BC’S BDOS – St John Batista
LAST WEEK’S by-election in St John, caused by the sad death of former Prime Minister David Thompson, made many say a lot. Some, most notably Opposition Leader Owen Arthur (especially, apparently, to women with first names beginning with M), allowed themselves to say too much. In the run-up to last week’s election, Mr Arthur proved the efficacy of the old Trini saying “Mout’ open, ’tory jump out!”
Mr Arthur, and probably the Barbados Labour Party – and certainly their candidate, as the election result showed – might have been better off if he’d not said a word, rather than the mouthful of bitter ones that jumped out about Mara Thompson not being born in Barbados.
But I’m grateful to him because, though a great deal too much was probably said by far too many about the election, no one I’ve read or heard has pinpointed the second most important thing about it: last week’s Bajan by-election was contested by one candidate born in St Lucia and another born in St Vincent, both vying to replace a representative born in England.
The only more important thing than that genuinely remarkable fact was that it went largely unremarked: what might only recently have been a very big deal was taken in stride, indeed taken for granted.
It makes me hope these scrunting little islands might one day see the potential in themselves – which is to say, the potential in one another. Alone, we mean almost nothing in the big picture; but we could add up to the figure in the foreground.
Just for the avoidance of any uptight backlash, let me say plainly that Trinidad is our most scrunting little island, because it may have had money but definitely lost its way.
It may be the most optimistic view (hope?) I’ve held in half a century of highly idealistic idealism – my world view regularly crosses into fantasy, and I hope religious people might be spiritual, pastors might preach love, parents might honour their children –
but I really do believe (hope?) that the Caribbean region, led by the cricket-playing territories, could show the world how to live; making the perhaps dangerous assumption that we first live for ourselves and declare our own worth for ourselves and on our own terms.
A century from now, if mankind has not destroyed itself or nature has not rid the planet of us, if human beings do not just get along but get the most out of their short term of years, it may be because the rest of the world learned to live the way we do.
My hope is that last week’s by-election in St John might take us a step closer to the time when what matters to us is the work we can do for one another, and together, and not which rock we happened to crawl out from under.
The Cuban dictator Batista was an evil man, but he was important to Cuba’s rescue by Fidel Castro; and the St John by-election arises out of a sad event but it may yet give rise to a happy ending.
• B.C. Pires is the BLP candidate for leader of the DLP.