IT was none other than the Trinidadian Calypso vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist known as the “Calypso King of the World”–Mighty Sparrow–whose popular song’s refrain, “The world never miss a man so since de death of Christ…,” broadened the musical consciousness of many, particularly, in the Caribbean in the sixties.
For the purpose of this column, permit me to tweak the lyrics of this famous, most successful veteran calypsonian’s song: “The world never miss a person so since de death of Christ….” Queen Elizabeth 11 is the person in question.
Sadly, it is a well-known fact that Queen Elizabeth 11 passed away peacefully on Thursday, September 8, 2022 in her holiday home, Balmoral Castle, Scotland at the age of 96, after 70 years on the throne. There were mixed emotions of hate, disdain, rejection and love, respect, and acceptance as the world reacted to the passing of the British Monarch.
Shall we take a look at a few of those who vehemently opposed the British monarchy? Mehreen Faruqi tweets: “Condolences to those who knew the Queen. I cannot mourn the leader of a racist empire built on stolen lives, land and wealth of colonised people. We are reminded of the urgency of Treaty with First Nations, justice & reparations for British colonies & becoming a republic.”
A professor from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Uju Anya, tweets the following: “I heard the Chief Monarch of thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.”
Nevertheless, there was an outpouring of love, respect, and acceptance for the British monarch: Boris Johnson, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, paid a heartfelt tribute to the queen while a host of former prime ministers mourned her death. Johnson says: “Think what we ask of her and think what she gave. She showed the world not just how to reign over people, she showed the world how to give, how to love, and how to serve….She knew how to keep us going when times were the toughest….It was that indomitability, that humour, that work ethic, that sense of history, [one final quality–her humility] which together made her “Elizabeth the Great!”
British Prime Minister, Liz Struss, paid a passionate tribute to Queen Elizabeth 11: “We are all devastated by the news that we’ve just heard….The death of her majesty, the queen, is a huge shock to the nation and to the world. Queen Elizabeth 11 was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her….She championed the development of the Commonwealth….We are now a modern thriving dynamic nation. Through thick and thin, Queen Elizabeth 11 provided us with the stability and the strength that we needed. She was the very spirit of Great Britain, and that spirit will endure.”
Piers Morgan, an English broadcaster and television personality says that she was “a wonderful lady who changed so many lives.”
Finally (the list is by no means exhaustive), Rebecca Weisser, writer for the Spectator, remarks: “The Commonwealth is just a magnificent testimony to the achievement of Elizabeth…these people who protest her reign and colonisation seem to have missed the fundamental point….So, really, the kind of howling and complaints that we’ve heard from those who oppose the monarchy fail to see these extraordinary achievements precisely because they’re totally ahistorical–they don’t know history; so they understand none of these benefits, and they think it’s ok to just make things up…but you can see the great fruits of this whole long, slow process of liberty, and every expanded liberty.”
Where do we go from here? On the one hand, a common thread that runs through the messages of those in opposition is the belief that the British monarch/monarchy stole the wealth of colonized people. How? Through slavery and colonization. On the other hand, a recurrent theme in the other messages is that of profound love for the queen. Why? Because she has a well-deserved reputation, not only in Britain but, throughout the globe, as a reliable queen, and for her demonstrated love, wisdom, and success in changing the orthodox monarchical system of exclusive power into a modern system, whereby liberty, cooperation, and democracy flourish. Testimony to Queen Elizabeth 11’s unique humanitarian personality and leadership is the greatest funeral procession that anyone, including those who opposed her reign, had ever seen.
Indeed, the “The world never miss a person so since de death of Christ.”
Putting aside all grievances and criticism levelled against the British monarch purposefully for our sanity, peace of mind, and world peace and, importantly, for the progress and stability of our growing populace of students, I ask the relevant question: what wealth can Saint Lucian schools acquire from Queen Elizabeth 11’s notebook?
The wealth that is pertinent to the discussion is one that no one can destroy, steal, or demand reparations for, either by the queen herself, dead or alive, or by anybody else for that matter. That is, her wealth of personal values she upheld as she conducted her royal duties throughout her lifetime. Queen Elizabeth 11 continuously demonstrated her possession of a wealth of values, even in the face of resistance and hate, such as service, freedom/liberty, love, cooperation, democracy, stability, diligence, loyalty, reliability, and strength.
What really are values? Kirman (1996) sheds light on this subject: “When we talk about values, we are talking about a yardstick for human actions. Values are those aspects of life that are held in esteem, are worth living by, and are considered exemplary” (p. 38). Further, Turner (1999) states, “Value can refer to the worth of a person, a thing, or an idea….Our values are the principles or standards of quality we use in making all our decisions” (p. 173).
Helping students develop core values from an early age is the most important task a school or teacher can perform. My personal and professional experiences and observations have taught me that they will carry those values through life, with minimal changes. Such values are yardsticks which they will use to make their decisions and to measure their actions as they grow up.
How can schools help students develop values? Kenworthy (1912-1991) in his book, “Social Studies for the Eighties” (1981), offers some methods that are invaluable to date. For example, a value a teacher could place high on the class list would be cooperative work. Recognizing the worth of others would be the basis for such a value, and would lead to a realization that shared responsibility can lead to better results for all, which is true in every aspect of life–educationally, governmentally, economically, and religiously.
Finally, it will be remembered that cooperation was one of Queen Elizabeth 11’s personal values–an important determinant of how she shared and exercised her power for development (Hughes et. al., 2009). Pulling a page from the queen’s notebook would help students acquire a wealth of personal values that are necessary to adapt, survive, and thrive in a fast-changing world.