When did liv­ing in par­adise be­come so ex­pen­sive?

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

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.