The Party’s Over . . .
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?