently returned home, eager to share my big-city experiences. I’d been keeping in close contact with STAR publisher Rick Wayne and one of my first stops was at the offices of the newspaper I had worked with since I was 17 years old. I wanted my old job back; terms were negotiated. The interview went beautifully, then I returned home with a sinking feeling that I could not dismiss. It had been barely a week since my return home and I was having a hard time readjusting.
So much had changed, including the government. But so much had remained the same. I couldn’t help thinking about things that had been beyond my power to change: the fate of a particular individual who came to my office at the STAR seeking help in getting on a witness protection programme. His appeals had fallen on ears that were effectively dead. And soon he, too, was dead.
On my return to work from vacation I learned the man had been fatally shot and his teenage son badly wounded— by the very people from whom he had sought police protection. I’ve still not gotten over that nightmare.
It is completely absurd to know that we live in a place where such things happen, unmentioned even by the press. Quite frankly, the Saint Lucia I came back to is one scary place. The daily horrors seem to affect me worse than I remembered.
The recent sudden death of banker Andy Delmar; the drive-by shootings; the multiple murder cases; the unceasing rapes; the burglaries and robberies . . . somehow it seems our people have grown accustomed to all of that and accept it as regular living in Saint Lucia. Did something once alive in us also die unnoticed?
I made up every excuse for my immobilizing fear. Heck, I even invented a reason not to jump carnival!
Some will argue that what I seem to be complaining about also occurs in the US, in Canada, the UK and elsewhere. At least the terrorists have not shown up . . . yet. We are - we’ve always been - quick to dismiss, defend, even justify the especially bad and ugly while under-appreciating the good. Surely that could never have been normal.
Am I wrong about that too?
Life on the streets of Castries is not always as portrayed to the tourists.