IT is certainly not surprising that despite the Nobel Laureate Festival passing its halfway mark this week organizers continue to beg the indulgence of larger audiences. That hue and cry has been the norm for years and popularized by Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, who chairs the Nobel Laureate Festival Committee. After years of pleading, her best appeals for support have become a hoarse voice amidst the noise.
Over the years, the receding tide regarding public interest in national affairs has affected the process of engaging citizens in a big way. Quite often, citizens are the very inhibiting factors to their own – and by extension, the national — development through their indifference to celebrating the nuggets that make them shine. In the end, scandals, crime, political corruption and tearing each other’s reputation down became the festering norms.
Recently, the phrases “national pride” and “patrimony” have been championed – at least vocally – in protest of a major touristic development in Vieux Fort. Many find it heartless that the government would simply sign away the people’s land to foreign investors at the stroke of a pen. Others believe that Saint Lucians are fast becoming second-class citizens at the behest of foreigners waving dollar bills to stake claim here and get a passport.
What is bewildering, however, is that these very people seem to find their voices only when what they have is at risk of being taken away. It’s as if they never appreciate the value of what we have until someone else finds favour in it. As if by some tacit endorsement among the citizenry, indifference has become the national pastime when it comes to true pride in country.
It seems so comforting for many to beat their chests and proclaim Sirs Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott icons of excellence whenever a moment of showing superiority calls for it. However, that lip service rarely translates into any tangible support for these laureates’ work. So while organizers are tirelessly begging corporate sponsors for donations to fund the festival, it seems that citizens have other important matters to take care of rather than attend the events which to date have generally been dismal in terms of numbers.
That our country has become so enticed with the practice of seeing each other fail as opposed to singing praises to those whose lives were built on lifting us up speaks volumes of unflattering superlatives about us. Why should we always have to depend on the dictates and actions of external forces to send us into forced resolve in appreciating what is ours? How can we truly say that we are from the land where two Nobel laureates proved to the world their worth in gold when we devalue them by rewarding them with scant regard?
In a few weeks, Independence activities will be observed and the indifference will repeat itself: same old chapter in a dusty old book that continues to write us down in history as citizens who never seem to recognize the best among us until the worst surfaces.