“To lead people, walk beside them. As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honour and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate. When the best leader’s work is done the people say, “We did it ourselves!” (Lao-Tsu)
MANY of you may remember Janus as the ‘two-faced’ god (or two heads, depending on your source of reference). I like this imagery very much because January is replete with paradoxes, and the prime paradox is the interplay between reclusiveness and emergence. The month of January was named after Janus for his ability to turn one face to reflect upon the past and a yet another face freshly pointed upon the future. This is so appropriate. January marks the New Year—for most humans, it’s a new beginning.
As our nation turns its face towards this incoming New Year, let us also revisit the past by three-and-a-half years to examine the face and style of governance in this [Fair Helen] country, and the present Administration’s management style.
In retrospect, this country has never had an Administration which has governed democratically and with the consent and will of the collective, that being ‘‘We, The People’’ (WTP). Instead, we are controlled by the whims, fantasies, and self-interest of elected representatives in the Cabinet of Ministers.
How do I know this, and where are the facts and evidential support of my assertion to sustain this statement? It speaks loudly for itself in our daily lives. To concretise the proof, look no further—one need not torture the evidence to gain a confession, since it speaks volumes in their rejection of our constitutional reform—a motion well-defined by, for, and from WTP.
Yes, Reader, it is the only time in our nation’s short history that both political parties have ball-danced dichotomies at our expense. They refuse to acknowledge their stewardship of the State of Saint Lucia—instead they bind together the 17 Parliamentarians to ensure Our State becomes ‘their Estate’—an official regime coup d’état, or what?
They quibble in protest at WTP’s endeavour to defang them of the verminous power they over-exploit and revel in to keep us at bay, and to dominate and control our destiny.
Alas, times are changing, and in the process WTP are beginning to awake from the political vapidity (duller) we have been intoxicated by for so many decades. For too long, political parties have enjoyed five-year shindigs as we sleepwalk, pithed by the party’s surgeons, hacks, and operatives, not forgetting the sycophants, lawyers, lay-persons, even members of the cloth and well-placed journalists, and flagging civil servants, who are more concerned with their own self-centred interests than with the state of Our State.
This situation brings to mind several middleclass conformists, busying themselves fixing the furniture on the deck while the ‘Ship of State’ is sinking. Where is the outrage from the ‘house negroes’? Our silence is construed as consent.
Let’s fast-forward to a case study during the period under review and, more precisely, this past year at the National Trust Annual General Meeting held in the Financial Centre at Pointe Seraphine in November 2019.
At that grating assembly, the out-of-touch Prankster Minister (PM)—or rather, the Steward or “Kolonm“ of Our State—‘sleep-walked’ in a timeworn, outdated fashion, speaking as if he were ‘The Owner of Our State’ and not the Servant Leader. To date, a chill still runs down my spine, and my veins calcify in outrage, that in the 21st Century a servant of the people should refuse to take questions. Frankly, the assembled audience were dumbfounded!
With behaviour symptomatic of suffering from Rip Van Winkle syndrome, when emerging from that slumber, please note that things have changed—’King Compton’ and ‘Prince Kenny’ are no longer on their self-erected thrones, and certainly nor are you, Mr PM, except as a delusional ‘Clown King’!
At the AGM, you exhibited an infantile, inhumane, and arrogant disposition, deliberately disregarding your legitimate function to report upon your stewardship of Our State to WTP. On the contrary, you stood on a pedestal to pontificate, bullying WTP rather than giving an account of your guardianship—behaving as a ‘Clown King’, talking down to your ‘Subjects’ and threatening to leave if your demands were not met; and by your non-verbal gestures, seemed ready to decapitate anyone daring to respond to your intimidation. Yes, it was a Bully Pulpit…!
Please, note well that several folks present in that audience built this nation with worn-out tools; namely, school principals, educators, doctors, nurses, farmers, fisher-folks, housewives, environmentalists, and sanitation engineers. Yes, times have changed—WTP no longer call our fellow citizens garbage collectors, they are Sanitation Engineers. How dare anyone of sound mind disrespect the people openly, in their immediate presence and to their face?
Where were you when they toiled with more than sweat, and sometimes even tears, to shape this country, keeping it in as good or better a condition as they inherited it—in Trust for you and your children to borrow from the succeeding generation? Get that right Mr PM—it is not your inheritance or birthright to do with as you please.
There must be checks and balances, which is the legal mandate of the National Trust. Remember: “For lack of proper guidance, a nation falls, but with many counsellors comes freedom.” In a 21st Century democracy, WTP expect and demand dialogue, and not a pompous and overbearing monologue which is out of step with our times. Mr PM, democracy does not start or end with the ballet box, but is a continual dialogue with ‘We, The People’.
Dear Readers, who remembers Mr PM’s own words in 2016 of the previous Administration—“Plantocracy” all over again…? Surely this is serious enough to name his action a “Crime Against ‘We, The People’”. Call it by any other name, or perfume it with excuses and platitudes if you will, but it has a foul odour and is out of step with the thinking of the times in which we live. It is akin to measuring a table with a thermometer—infantile at best!
People on every continent are standing-up for their inalienable human rights, and the Divine right to sustainable development with associated livelihoods—not an ad hoc, schizophrenic, haphazard, helter-skelter, so-called ‘growth plan’. Your method is an envelopment model which is quaint and out-dated, ‘colonial’ in style and substance, suffering from a grandiosity complex, compounded by conspicuous consumerism and continuous lavish entertainment at the expense of healthcare, education, and the basics of food, fresh water, clothing, and shelter for the masses. Osimo economics!
Your business proposals are akin to ‘corporate necrophilia’—intercourse with dead concepts! For example:
• a dolphin park near the khaki sand beaches and turquoise waters of our only National Park at Pigeon Island;
• transforming pristine green spaces into water-thirsty golf courses at Cap Estate; and,
• horse shit in Vieux Fort, instead of hospital bed sheets etc.
Yes, dear Readers, just consider that it has taken one government only “about two years or less” to build a horse racing track, but after 10 years and three governments, they have still not completed and opened a new hospital—for ‘We, The People’! More specifically, the ‘Clown King’s’ administration has been in power for over three years, and yet the hospital remains incomplete. It is axiomatic that the health needs of WTP are not a priority. Mr PM, the blood’s penetrating the bandages! Fix it!
Entrainment and more entertainment will just not cut it—where do our food security, our sovereignty, and our safety fit into the equation? Alas, could the intervention of the “First Lady” (a misnomer if ever there was), bearing gifts to our Royal Police Force/Security Services, be considered a threat to our National Security to the keen observer? Enough said!
• What is the nation’s plan to feed ourselves and reduce our exorbitantly high food import bills?
• Where are the plans for public parks and protected areas?
• Why is nothing sacred any longer, including the Pitons World Heritage Site?
• Why is everything up for sale?
Again, don’t forget to remember: “For lack of proper guidance, a nation falls, but with many counsellors comes freedom”, and let’s ponder anew that, “not all that can be counted, counts, and not all that counts can be counted”.
Admittedly, the issues of State are difficult matters. We understand the tensions that exist between envelopment and development, and that Mr PM nor anyone else has all the answers—but remember the old adage: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed”—hence the urgent need to resolve these tensions through dialogue—it cannot happen with Mr PM’s self-important monologue.
At all costs, we must engage in discourse in order to arrive at a healthy equilibrium for the good of Our State. We must learn to reconcile our differences in a civil, constructive, well informed, evidence-based, ethical, reasoned, and reasonable manner using our collective imagination and creativity. Stop the raucousness we see and hear which passes for debate every week in the People’s Parliament.
Lived experience teaches us that matters of State do not conclude well by undue haste or spontaneous combustion—better to be accomplished by genuine debate and collaboration, and by dint of hard work and, above all, sound environmental principles—not by selling our patrimony or the real estate which is Our Land, or by importing foreign investment alone, or by selling citizenship for investment. Those who sacrifice their principles for their privileges tend to lose both.
As James Russell Lowell puts it: “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne. Yet that scaffold sways the future”; indeed, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” The one-sided approach is a recipe for disaster. In our lifetime, ‘We, The People’ have seen many despots who thought they were demigods, run for refuge from their self-erected thrones to either hide in a hole with suitcases full of American dollars, or impeached and hanged upon the scaffolds they built for their so-called ‘Enemies of State’. Poetic justice is sometimes swift and brutal, so take warning ‘Clown King’.
Thus, ‘We, The People’ ask you, Mr PM, to check and read the signs of the times—not only should you awake from your sleep-walk, but also from your dream-state. No longer can you follow fashion to think you may make Our State ‘your Estate’. It is also time to come to terms with the reality of the imminent existential threat that the human species presently faces.
At international forums, our Leaders mouth “Climate Change”, but at home they dump their garbage in their back yards, desecrate the environment and defecate in their own front yard. It’s sexy to utter the platitudes in the international arena, but on the domestic front they show disregard and contempt for those who are well-informed, well-trained, and well-equipped with the knowledge and legal mandate to guide the DCA and Estate Managers towards the sustainable use of our resources. Keep in mind, that reliability is about the consistency of a measure, and validity is about the accuracy of a measure.
They forget to remember that Saint Lucia’s Land is State or Communal Property, owned by WTP not the Government, and, in the view of Pope Francis, ecocide is a crime against the earth. Therefore, selling and/or gifting our Communal Lands or State Property without our consent or approval, and for a peppercorn prize of $1 per acre for 99 years, is not only ecocide but larcenous and the Rape of Fair Helen.
In today’s world, with the likes of 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg initiating global movements, her words resonate even more loudly—she announced: “The eyes of all future generations are upon you; and if you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line…”, and then she continued: “You have stolen our patrimony [childhood and dreams] with your empty words. How dare you!?”
To quote Lao Tzu again, “In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, guide without trying to control”. It is essential and urgent to remember that Saint Lucia is only 238 square miles, and this is all we have—so, ‘We, The People’ require Leaders to think globally, but act locally—and it is imperative that we must all live simply that others may simply live.