The Pearl of Saint Lucia

There is a magnificent silver lining to the cloud hovering over our country at the moment. For the first time in a very long time, civil society groups and professionals are speaking out about the things that impact our development. These groups are realizing they cannot and should not depend on politicians to articulate their problems for them, neither should they leave the decisions on the direction the country’s development takes solely in the hands of politicians.

This process will be accompanied by some friction and teething pains. Politicians do not always like or trust the empowerment of civil society, particularly empowerment that they have not facilitated or caused, and they will push back hard against this new advocacy. However, the civil society groups and professionals should not be deterred. Theirs is a just and necessary cause.

It also signifies a long-awaited maturing of our country as it ends its fourth decade of independent existence. The relatively few people who present themselves to the electorate every five years and solicit votes in the promise to govern fairly and responsibly, do not represent the totality of the brain trust of our country. There is significantly more wisdom and experience residing outside of the Cabinet, any Cabinet not just this one, than resides within it. Our elected officials need to be reminded of this, as they must also be reminded that they should always be governing for the people, not for themselves.

Hopefully, more of our professionals and civil society organizations will become engaged, regardless whether the issue being debated impacts them directly or not, and they will remain engaged regardless which party forms the government. This is the only way the people can keep politicians and the government honest and ensure the decisions they take always redound to the benefit of all the people, not just a select few.

This friction is good. Recently in our country there has been much talk of ‘pearls’. What we may not know is that pearls are created inside the shell as a defense mechanism ‘against a potentially threatening irritant such as a parasite inside the shell, or an attack from outside that injures the mantle tissue’. Pearls are created out of friction. A beautiful Saint Lucian pearl will be created from all of this, and both our political process and civil society will emerge stronger and better.

As a friend reminded me not too long ago - “none but ourselves can free our minds”.

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