St. Lucians pride themselves as welcoming, compassionate, peaceful, a God-fearing Christian people. On that basis, we endeavour to attain a society that reflects those values. We implore God’s help in everything and ask Him to intercede on behalf of friends and family, with healing, love, joy, encouragement, and strength to overcome hurt and to handle difficult situations.
Quite often, we are heard calling for compassion, grace and mercy in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some early morning Talk Show Hosts even start their programmes in prayer. Callers offer, one to another, blessings and goodwill, and appeal to our humanity, change of hearts and to do good.
Sentimentally, we fantasise about building a just society based on equity, non-discrimination, protection for human rights, the vulnerable, the poor, the children. But we do nothing to attain it; in fact, our behaviour, practices, attitude towards one another is found wanting. And regrettably, we conveniently hide behind morality and virtues and use them as excuses for inaction, non-involvement, pretend not to be affected, denying reality and the facts on the ground, or simply blame the other.
It is undeniable that if St. Lucian society is not already at the melting point, it is heading towards destruction on all fronts. In the face of these obvious threats, St. Lucians continue to believe that some foreign entity will come in, fix it and save the day. We continue with inflated rhetoric as opposed to acknowledging obvious facts.
And so, we proposed with our rhetoric, a society aimed at attaining:
– total care for the children, their needs met, nurtured and raised to be modelled citizen;
– protection for the environment, less waste, effective recycling programmes, preservation of natural resources;
– support for the local farmers, fair access to the market, meaningful engagement in our agricultural development polices;
– respect for sanctity of human family; protection for individual rights, dignity and economic, social, political and democratic entitlements respected;
– affordable healthcare, understanding and comfort for the sick and dying, control over his/her own life or death; and
– full citizenship, a stake in the development thrust of the country.
In St. Lucia, the truth is, we see:
– many children are left to fend for themselves, abused, neglected, no guidance, lacking self-awareness, no sense of African self, African History conspicuously absent from their lives, culture, classrooms, homes, left to raise themselves;
– uninhibited, unbridled attack on the environment, a relentless costly damaging foot-print with no sign of abating;
– farmers ignored, no sustained support mechanisms, no collaboration on food security, poverty reduction or elimination of hunger, no buy local policy or programme, no coordinated strategy to work as a team on anything;
– rights trampled, seething anger towards one another; abused, indignity, scorned, contempt, distained; communities in fear;
– privatisation panacea, foreign private entity to have control over who has access, who lives or dies, nurses stripped of livelihoods, concerns, uncertainty, doctors, other healthcare professional under attack, fear of becoming ill;
– no national vision, no place for locals in economic development and growth, marginalised, foreigners preferred, cooperative business economic models are neither featured, nor encouraged.
Clearly, our virtues are at variance with the reality; our wishes in conflict with our actions.
Psychologists who studied people in such conflicting dispositions believe they suffer from a disorder, resulting from past trauma. It is a symptom of double-personality positioning or suppressive anger. They say suppressive anger often has deep roots in African Diaspora communities, and caused by lingering effects of centuries of brutality from slavery, and decades of oppression thereafter.
Dr. Sameena Akbar, a psychologist based in the UK, said that we may be several generations removed from slavery, but the scars continue to linger in “both our social and mental lives.”
Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary went further to diagnose these conditions as, “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.” She said that the African Diaspora may have emerged from slavery with remarkable “strength and resiliency,” but, they did not survive “unscathed.”
She said, “Slavery produced centuries of physical, psychological and spiritual injury” that have not been dealt with.
St. Lucian society being a product of the Slave Plantation System, inherited many of its cultural norms from the slave experience. We don’t exaggerate if we say that the dependency, seething hatred towards one another, the violence, lack of appreciation for self, may have deeper roots into our past than we care to admit.
It takes much more than wishes and excuses to cure the myriad of social problems that we are faced with in St. Lucia.
Perhaps, it might be time to look to our African self for answers — reclaim our African identity.