After 44 years of independence, we continue to evolve as a nation. One thing we are hearing in these times is much rhetoric reflective of who we are, who we are to be, and who we are not to be.
While many lament a loss of behaviors and values we used to hold dear in times past, others are of the view that modernity and ‘up -to -datedness’ calls for things more in line with what they perceive as regionally relevant, in line with black identity, or global and trendy. We are a young, small nation. But our minds can be as big as we choose to have them be and, our resolve to be high quality and exemplary – focused and fixed. Proper leadership and models are therefore essential. Moral and uncompromised systems and processes now more crucial than ever.
People in small island states such as ours suffer many a time from quite inaccurate ideas as to how life in the bigger world is. Travelling and experience overseas for our people are thus crucial to a more accurate understanding of the world and how life operates in more diverse and bigger societies.
There are more sources than ever nowadays however available to Vincentians, from which they may be influenced by and exposed to life in the bigger world. Along with the many positives which these may offer, the internet, social media and cable tv, can provide inaccurate portrayals, extreme behaviors and cause skewed perceptions of reality and what is valuable. These have sadly evidenced themselves in negatively shaping Vincyness in ways threatening some of our most valuable attributes as a people and nation.
Comparison is one of the biggest killers of creativity. It is one of the most destructive threats to maximizing the potential of minds operating in such a small island community as ours. Too much remote exposure to the outer world without critical thinking, and basing success on wanting to be like others that are idolized are plagues to the emergence of better and the retaining of the best in our identity. Our art, music and thus our culture becomes cheapened. It is important for the Vincentian to understand this. Our Vincyness is in danger when it is a forced response to idolized non-Vincyness and not a focus on being better than who we already are right here for us. But seeing who we positively are as legitimate and valuable is first essential and necessary towards this. This eliminates the need to compare as well as it causes us to choose better models for our emulation.
When one thinks about how much we have been wholesale adopting and accepting from other nearby countries, it leaves one to
question why we have been so willing to take all the – I dare to say – poisonous baits. While adopting the worse in entertainment in the region surrounding us, we feed and empower the sources of these while sabotaging our own beauty and values. Don’t we realize that there are things which defined us that need to be urgently preserved and protected? Our Vincentian youth have been fed so much filth over recent decades through the music industry for instance, in our minivans and from social media, that it leaves us to question why such choices are being made and why our legislators have been acting so weakly. Can an answer to this be that we have so far since independence been unable to find more security or value in our own Vincyness? So much so, that we are trying to emulate and act like our deteriorating surrounding foreign nations. Nations that are immoral in the lyric of their cheap songs they have been feeding us, and with societies full of vagrants, illegal drugs, ammunition and crime. Indeed, our local saying is true. ‘Follow fashin dog mus ketch mangie.’ Is this where Vincyness is coming to after over 40 years of independence with no master’s whips any longer on our backs? Are we happy to squander our earned freedom and dignity as a country like this? We can no longer blame some oppressing colonizer for these.
Another situation which is threatening Vincyness sadly are behaviors and cultural elements which are supposed to be responses to perceived European domination, control and values. It is become common for some Vincentians to demand that order, dignified and poised behavior, proper manners, punctuality and appropriate demeanor as no longer in line with being Vincentian and identifying as being black. To be such is somehow evidence that we are still in bondage and under European rule and it is now time to be unmanaged, unsupervised, unregulated, inappropriate, common, lewd and rude. How sad and ignorant this is with regard to how all humans best thrive in successful and organized civilizations and communities.
Europe has partly shaped us whether we are humble enough to admit it or not. They have been a legitimate part of our history and have laid many a foundation on which we still stand and continue to build on. We cannot go back and change negative history. And it is time we celebrate the good chapters and they become equally legitimate and inspirational to us. Slavery is not our complete history. It is the most tragic part and should never become the most celebrated. We need to reach further back into the chapters where our surer foundations lie. However, many still cannot understand their place in the world apart from that they are the descendant of an oppressed set of ancestors.
This is a level of emancipation yet to be achieved in this country. This is a hard reality staring us in the face when we look at even operations in organized institutions which are the biggest shapers of our communities and societies. Institutions such as churches, schools, government ministries, public service and sadly even our local law enforcement.
We also see this damage playing out in how individuals are operating in business with each other. Vincentians are more ambitious these days than ever about their small business ventures and the offering of skilled services to their fellow countrymen. However, there is a tendency to see rip-offs and substandard work for easy money as evidence of good business. This is not only a gross abuse of freedom, but subtle evidence of self-hate. This is the choosing to treat a brother with the same inferiority we suffered from at the hands of the slave masters of times past. Our customers are our own. Black on black hatred, envy, jealousy which kept back progress in societies such as ours for too long. It is time to hold ourselves accountable and deal fairly and justly with our own. Deliver quality with pride and wait patiently for the success and financial gain we envision. Proper customer service and the fair delivery of goods and services is not for foreign visitors only. It is for the fellow Vincentian first and foremost.
As we head to 45, these are some of the considerations that the shapers and influencers of St.Vincent and the Grenadines must reflect on and factor into their plans and goals for the future of our people and country. May these also be a big part in the curricula of the education revolution being spoken of as we study how best to define and nurture positively our evolving Vincyness. And, as individuals let us have a clear view of who we truly ought to be.