AS I SEE THINGS: Are we really independent?
GRENADA HAS JUST CELEBRATED 42 years as a politically independent country from Britain with much pride and joy among the citizens and leaders.
In marking this occasion, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, in his address to the nation, reminded Grenadians that: “This is a new era. Because something has always been a particular way, does not mean that we cannot change course. There is never a bad time to change direction, when it is a change for better.”
What is this new era Grenadians are being informed of? In which direction would you wish to see the country and people move? To get to the nitty-gritty of the prime minister’s call for action, let me encourage all Grenadians to take a stand for the rule of law, for your country and for the democratic way of life to which you have been adjusting since the early 1980s. And I also want to extend that call to all of our Caribbean sisters and brothers as well.
Why? The hallmark of life and living in our part of the world has been the gaining of political independence and the creation of sovereign nation states with our own constitutions and governance structures.
To some, breaking away in such a significant manner from our colonial past and becoming independent islands is arguably one of our greatest achievements. But, are we as small island states with relatively tiny economies and populations really independent?
According to businessdictionary.com, if you are independent, then, you are “not controlled by any outside factors including opinions and regulations”. If one were to interpret that definition in strict manner, then, the logical conclusion is that we are not independent because there are countless cases where external circumstances have not only controlled our responses but also dictated the nature and extent of those responses.
A more pragmatic approach to this issue is for us as a people to case aside all of the material religious, political and cultural things that divide us and begin to ask some tough but relevant questions about the existing state of affairs in our various countries, several years after gaining political independence. That sort of critical self-examination is an effective way to approach the question of whether we are truly independent, as people, as countries.
For instance, are we really independent when our children and grandchildren wake up early in the morning with no food to eat, no clean water to drink and shower, and no sense of purpose? Can we consider ourselves independent when we lack basic access to quality education and health care?
Do we wish to be independent when time after time our governments fail miserably to deliver on promises made to us during election campaigns? Have we been exercising independence when each time our economies make a turn for the worse, we run cap in hands to the International Monetary Fund for bailout funds and technical assistance?
Folks, to be really independent does not mean that as peoples and countries we have to do everything ourselves without any foreign assistance or involvement. What is at stake is our willingness and ability to do all of the things we can handle ourselves in the most efficient manner and not sit back and wait for others to provide handouts to us.
When we have exhausted all of our potentials, then and only then should we seek external intervention. If we abide by that simple principle in all that we do, it would be reasonable to infer that we are acting in an independent manner and our peoples and countries will be made better for all and sundry to enjoy!
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