The Party’s Over . . .

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

Hardly a day goes by with­out some­one ac­knowl­edg­ing the need for not only na­tional unity but also for work­ing to­gether re­gion­ally. Noth­ing new, of course. For at least a hun­dred years the writ­ing has been grad­u­ally fad­ing on the wall: Com­bine our ef­forts for the com­mon good—or painfully per­ish one by one or en masse. Not that we are to­tally obliv­i­ous to the hor­rid truth. We are usu­ally quick to com­bine re­lief ef­forts in times of trou­ble. But once we’ve sent the clothes, the bar­rels of food and other es­sen­tials to our broth­ers and sis­ters vic­tim­ized by nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, it’s al­ways back to our own lanes, back to one an­other’s jugu­lars.

For far too long has this been nor­mal life here and else­where in the Caribbean. What is it that prevents us from do­ing what must be done to save our­selves? Even the beasts of the jun­gle de­pend on one an­other for their sur­vival. Few of us would con­sider be­ing called a wolf a com­pli­ment, and yet wolves have be­hav­ior pat­terns we would do well to em­u­late. They hunt in groups whose num­bers vary, de­pen­dent on the cir­cum­stances. They at­tack even the largest li­ons, em­ploy­ing strate­gies that ap­pear al­most mil­i­tary. Fe­males nurse all pup­pies in the pack, re­gard­less of who moth­ered the near-in­sa­tiable lit­tle wolves. Ev­ery ses­sion of our par­lia­ment of­fers fur­ther proof that the last thing on the minds of our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives is the com­mon good. They gloat at ev­ery per­ceived fail­ure by their op­po­sites, al­though it’s the peo­ple—re­gard­less of party af­fil­i­a­tion—who will suf­fer the con­se­quences. Sel­dom are small tri­umphs cel­e­brated to­gether. The op­po­si­tion sel­dom is rep­re­sented at gov­ern­ment func­tions, in much the same way gov­ern­ment MPs steer clear of op­po­si­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

If once upon a time ar­gu­ments and dis­agree­ments were for­got­ten by the end of par­lia­men­tary ses­sions, this is no longer the case. Op­pos­ing sides re­main locked in a per­pet­ual war with one an­other’s cir­cus-mir­ror re­flec­tions, and fully ex­pect­ing re­spec­tive sup­port­ers to demon­strate their ha­tred as proof of their loy­alty.

As I watched last week the usual tragi­com­edy that passes here for par­lia­men­tary de­bate, I won­dered whether there was an un­writ­ten code that prevents our politi­cians from use­fully dis­cussing real life is­sues. We seem con­cerned only with the im­me­di­ate present, obliv­i­ous of the sad fact that our im­me­di­ate present is more of­ten than not the dis­tant past every­where else. It is true that politi­cians in more de­vel­oped coun­tries also have their dif­fer­ences, of­ten blown out of pro­por­tion by the ever-present, not al­ways well-in­ten­tioned me­dia. But even in Trum­p­land there are the fol­low-up apolo­gies, how­ever rare. There are mean­ing­ful in­ves­ti­ga­tions. The peo­ple get jus­tice, al­beit not all of the time.

Not here. Lo­cal politi­cians refuse time af­ter time to with­draw egre­gious in­sults hurled from op­po­site sides of the House, for the pet­ti­est of rea­sons. Ev­ery call for ac­count­abil­ity on be­half of the peo­ple is met with jeers, in­sult­ing re­marks, counter ac­cu­sa­tions; a dec­la­ra­tion of war!

The coun­try never wins. As 2018—with its un­de­ni­able re­sem­blance to last year and the sev­eral other pre­vi­ous years—comes to an end we have more rea­son not to ex­pect re­lief any time soon. Ev­er­chang­ing of­fi­cial poli­cies in the United States, the UK and the rest of Europe threaten to bury us deeper into the graves we’ve been dig­ging for our­selves for as long as most of us can re­mem­ber. We have never been a peo­ple con­cerned with pre­par­ing for rainy days, self-con­vinced as we are that some god will do for us what we’ve stub­bornly re­fused to do for our­selves!

We mur­der one an­other mostly for rea­sons un­known, of­ten in con­se­quence of booze-fu­eled mean­ing­less ar­gu­ments. Our po­lice force is, for rea­sons that were wholly avoid­able, at war with it­self— too busy pro­tect­ing self to worry about the lives of other peo­ple and their prop­erty. Our churches have lost their voice and cred­i­bil­ity. Our young peo­ple, over­loaded as they are with all va­ri­eties of frus­tra­tion, and seem­ingly with­out pos­i­tive out­lets, are on the ram­page. We hear al­most daily of help­less lit­tle chil­dren be­ing abused in the worst way, with no res­cue in sight: even as we lift the age of con­sent from 16 to 18, preg­nant eight-year-olds have be­come the norm in our self­cre­ated hell, so com­mon­place as to be un­wor­thy of com­ment. Young boys not yet teenagers are easy fod­der for mis­cre­ants un­con­cerned about pos­si­ble ret­ri­bu­tion.

You get the point, dear pa­tient reader: the prob­lems listed here will not, and can­not be solved by their in­ven­tors. We alone—shoul­der to shoul­der and soul to soul—can turn things around. Alas, we re­turn to our worst af­flic­tion: our ev­i­dent un­will­ing­ness (in­abil­ity?) to tackle the com­mon en­emy to­gether!

When will our elected par­lia­men­tar­i­ans re­al­ize their un­end­ing in­ternecine wars al­ways pro­duce the same ca­su­al­ties: we the peo­ple?

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