Challenging times demand innovation, creativity of ideas
October 26, 2006

Challenging times demand innovation, creativity of ideas

by Dr. The Honourable Ralph E. Gonsalves Prime Minister

Our nation celebrates its 27th anniversary of independence on October 27, 2006. Over the past 27 years there has been much material progress and social development. Incomes have risen; the physical infrastructure has improved; advances in education, health, housing, and social services have been made; the quality of governance has been enhanced; poverty has been reduced; the people’s cultural awareness has been lifted; accomplishments in sports have been recorded; and generally the quality of people’s lives has seen marked improvements. Particularly in the last five years, social and material achievements at the individual and national levels have been impressive.{{more}}

These advances, however, appear not to have been accompanied by a parallel lifting of that which feeds the spirit and the soul. To be sure, there are more churches than ever and more people seem to be professing publicly their Christianity than before. And they are undoubtedly sincere in all this. Yet, in this small nation of ours vices multiply; man’s inhumanity to man roars in some quarters; indescribable violent crimes occur with greater frequency than ever; good neighbourliness is diminishing; falsehoods routinely become the currency in which too many who oppose the Government, traffic; the lowest common denominator is paraded as the ideal standard on much of talk-show radio; public discourse is conducted with an unacceptable coarseness by many who seek power; crass individualism devoid of social responsibility is rampant; a dog-eat-dog attitude is growing; criminality and vagabondry are accorded a veneer of respectability in some sections of our society; treasured civility is dismissed as old-fashioned; the worst features of ghetto life in American cities are being emulated as worthy; and a tawdry imitativeness is paraded as


Thus, while we are chalking up successes in reducing material poverty, there is a discernible poverty of the spirit. Similarly, the quest by too many in our society for material success is unmatched by a bounty of ideas for overall upliftment of the person and the nation’s soul. Material consumption accompanied by spiritual scarcity and a paucity of creative ideas would prove to be our nation’s undoing, if we are not most careful.

It does appear that the very modernization which we rightly espouse brings in its train many unwholesome dimensions. There are 70,000 (seventy thousand) cell phones in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and we are all talking more than ever; but, we are losing the art of talking properly to each other. The air waves are saturated with talk-shows, yet very little that is uplifting emerges therefrom. Radio stations have mushroomed aplenty but a daily diet of debilitation sameness, is increasing. Education, information and knowledge are down-played; crude partisan propaganda is promoted day and night. It all benumbs the public, makes them more cynical, elevates foolishness, and corrupts the political process. It sickens right-thinking persons. Freedom of speech becomes freedom to abuse, freedom to distort, freedom to utter falsehoods without personal consequences. Those who sow the wind are likely to reap the whirlwind. The purveyors of this subverting of the people’s spirit must be resisted. They who parade problems but offer no solutions must be isolated. Those who embrace pessimism must be rejected. They are in love with problems, not their solution.

Leadership is for serious, honest people with a clear people-centred vision, a finely-articulated philosophy, a comprehensive package of policies, and practical programmes for implementation. These challenging times demand innovation, creativity of ideas, connectedness with the people, and a nobility of spirit grounded in tried and tested values of our Caribbean civilisation. The on-going challenges of modern globalisation and a society-in-change require such a leadership in communion with the people. This is what my

government continues to offer, despite human weaknesses and limitations.

Over the next year, two critical events conjoin in memorable unison: First, Cricket World Cup 2007 will bring to the Caribbean, including St Vincent and the Grenadines the largest ever single voluntary movement of people over a short period of time. Secondly, we will commemorate, in March 2007, the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, which trade saw the largest involuntary and enforced movement of people to our region. Both events are of real significance and we must continue to prepare well for them.

Meanwhile, my government continues to implement the policies and programmes upon which it was elected less than one year ago. The mandate which we have been given will be carried out. Defeated policies will not be initiated. We will focus on what the people elected us to do.

I wish all our people, at home and abroad a reflective and celebratory Independence Day 2006. Let us together uplift the spirit for our individual selves and our nation!