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Commentary: Legacy: Breaking the historical circle
Published on December 3, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Oliver Mills

My previous article on this subject of legacy dealt with underdevelopment and authoritarianism, politics not being development oriented, managed freedom as opposed to real freedom, a system of indentured servants, rather than indigenous people development, and a legacy of education as a strategy to maintain the status quo, and not challenge, or significantly transform it.

Oliver Mills is a former lecturer in education at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. He holds an M.Ed degree. from Dalhousie University in Canada, an MA from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in HRM and Training, University of Leicester. He is a past Permanent Secretary in Education with the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands
I will now make some suggestions on how to begin the necessary changes to break this historical cycle. As a start, the Caribbean needs to recreate a sense of national awareness. This means a further clarification, and the development of new perspectives of who we are, as a people, cultivating a deep respect, and appreciation for ourselves, and using strategies to involve Caribbean nationals more widely in the reconfiguration of the economy, and psychology which shape our existence, and the choices we make.

Then there is the crafting of a deep sense of national consciousness which entails a recognition of our sense of place, and a sensitivity to the fact of the literal oneness of Caribbean people. When this transformation of the psyche occurs, we will begin to see each other as being the same, and therefore redirect our energies to advance the total interests of everyone. When this happens, our inherited values will be transformed from one of division to dynamic co-operation, and the search for development initiatives which will replace the inherited tendency of underdevelopment. We develop a self that is untainted by the culture of others, and so find our true selves, and our sense of personhood. Authenticity, therefore, is critical to how we see ourselves, and who we are.

Breaking the historical cycle further means instituting a programme of political education. This leads us to question how things are done, and cultivate new, different, and more effective strategies to solve the issues that affect us. This results in more compassionate, and responsive institutions which put people first, rather than being used for the narrow purposes of enriching a political clique. With political education, rules and procedures will seek to advance the welfare of citizens, and not to dominate and control them. Division of the populace by political parties will then cease, and policies, programmes, and their implementation will reflect the general will and the greater good of all. Racial, ethnic, and class categories will therefore disappear, along with politics as we have inherited it.

This means a dynamic cultural transformation and renewal. And from this emerges a new cultural orientation and mind-set. Here, freedom becomes natural, and real, in the sense of being really and truly experienced, and is not hedged around by psychological or overt restrictions. Presently, we have managed freedom as a legacy. The newer, richer sense of freedom comes from new values which enable the flourishing of the personality, to the extent that to do harm, or restrict each other’s movement and expression becomes unthinkable. This new cultural orientation replaces the ideas of a particular ruling group, with that of a consensus of the many arrived at through dialogue, and respecting each citizen’s contribution as being equal. Policymaking then becomes not an aggregate of views, but a collective effort, and its implementation a co-operative venture.

The system of indentured servants, disguised as external recruitment of personnel, which is our legacy, is converted into mass education in the skills, knowledge, and dispositions required by Caribbean society to run the newly created economy, politics, and society. The society is each citizen, and each citizen the society. As a result the patron-client relationship that previously existed between politics and the voters is dissolved, and the philosophy of each one helping the other, and enabling and fostering the development of the other, becomes real. The system, through its institutions, promotes and supports this new ethic as well. State resources are therefore not siphoned off to enrich the few, but are managed in the interest of the many.

Education, previously used as a tool to maintain the status quo, now becomes the instrument of its transformation into a more humane, egalitarian system, serving individual and national objectives. The new education creates new perspectives, new moral thinking, and is aimed at producing moral citizens, with the desire to serve, innovate, and create, and so produce new ways of perceiving and operating, which contribute to the welfare of all. When the historical legacy is broken, truth flourishes, and life for Caribbean people will begin anew.
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