The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive (Clifford-Elsey Report, 1946).
Where do we think Grenada lies in light of the above statement? Can we say we are satisfied with our standard of living? Do we know the level of poverty many of our citizens live under? Do we judge our housing stock by what we see along our main roads when we travel? Does our population census truly record the pockets of residents in off-the-beaten-track locations?
The Government spoke of a program recently to bring flush-toilets to many homes in the country. It makes you wonder how many people are still using pit latrines. It is common and even acceptable for us to think that things are tolerable when we are only two steps from Sri Lanka in terms of our economic situation. If we think we are OK, something is awry about the economic indicators that are used.
Grenada cannot afford to let hope die. She’s been beleaguered from years of conflict, declared and undeclared; whether it’s socio-politically from Gairy and his years of tyranny to years of stagnation under Blaize; to Maurice Bishop and his tyranny, to the revolutionary massacre of its civilians; to countless steals of Grenada’s land and resources to crooks and criminals leaving taxpayers to pay the debt; to the military intervention by the U.S. and Caribbean Forces, and to neo-colonial domination by China, to highlight some of these pressures.
It’s understandable that many Grenadians feel like there’s not much to hope for. Hope is squelched or at least oppressed when circumstances ‘out of one’s control’ that lead to misery and want persist for a very extended period of time.
It is said that a dying man will grasp even at a straw. Something that would never be considered in times of moderate comfort becomes the only hope for a desperate person living in leaner times. The allure of a communist utopia that led to the wide range of support for both Eric Gairy and Maurice Bishop alike was only considered because this nation had largely lost hope for their present and thus could not see a prosperous future. But these dictators only brandished a veneer of a hopeful future before our faces, while the populace was abused and murdered.
The true hope for this country does not rest with any politician who has gone before, or any of those in our present; it rests in the knowledge that any nation may prosper if only they will believe, and elect people who believe, that this nation is wired to prosper, that our land aches for us to use it to take care of our poor, destitute, homeless, aged, sick, and to provide comfort for every Grenadian and every stranger that wishes to participate in its new birth.
Contrary to what we are told by the United Nations, and is believed by our leaders, Grenada is not a small island developing state (SIDS) with “special needs”, “vulnerable to external shocks”, which “cannot have economies of scale”. No nation is doomed to failure and want unless its people choose to do so, whether by elections, ignorance, failure of the media, or whatever other reason.
There is no nation on this earth that came into being solely to be poor. Every nation has an opportunity for prosperity, there are just nations that take it and nations that don’t. What is a nation, anyway? We have an idea that societies are made up of strangers, statistics; but that is not so; every nation is made up of groups of families that interact with one another.
Each family may not know the other personally, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is such that make up nations. If our families are broken, how can our nation be whole? If our neighbours seek to harass and taunt one another, how can this nation have peace?
The communists believe the key word is conflict; conflict must be promoted everywhere. Every dissatisfaction must grow into resentment. Every resentment must become an argument. Every argument must grow into a fight. Every fight must blossom into a riot. Every riot must expand into a war. And every war must end in devastation. For there in the ruins communism finds its chance. For the communists there must never be a compromise; never a settlement of disputes, only conflict (Army Pictorial Centre, ca. 1957).
The Orwellian radicalisation of human relations that encourages squealing on neighbours for minor things, which keeps a country divided and weak, makes us easy prey for dictatorial rule. If an entire nation believes that nothing good will ever come, no good shall ever come. What you seek, that you find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you.
If the minds of people in this nation are satisfied to live hand to mouth, barely enough, or just more than enough, then this nation will not progress. As Grenadians, we must change our hearts, for hope is the vehicle that brings us to the future, and we can only go as far as we can envision. Where there is no vision, the people perish, because you will never go where you cannot see, and stagnation kills the organism that was meant to move.
Grenada was never built to be poor. But when you listen to organisations like the United Nations, filled with despots, crooks, and fraudsters, who tell you ad nauseum that “you cannot manage your sewage on your own”, that you “are a small island developing state that must depend on the international community (whatever that is) to survive”, it helps you to not envision a better future for yourself – you become blinded by what you see.
Will you ever hear that the United States, the greatest nation in the world today, began as only 13 colonies, covering 430,000 square miles (approximately the size of modern Ethiopia)? That the United Kingdom, an island in the North Sea, by no means large (80th largest country in the world, 9th largest island/s) owned a ¼ of the world’s land mass and ruled the seas? That Tyre, (formerly an island, now a peninsula), was an ancient merchant wonder?
When they constantly throw your size in your face, you begin to believe them; and it is this belief that makes certain that we will always be what they say of us – small, poor, and unimportant. They like to speak of restrictions to economies of scale, but consider the business model of the GCNA. This co-operative was able to pool resources from small and large nutmeg farmers to compete internationally as the second largest producer of the crop for many years. However, we fail to use this model in other areas of the productive sector, except cocoa.
But if you can change your belief, and truly see what is around you, the treasure that God has placed us upon, then may our nation prosper. I’ve never seen a nation where there are more people than there is land; the land will always be more than enough to provide for the people who claim it as home. A nation cannot move ahead without its people, in fact, people make a nation. A nation becomes richer when its people have more to call their own, not when politicians rape our coffers or tout statistics that do not meet the reality on the ground.
We need to encourage small business: remove the red tape that chokes our economy and has us depending on the money from international agencies like the criminal, sinister IMF. We need to produce more for ourselves to bring down the cost of everyday necessities like flour, sugar, butter, salt, soap, and others like clothing, timber, cement, sand, and the multitude of commodities. These prices continue to increase without respite.
Our education system is another tool that keeps us enslaved to poverty. Why would a secondary school student undertake 21 subject areas, 14 of which are likely irrelevant for any field of endeavour or matriculation to a higher institution of learning and be rewarded for it? Is it that the more you pay to sit, the more subjects you get?
We need to completely overhaul our disgraceful education system and remove ourselves from under the education tyranny of the Caribbean Examinations Council which only serves to give diplomas to many who are practically incompetent because the system has failed them. We need our schools, not only to preserve our history and our identity as a nation, but to teach our young to be of worth to themselves, their communities, and this country.
We need our schools to teach our language so that we may code switch as necessary between the Queen’s/King’s English and our colourful Grenadian Creole English. How will our girls, who do not learn to cook at home become proficient if their schools only give them cooking practicals 2-3 times a year? How can our students learn to sew when there are only three sewing practicals for three years’ worth of teaching?
What is the good in learning biology in secondary school if, not only is your knowledge largely invalidated at college level, it cannot be of any use to them until the university level? Why do useless subjects like Social Life Skills, Social Studies, Human Family Life Education, and mandatory Guidance Counselling continue to waste the time of our students?
Schools need to become practical places, not centres of worthless, impractical knowledge that is of no good to anyone. Schools must produce bakers, carpenters, skilled fishermen, intelligent farmers, top-tier seamstresses; not just useless pieces of paper alleging knowledge in these areas.
Can you hope in any party, or in any of the politicians that you see before you? Does any one of them have your interests at heart? Many of our leaders have exalted themselves above of us for the sake of their own greed, for the sake of taking hold of power; but if you will remember, not the former days of hopelessness and grief, but days when our burdens were not so heavy, if you will remember those, know that even greater than that is yet to come: the best is yet to come.
Grenadian politicians have seen and still see us as an emaciated people who will not, cannot, retaliate if they steal from us; they pile upon us taxes and put great burdens upon the poor, they have lined their pockets while we give our blood, sweat and tears; but there is a future that is coming unlike anything we have ever seen before.
To accept it, however, we need to bury the romantic ideas of what the revolution used to be – we may remember it so that we may not repeat it, but we must not glorify these criminals. We must not glorify our former tyrants like Eric Gairy either, we must not allow our memories to beautify old wounds; we must bury them, and only remember them as a warning for future leaders.
There is a way, a path to rebirth for this country- it is not through taxes, as NDC has done this past year, it is not through sketchy foreign investors as NNP has long done – it is through using the bountiful resources our nation has been blessed with by God himself and we have been told do not exist.
It is through changing our hearts, and not letting politics divide us to a point beyond reconciliation that will bring us to a place of prosperity; we must put away that phrase we so like to say, sometimes over petty matters, “I won’t talk to you till the day I die.”
Our hearts need to change; we’ve been hardened by sorrow and hardship; we have lost the happy Grenadian way we were renowned for all over the world, and which is captured in the Grenada Handbook of the 1940s.
If one were to pass through town he/she will see so many harrowed, peaceless faces; the happy pedestrian is a rarity. We have let our circumstances sear our consciences, and have let hard times harden our hearts even against our families. Our families are so broken that we cannot progress. Some mothers and daughters wear clothes from the same pool.
We forget that a nation is not made up of strangers, but families. When those families are divided against themselves, the society has no choice but to fall apart. It is necessary that the leader of a nation must first successfully lead a family, else, how will they lead a nation of families if they do not have one of their own, or do not believe in the power of families at all?
So, knowing this, here are a few amendments to the current thinking in this country. Refuse to be led by these demagogues who aggravate old wounds and profess to be healers.”
Reparations have never made a country prosperous. America, which abolished slavery and is the wealthiest nation in the world today, did not become prosperous because of this reparations foolishness; but because freedom and opportunity allowed Americans to lift themselves up out of sorry circumstances into abundance.
Israel, which Francis Alexis, QC, mentioned to support his reparations cause, received compensation from Germany, but that was not the factor that accounts for Israel’s wealth today (Israel is the richest nation in the Middle East using the metrics of most millionaires and billionaires per capita and is the most developed nation in that region).
Grenada does not need reparations or demagogues; we need to provide for ourselves and stop depending upon the UN and China which only want to enslave us through debt.
And to do so we need to encode freedom into our constitution and overhaul the unjust laws, including the ones dependent upon a minister’s opinion, that keep Grenadians oppressed and needy, and that protect corruption in our government and give foreigners great reprieve from paying taxes and other benefits that are not granted to Grenadians.
We need better screening for our judges, and to make sure that lawyers and banks are not railroading and colluding with judges in our courts. Justice has to be swift – justice delayed is often justice denied.
Do not be deceived, don’t believe everything you hear the government say; do not believe everything politicians say. Test what they say; look for other supporting or contradicting evidence outside what you’re told. You cannot see the government as your source either; even though they are administrators; you have to carve your own path.
As U.S. founding father Thomas Jefferson said, “when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” There is a plan for Grenada – real change is coming like you’ve never seen before; but people have to prepare their hearts to receive this message of hope. We do not hope for what we already have; we hope for what we want to have; and with patience and courage we will wait for what is sure to come.
It won’t take long; this is a word for a nation in crisis; that there is good news, redemption: that this small one shall become a strong nation; a land of miracles, of gold and riches with prosperous people! Where we had brass we will have gold, for iron silver; for wood brass; for stone iron; our officers will be the embodiment of peace, our judges, righteousness.
It is true that hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when you achieve what you hoped for, you will experience prosperity; the LORD will accelerate it, just hold on!
Zarah Chase is the holder of an M.A. International Communications and Development, London