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Commentary: It is said that those who know right and do wrong...
Published on May 13, 2017Email To Friend    Print Version

By Tyrone Hodge

The Bible tells us that those who know right and still do wrong will be whipped with many prongs. And yet despite that admonition, we lower the longboats and we forge ahead to a shore of uncertainty. We consistently find ourselves backpedalling on our heels in opposition to something that’s being done in our name.

Tyrone Hodge is an Anguillan currently living in California and an educator, who values education and one’s heritage. He has written extensively for the Anguillan newspaper and is a panelist of the Mayor Show, which originates in Anguilla every Saturday, in which we focus on identifying problems and offering solutions. His father was Walter G. Hodge, one of the original stalwarts of the Anguilla revolution of 1967
During the week that was earmarked as Heritage Week, it would have served us well if we had taken the time out to reflect as we approach our semi-centennial as a free, (and I use the word “free” somewhat tenuously here), and independent people, on what is our heritage as indigenous Anguillians.

It is very difficult for me as an indigenous Anguillian to reflect on what has happened to us as a people. What is even more difficult to accept is that what’s being done is being done by our very own.

It is by no means just the fault of a few. We had a hand in this too. The Turks have a saying that says: “It’s not just the fault of the axe, but the tree as well.” There are those of us out there who know what’s happening is wrong, but choose to do nothing about it simply because we don’t want to get involved. I’m sorry, but you don’t get to stand on the sidelines and let the rest of us do the heavy lifting and then when it’s convenient for you to do so, join the race.

Anguillians, who are as polarized as they come, cannot continue to behave in the manner that we currently are. As Reverend Niles pointed out on the Mayor Show a few Saturdays ago, until we become discontent with our discontent it will be business as usual. So the question becomes, when will we become discontent with our discontent? Are we ready to show our discontent with our discontent?

One of the things that you could always talk about was our resiliency. We always managed to bounce back. We took the blows, but we always did it our way. We had no choice. We learned by trial and error. Unfortunately, we have not progressed beyond that trial and error phase, for here we are almost 50 years later and we are worse off than before.

Cast adrift in a sea of uncertainty, the Anguilla of today is not the one that we, the so-called baby boomers grew up in. That Anguilla was the one in which respect was paramount, where manners was the order of the day, where if you had and your neighbor didn’t you gladly shared. In today’s Anguilla, the Anguilla of cell phone towers, the Anguilla of young men wearing their pants below their butt cheeks, the Anguilla of lost banks, the Anguilla where no one, least of all, our government, is held accountable, that is the Anguilla that we no longer recognize.

In a country where education was and is the way forward, one has to ask why we are so lackadaisical when it comes to our own best interests. Like the founders of the United States of America, we too believed that a well informed electorate was needed to preserve our democracy and Anguillian society as a whole. And be that as it may, we still find ourselves suffering from political immaturity, political insensitivity, political naivety, nepotism and in dire need of political education. So said Damien Hughes in the “40th Anniversary of the Anguilla Revolution

While there are those who claim that education is overrated, it was the general consensus of the founding fathers of America, that for a more participatory form of government, that the people needed more and better education to preserve their state and national republics from relapsing into tyranny. The form of government that the British gave us, the Westminster model is nothing more than an elective dictatorship, as was so eloquently stated by Charles Wilkin QC, in his book Breaking the Cycle.

We will no doubt go out and celebrate our semi-centennial, and sing the praises of just about everyone, while our people continue to suffer. No one will have the balls to stand up and be counted. No one will have the audacity or the temerity to speak truth to power for fear of reprisals. They will stand around waiting for someone else to broach the wrong doings, not only of this government, but of ones past.

We are all complicit in our own demise if we chose to stay on this path. We cannot blame the millennials, for it was up to us to educate them in much the same way as our parents educated us. We have done a very poor job of raising our children, for when you see what is happening in our homeland today that is the only conclusion that one can reach.

I constantly refer to the spirit of ‘67 and I’ve been asked to explain what I meant. In ‘67 we found ourselves with our backs against the wall with nowhere to go, and it is known that when one finds his or herself in a flee or fight situation, more often than not, the option of choice is to fight, for if one flees, they’re just postponing the inevitable, for sooner or later, the same situation presents itself again.

Granted, a lot of the ’67 stalwarts are long gone and the new generation knows not from whence they came and therefore they have no skin in the game, so to fight for a cause that they don’t understand makes no sense whatsoever.

To complicate matters, we now have two Anguillas, the Anguilla that is the AUM and the Anguilla that is the AUF. We saw what happened in the United States. North against South. And while we in Anguilla may not have gotten to that point, the fissures are there. Each side is distrustful of the other, so what do we do? There simply aren’t enough non affiliated constituents out there to make a difference. In the meantime, we have poorly educated voters who will stay with a particular party out of loyalty.

John Adams warned the American people that “When a favorable conjuncture has presented some of the most powerful and intriguing citizens have conceived the design of enslaving their country, and building their own greatness on its ruins.” History is rife with such leaders. Alexander in Greece and Caesar in Rome.

Is that what we are witnessing first hand in Anguilla, the building of one’s greatness on the backs of our ruins? Thomas Jefferson once noted, “I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession, unless the mass of people could be informed to a certain degree.” He further stated that “the people needed enough education to distinguish worth from treacherous candidates for office-lest the republics succumb to those reckless demagogues or would-be-aristocrats”. As he put it, “Ignorance and despotism seem made for each other.”

So no matter how “astute” we think our leaders are, it is in our best interests to hold them accountable. Let us make sure that our government operates in a way that it was intended. When we fail to show up at the House, we are sending the wrong message. When we elect people to represent us and they don’t, we should have a way other than the ballot box to remove their behinds from office.

We can’t honestly say that we are a democracy, for a lot of what has gone in since this government has taken office does not fit the definition of democracy. We have to stop being selfish and teach our people the value of virtue.

In addition to Anguilla being highly polarized right now, the present government, or its leader has openly advocated for a class system and not only that, he has behaved in a way that has been reserved for third world leaders who have in most cases operated as dictators.

Our people have to be educated about what is and what Anguilla isn’t. Until they understand what’s at stake, everything that we do will amount to an exercise in futility. Right now no one wants to do any of the hard work.

Folks there aren’t many of us left and those who are still here, there’s only so much that we can do. Our chief minister has three and a half years left to solidify his legacy. Whether it is to completely destroy Anguilla, or to try and move her forward in a positive manner remains to be seen. Either we are going to throw stones without hiding our hands, or we’re going to follow blindly over the cliff.

We have watched as this government has flaunted the rules in the House time after time. We have watched as the Speaker of the House behaves as an AUF flunky, doing their dirty work. We have watched as members of the house fail in their fiduciary roles as watchdogs for the people’s money. We have watched as the CM has disrespected the leader of the opposition time and time again and with the speaker’s blessing. We have watched as the CM has made decisions as though no one else counted. And we call this a democracy?

At a time when everyone has become so litigious, it is understandable that one may be gun-shy, but somewhere along the way, one has to take a stand for what one believes. I am not saying that an editor should willfully misstate the facts, but when the Speaker behaves like a jackass in the House and no one calls him out then you are condoning that sort of behaviour. After all if you can’t get a fair shake from the Speaker, then where will you get it?

Those who know right and do wrong will be whipped with many prongs. So says the good book, but yet we continue to behave contrary to its teachings. We need to instill in our people the value of virtue. We need to go back to the drawing board and revive the things that made us great, an educational system, and an essential pillar of a free government. And according to the founders of America, we should espouse the concept of virtue, which is defined as a core public value worth teaching. That in turn would enable more voters to detect demagogues seeking power through bluster and bombast and pandering to the self interest of members of the electorate.”

We are in the process of constitutional and electoral reform for the umpteenth time and much to the chagrin of all involved, it will be truly transformational if anything becomes of the efforts involved. As a people known for voting and boating, we will wait with bated breath for the outcome of this latest endeavour, knowing that if it does not benefit the party in power, they won’t move forward, hence another exercise in futility. Who knows, maybe this time, it will happen. We might very well wind up with something that we can all be proud of. At the end of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman in Philadelphia asked Ben Franklin what sort of government the delegates had created for the people. He supposedly replied, “A republic madam, if you can keep it.”

So in light of all that has happened, we have issues that require the utmost attention, and the closer we get to our semi-centennial, it is incumbent upon us as the stakeholders of our forefather’s legacies, to see that no interlopers are allowed to destroy what so many of them past and present so diligently worked for. So till next time, may God bless us all and may He continue to bless Anguilla.
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