Talk­ing alone was never a match for con­struc­tive ac­tion!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Peter Josie

Those of us who grew up in Saint Lu­cia when young peo­ple were taught that it was prefer­able to be silent, to lis­ten, and to do as we were told, never for­got the les­son. To­day, when we see oth­ers speak­ing out of turn, who demon­strate over and over that they are bet­ter talk­ers than do­ers, we re­mem­ber our par­ents with grat­i­tude. We take it for granted that peo­ple who speak to de­ceive, or who lack fac­tual in­for­ma­tion, are vic­tims of a cer­tain kind of par­ent­ing and coach­ing. Be­ing a poor lis­tener has al­ways been viewed as bad man­ners or an at­tempt to mask ig­no­rance and ag­gres­sion.

Through­out a child’s school life the code of si­lence, ob­serv­ing and lis­ten­ing, was rig­or­ously en­forced as part of school dis­ci­pline. Pun­ish­ment at school was more likely to fol­low an in­frac­tion of the rule of not speak­ing in class, un­less ad­dress­ing the teacher. It there­fore fol­lowed that by age seven many chil­dren had learned that speech is sil­ver and si­lence golden. Chil­dren seemed to know which of the two met­als was the more pre­cious. The re­luc­tance of the av­er­age Saint Lu­cian to speak his or her mind freely and openly may well have its ge­n­e­sis in the strict and early rules of si­lence learned at home and at school. These rules were not re­laxed even after some chil­dren were old enough to join in a fam­ily con­ver­sa­tion. I’ve of­ten won­dered at what age chil­dren ac­quired more knowl­edge than their par­ents sus­pected, about the science of re­pro­duc­tion or of fam­ily se­crets.

Too of­ten, anger and re­sent­ment were al­lowed to fester in place of sin­cere ex­changes and open­ness that al­lowed love to flour­ish. It would there­fore not sur­prise me to dis­cover hid­den anger in some peo­ple who speak of­ten, es­pe­cially when they lie. Ex­pe­ri­ence teaches us that such an­gry per­sons are im­pa­tient with truth. They tend to re­volt against all in­for­ma­tion that does not meet their sub­jec­tive stan­dard. Such per­sons are likely to clas­sify in­for­ma­tion they would rather avoid as lies, even when the con­trary ev­i­dence is over­whelm­ing.

In the modern era some per­sons are paid to speak and in­flu­ence oth­ers with false mes­sages. It does not mat­ter whether these mes­sages are re­li­gious, com­mer­cial or po­lit­i­cal. What­ever the agenda, the con­stant chat­ter aims at cap­tur­ing our at­ten­tion and in­flu­enc­ing us to be­lieve in false­hood and lies. Liars in­tend to per­suade the rest of us to lis­ten and to be­lieve their lies, for their own ben­e­fit. Thank­fully, the av­er­age Saint Lu­cian seems more will­ing to lis­ten to peo­ple who can im­prove their lives. They have dis­cov­ered that fac­tual in­for­ma­tion can help to lift the hu­man spirit by al­ways pro­vid­ing ver­i­fi­able in­for­ma­tion, re­gard­less of the topic.

What­ever the choice they make be­tween speech and si­lence, those who serve the na­tion in high of­fice will do well to re­mem­ber the words of the philoso­pher in the Book of Ec­cle­si­astes, in Holy Writ, Chap­ter Three, ‘A Time for Ev­ery­thing.’ Yes in­deed, there is a time for si­lence and a time for speak­ing out, es­pe­cially when the lat­ter has been in­spired by knowl­edge and a com­mit­ment to grow a peo­ple so­cially, eco­nom­i­cally and spir­i­tu­ally. There­fore, let those who know of what they speak be en­cour­aged to do so in or­der to shed light in the per­va­sive dark­ness, wherein evil-do­ers and ped­dlers of hate seem de­ter­mined to keep the sons and daugh­ters of Saint Lu­cia.

The re­cent tweak in Cabi­net port­fo­lios by the prime min­is­ter may be seen as a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. But it needs to be fur­ther ex­plained. We are in­formed that the mi­nor changes are to even­tu­ate in ma­jor im­prove­ments in the de­liv­ery of gov­ern­ment ser­vices. The spo­ken word must now be ex­panded to ex­plain the Cabi­net changes, and how they will ben­e­fit the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia. One of the more re­mark­able lessons that have been learnt from the for­mer gov­ern­ment is its si­lence, os­ten­si­bly on be­half of suc­cess. These lessons are re­mark­able be­cause it was the for­mer gov­ern­ment that in­tro­duced the word trans­parency into the lo­cal po­lit­i­cal dic­tio­nary. In op­po­si­tion, the for­mer gov­ern­ment had all the an­swers; in gov­ern­ment, they had an op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain their ac­tions but they fell woe­fully short. They turned out to be the most se­cre­tive politi­cians ever to ad­min­is­ter the busi­ness of this coun­try.

The most re­cent ex­am­ple of how well the peo­ple have learnt the les­son of si­lence ver­sus talk is the rev­e­la­tion of the Desert Star Hold­ings (DSH) project at Vieux Fort. An in­creas­ing num­ber of Saint Lu­cians from all walks of life now be­lieve that had the cur­rent op­po­si­tion won the last gen­eral elec­tions, the DSH project would have had the gov­ern­ment’s un­bri­dled sup­port. The Maria Islets off Vieux Fort would have been con­nected to the main­land and no dog would bark. New ho­tels would be ris­ing on re­claimed lands be­tween the islets and the main­land and no one would lose sleep over any lizards. The SLP hacks and other hyp­ocrites would have pro­moted the DSH project as “Vieux Fort’s time to shine”. And who would dare op­pose jobs for the peo­ple of the south?

Any­one who dared to speak against the DSH project un­der Labour would have been threat­ened and la­belled an en­emy of progress. Words would have been used by Teo Ah Khings “dear­est prime min­is­ter” in his usu­ally cun­ning and di­a­bol­i­cal style to de­value any op­po­si­tion to his DSH baby. It gives me great plea­sure that more Saint Lu­cians be­lieve that the DSH project would be at full steam un­der a Labour gov­ern­ment, whether or not they were able to com­plete the un­fin­ished sym­phony.

The au­thor sug­gests that had Kenny Anthony (pic­tured) won the 2016 gen­eral elec­tions, he and his fol­low­ers would’ve moved heaven and earth in their to­tal com­mit­ment to the pro­posed Desert Star Hold­ings project.

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