Letters & Opinion

The More Things Change

The Editor:
This is the final part of the 1980 speech by Claudia Carasco-Johnson, Resident Tutor, Extra-Mural Department, University of the West Indies:

“The foregoing statement should in no sense become construed as a chauvinistic prescription. On the contrary, it is a valid statement in that a confused and divided society can barely attend to its own basic needs, far less make a useful contribution beyond its shores. (Hmm… where does that leave a warring, devious, scheming one?) All genuine feelings of community begin at home, extending in a series of concentric circles to the school, the city, and so onto the Nation, the region and the wider World.

“And this, in a nutshell, is the nature of the challenge facing the Family Life Educator and the Civics Instructor, as well as those of you who may, at some later date, engage in advanced research. (Civics Instructor? Surely, our schools, our young people, our society, our future, would be all the better for including this in the school curriculum. But no such luck!)

“I am persuaded that we, in St Lucia, have the talent and the resources at our disposal to put such a programme into effect – the only element missing is the opportunity. (Be careful! After all, there’s STEP and NICE, and isn’t there SMILE, too? Lots of opportunity!)

“Although we are still groping our way along the rocky path of full self-government, I am, frankly, impressed by the calm and dignified manner in which most St Lucians have faced the travails, disappointments, and uncertainties of the post-independence period (not to talk of ‘Plyshit’ city and its red faeces mongers. Thank Heavens I was a great distance away in the Far East.) – impressed, but not really surprised – for it would be a tragic irony, would it not, if on attaining the status of Nationhood, we were to lose our sense of community.

“For make no mistake about it – it is very largely this underlying feeling of community that has held the country together during these difficult times. This country has, truly, set a solid example of tolerance for its leaders to follow. (I’m afraid it does not work that way any longer. ‘Leaders’ and ‘tolerance’ just do not go together, and it would seem that the majority of folks are happy to learn from the leaders and adopt their shameful examples).

“And it should, by now, be clearly understood that, while we may hold our differing points of view, there is absolutely no room for hostility and deep, searing divisions on this little postage-stamp of an island. (Ha! A whole integrated industry has been set up to produce the official ways and means employed by the brainboxes to do the toxic work of further dividing our community, our society. It is so sad).

“St Lucia and St Lucians would be the only losers.

“The speaker continues her address by welcoming the graduates, by virtue of their training and acquired resources, to the venerable body of Educators and Communicators which is (or is supposed to be) the Teaching Profession”.

She says: The skills which you have been so meticulously cultivating during this period are of paramount importance in an age when everyone is talking but few are communicating. We rejoice with you today in your attainment of this worthy goal and remind you that yours is the sacred trust of transmitting the codes and standards, the faith, hopes and dreams of the St Lucian people to their tender offspring, and inspiring them to take up the challenges of a new generation. We all hope and trust that you will execute this charge wisely and well. In a very real sense, you are the foundation stones of our new, struggling, little Nation. (Do you hear that, teachers? Indeed you are, and you have a voice. You need to find it for the future of St Lucia).

Happily, from what I have observed on my visits to your College and in my discussions with you, I am confident that the surge of optimism, the lifting of the spirits that we have all experienced here this afternoon, are well founded and solidly based, so that even in this hour of National trauma and deep uncertainty, we can, in the words of the Jamaican Sociologist/Poet, M.G. Smith, celebrate together with this song of hope:

I saw my land in the morning
And O but she was fair
The hills flamed upward scorning
Death and failure here
I saw through the mist of morning
A wave like a sea set free
Faith to the dawn returning
Dark tide, bright unity.

(Beautiful verse, sister. But, sadly, it does not square with our present day reality… so, whad’ya know? It’s no longer ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same’, it’s ‘The more things change, the ‘behinder’ they get’!)

–Nahdjla Bailey

1 Comment

  1. ……….fortunately there are more Claudia Carasco—Johnsons out there, and fewer Nahdjla Baileys……..give HOPE a chance!

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