I’VE just finished reading Amy Klobuchar’s book “The Senator Next Door” in which she gave an account of her early family life and her climb to Minnesota’s senior Senator, in the United States Senate. For my part it was an interesting read although the Senator had reserved the gem and absolute touch stone of her account, to the last pages – the Epilogue. There, she related an account of a family visit to Slovenia, the home of her ancestors, and the story of a writer who was dying of cancer and who decided to write her own obituary to leave behind for her children. In it she left behind this wisdom: ‘May you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path’.
This bit of wisdom may not come as a total surprise to those who have had the benefit of wise counsel from parents, guardians, teachers and enlightened religion. Perceptive parents and guardians teach children to ‘stay the course, and not give up easily without effort – learning to surmount hurdles’. Whatever the challenges, teachers teach patience and more regular study in order to overcome difficulties, while gifted priests, pastors and religious leaders teach the infinite wisdom that count obstacles as tests, which faith and grace can help overcome. Such obstacles are the path which leads to the place (the destination), that God desires for us – even for those whose faith is yet to be fully developed.
On reflection, obstacles can seem a blessing. Getting through them is the difficult part. It takes courage, patience and forbearance to get through a path strewn with obstacles. Not surprisingly, the more difficult the obstacles, the more physical and/or emotional pain they inflict, the sweeter and greater the reward or blessing. One emerges from such obstacles chastened and cleansed – a new person seeing his or her journey as unique and interesting and not as it was previously perceived. A mind wrought with fear, anger and misgivings can often misinterpret obstacles. The road of life is never without obstacles. They are the path and one continues to walk even where no one has walked before and where obstacles abound – such is the path to a fulfilling life – and solutions discovering.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that many seniors who read this could give vivid examples in which obstacles led them to a better and more secure place than they were before they encountered such obstacles. From my own experience I can truthfully say that the many obstacles that had been thrown in my path, some deliberate and malicious, have led me to where I am today, enjoying a fairly quiet and peaceful life and reasonably good health. Looking back I see few of my former nemesis among the living. It is as if God had cleared the obstacles one at a time and gave me the courage to stay focused and keep on the path, as He cleared each obstacle away. Still, I do not carry my faith or my religion on my sleeves, exposing them to vulgar eyes, as I do my politics. And at the mention of politics let me digress a moment to say how happy and proud the delegates at last Sunday’s convention of the United Workers Party made me feel, by the way they cast their ballots. It was the fair and correct thing to do. One hopes and prays that the political leader can finally bind the party together with the willing, who are finally prepared to recognize him as their duly elected political leader.
He has little time to waste. The first order of business is to help those who opposed him find a path through the obstacles that stood in their way. He must take into account the considerable sensitivities, and in some cases calculated mischief, prompted from without, that aims to keep his party divided and in opposition. Compromises may be on the cards but how far he goes to placate his foes and overcome obstacles will depend on his estimate of its worth to the party and country. It’s better to make war with a weak and united force, than with a strong but divided outfit. Perhaps he should begin where Compton and Giraudy left off, by having in-depth discussions with his chairman so as to chart a new path, and to clear obstacles in the path of a UWP victory, at the next polls. No person who does not wholeheartedly support the leader should be a candidate. No man is bigger than the party or the political leader and chairman of the party.
The political leader must caucus as soon as possible with senior stalwarts of the party, to canvass their views on matters of party and national interests, perhaps making an informal social evening out of that gathering. Before his first executive meeting he should also caucus with his new executive for informal talks to brief them on the role each is expected to play in winning the next elections. Helping Saint Lucia climb out of the deep ditch into which this clueless boys, pretending to be ‘men at work’ has placed it is no easy task.
The present social and economic situation in the island demands that the three annual baby steps which the political leader of the UWP has taken since 2013, be now strengthened and lengthened into more bold, thoughtful and calculated steps. He has to win the hearts and minds of a national constituency, including those UWP’s who had voted New Labour in the past. The political leader must endeavour with a sincere and genuine heart to bring as many dissident elements of his party together again. He must find the courage to speak one on one to every person who needs his attention and must do whatever he thinks is correct to get ‘his’ candidates in place within the shortest possible time. In this he must have the full support of the new chairman of the party. So too must he seek the continuous support and input of his two deputy political leaders. In the meantime he must select three able persons to canvas members on the priorities for the party’s election manifesto.
He must do all these things even as he demands that there ought not to be any press releases or public statements of any kind, from anyone, unless and until such releases are approved by himself, the chairman and at least one deputy political leader. The rules ought to be spelt out again and a conference of delegates called if needs be in early 2016, to strengthen the hands of the political leader and chairman where this is deemed necessary, to help unite and bring greater discipline to the party. If he does all these things and does them to the best of his ability, a still larger and more difficult task awaits him.
It is to bring the people of Saint Lucia together as one, under God, working to pull it from its social and economic decline. ‘Hard labour’ with its lies and excessive taxes, has no place else to turn. The attack on skin colour has not worked. The ‘Creole’ barrier did not work, so the last card: a spoilt boy who runs to daddy when his toys are broken and who spent too much when he was Minister. Ha-ha, imagine that! Who does this cap best fit? I mean the over-spending or unwise expenditure.
A united (UWP) Government working steadfastly and guided by integrity, is a sure guarantee to overcome obstacles in the path to progress. It will take a strong and united government to undo the bad work of New Labour exposing the IMPACS report, the oil deal signing, (Grynberg), the appointments of total foreigners of unproven ability, to an international forum in this island’s name, among others. A new Prime Minister will do well to remember ‘that obstacles are the path.’ Overcoming them is bound to lead to an improvement in this island’s social and economic regeneration and a happier future for all.