Although now a senior citizen, I can still recall as a lad growing up on the Lance in Gouyave during the 1940s, ’50s and even the ’60s, when the priest, the teacher and the police were revered members of our society and the local community saw them as national role models.
Today, from about the time of political independence in 1974, buttressed by the surge of the “information-overload era”, followed by the current trend of fake news; the Grenadian persona has undergone a metamorphosis (a change), which is recognizable by those like myself of a bygone age, on an island nation, which was then moving towards the path of creating in each parish a (civitate dei) an urban paradise.
One can identify many reasons why we have lost our way, but the reality is that no longer are the priest and pastor together with the police, regarded as national role models. The police become very active after the crime is committed. Call for help from the public, especially the poor, the vulnerable and the elderly is seldom provided. After the crime, a full investigation is announced but the “result” of the investigation if completed is seldom made public. What is even more alarming is that the police have become a statistic in breaking the law which they are supposed to uphold and protect.
The voice of the priest (the church), which used to be our moral and spiritual compass is now silent, as it has allowed itself to be compromised by making concessions to the political directorate, rather than leading the way and guiding the flock to the “promised land”, in which they should be the leading participant. The saving of souls on an empty belly and under a leaking roof is hardly the way to “paradise”.
And this brings me to the “teacher”, the last man standing – so to speak, in a society where political posturing, arrogance and social in-justice (human rights) are methodically being eroded and becoming the order of the day.
After the home (the parents), the teacher is the de facto moulder of the minds of the nation, they are the bedrock upon which the nation’s intellectual foundation and character are built, and which gives us a societal face – so to speak, in the global tapestry of humanity. This is why they remain national role models and stand tall in the current impasse with the government, despite the recently orchestrated propaganda among the gullible to incite hatred for the teachers who have responded to the November salary deduction by a “work to rule” directive.
I am not a statistician or a lawyer, but what is clear to me and any logical mind is that our constitution makes provision for teachers to be paid a 25% gratuity on retirement, after a labour of love spanning in some cases over 30 unbroken years of service. This is deliberately so, in order that they will not – in the evening of their lives, retire as pauperised members of a society that is supposed to look after the well-being of its senior citizens, and not create an environment where they become mendicants – surviving on the reluctant generosity of the state.
The paradise that Grenada could be, after surviving 400 years of white enslavement and the progress made over the years in an evolving Caribbean civilization must not be exchanged in the 21st century for its black version.
To all readers: Merry Christmas and a progressive New Year.