Posted On: Sunday, 15 January 2012
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Until fairly recently, we had an innocence about ourselves in the Caribbean, but that’s been lost. This thing is a Pandora’s Box and I’m not sure you can ever close it again. — Marcus Day, Director of the Caribbean Drug and Alcohol Research Institute, St Lucia.
A Peaceful Caribbean: To some like Marcus Day, this may sound like an oxymoron, to some this may sound like a dream never to be realized; to some it may simply be considered a pie in the sky, and to others simply the unattainable. As I said my prayers last evening, I added a special section. I added a section that I hadn’t added in years, for some reason I had lost some faith in humanity. I prayed not only for the success of the Peaceful Caribbean Conference (http://www.peacefulcaribbean.com/) that would be held in Barbados on 20th April, 2012, but most importantly I prayed that God would ignite that burning passion for change within the Caribbean region that I have seen in Rebecca Theodore, Barry Randall, Horace Williams, Linda Petrusi, and Ethelbert Benjamin Jr. Persons with whom I have been dialoguing with about the Conference. I can say that when I was invited to be a panelist I was overjoyed. I was happy to be a part of an initiative geared towards restoring peace within the region.
For those of you who are not aware the theme of the Peaceful Caribbean Conference is Focus on the Solutions. The vision of the conference is to have the Caribbean region regain its rightful place in the world as a peaceful and stable place. The mission is to reestablish the perceptions and realities of the Caribbean region as a peaceful and stable place for residents and visitors alike. The objective of the conference is to successfully execute a Peaceful Caribbean Conference, which produces and activates at the end, an action plan for establishing a Peaceful Caribbean Initiative.
I can now say that after becoming acquainted with the organizers of this very important initiative that I have every confidence that their minds and most importantly their hearts are in the right place. In them, I sense the need to see a Peaceful Caribbean. In them, I sense the need to save our region. In them, I sense the need to save it if not for us but for the future generation. I can tell you that this raw and genuine passion, a passion for change, a vision of peace not for a particular native country but rather for an entire region is something that I have not witnessed in years. I don’t get the sense that there is a need to execute a successful conference but rather that this Peaceful Caribbean Conference would indeed result in change. I sense that there is the hope that participants would return to their native islands and begin to effect change.
As I noted in past years I have had reason to question humanity. In past years I have allowed myself to get bogged down by the naysayers when I have had an idea or dream. The question is always why you. You are only one person. Why are you always out to save somebody or something? When you are busy saving everybody who is going to save you? Do you think that you can really make a difference? The problems and ills of the world were here before you came and they will be here long after you are gone. I have been told, “Mind your business, do your time and when St. Peter calls your name, just clock out and bounce.” I can recall years ago being told by a rather well known and respected lady in my native land, “You are young, still innocent, so I will forgive your idealism, when you get older you will surely realize that in the world your living especially in St. Kitts and Nevis, that there is no room for people like you. Idealism is dead and gone with people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. I pray for your sake that you realize this sooner than later.” Over the years it’s sad to say that I have heard the same sentiments echoed, and I became withdrawn. I am so happy that Rebecca Theodore, Barry Randall and the folks at Caribbean News Now, did not say why us, but rather they said why not us. I am happy to say that after speaking with them a passion and fire that once waned has now been reignited.
A year ago when I listened to a young lady who I admire greatly, Ms. Jihan Williams, speaking of her life’s purpose on my sister’s Julie’s radio show, there was a glimmer of hope. I said therein lies a social activist, therein lies someone who possess the acumen and will to effect social change. This is what we need as a people, but unfortunately she echoed the same sentiments that I heard years ago, that persons were asking ‘why her’ and from what I gleaned she was asking herself well “why not me?” She was determined to fulfill her life’s purpose, and to this I say Jihan “nuff respect.” I couldn’t help but wonder whether this was the reason that we are in the state that we are currently in. It is not only because we lack that drive to effect social change but rather because we are so quick to douse the flame or even a spark in those who want to make a difference. We are quick to criticize those who truly and passionately care about the welfare of others, those who care about the welfare of their country, the region and overall humanity. I ask if we all adopt this attitude of minding our own business, or every jack man for ‘himself,’ what really would become of us? If we all try to pull down the very people who are trying to build and restore our country, I ask again what would become of us. We would continue to perish, and yes we are perishing.
Last year, I attended a lecture by the author and former Editor-in-Chief of Essence magazine, Susan Taylor. Her father hails from St. Kitts. Her lecture was on “Love,” but she couldn’t help but try to convey a strong message to her West Indian audience. She was deeply concerned about the state of the Caribbean. She noted that we as a people ought to be the change that we want to see. She said that the solution to our social ills was human contact. It required planting dreams in the hearts and minds of our young. She provided simple solutions. This didn’t take money she said, and one solution was the fact that we open our churches for prayer group, and prayer meetings, often targeting the members of our church, but what about keeping the church doors open for an hour or two after school so that children may have a place to wait until their parent/guardian arrived from work. This didn’t take money it just required a little time. Most importantly she said that we shouldn’t sit idly by and wait for the government to take the lead especially when it comes to social issues.
And might I add that I get so passionate when I am accused of playing curry-favor with the government; “oh she from St. Paul’s…she is a Labour…what else you could expect…as if I have no sense...” if you can comprehend correctly I am not saying that the government does not have a role in combating crime or reducing social ills, but that the community needs to play a much larger role. Do forgive me because, “I don’t know how else to spell it out or translate it.” Peace starts in the hearts and minds of man, that’s not my adage. It is the premise under which the United Nations was found, to establish peace in the hearts and minds of man. Can this be affected by the government and social policies? Of course not! This requires people like Rebecca Theodore, and Jihan Williams and all others who are in a capacity to do so to reach out and make change.
The solution for a Peaceful Caribbean lies in each of us. This requires a stop to what I have heard Jihan term as a “fight down” mentality. This requires us to be planters of dreams and the possibilities, and not dashers of hope. This requires our correcting and ‘stop washing out we mouth on people children’ and rejoicing in the downfall of our neighbors, family and friends. This requires putting a stop to the spread of the venom hatred, which we pass on to the very children who go out and become perpetrators of crimes and all of the social ills. Ms. Theodore I can truly say that as my thoughts have rambled on, I now realize that the answer to a Peaceful Caribbean is a simple one, it requires restoring kindness, compassion, and every other noble principle in the hearts and minds of every Caribbean child, woman, and man.