Our Readers' Opinions
January 21, 2005
The power of expression

Editor: After having written my opinion that party political conflict drains the intelligence, creativity and productivity of the nation, I discovered that this is also the unexpressed view of many other Vincentians at all levels of society. {{more}}

But then what is stopping us from shedding the constraining shackles of oppressive partisanship to an open creative approach where people feel free to speak their mind without being misinterpreted as acting politically? Why is the fear so great that people become silent and passively compliant to the very scourge of party politics that in private they profess to despise? Insincerity and suppression result, as many people fake agreement on issues whilst others follow blindly.

Many independent thinkers simply do not have the motivation to contest partisanship.

Opportunities overseas entice them – not because of the higher salary, but for the fulfilment and respect they receive in a more conducive working environment that focuses on professionalism rather than party affiliation. Many Vincentians do not return from overseas for the same reasons – they cannot feel professionally fulfiled in a partisan setting.

Then there is the case of the potential investor and developer who hesitates because of the political implications – reluctant to be identified with either side, fully aware of the repercussions on their investment in the long term.

Many citizens, scarred from negative experiences that are political in nature, choose to take care of their own concerns instead of making a social contribution that is badly needed. Valuable human resources are wasted as people avoid involvement and withdraw into the background.

In the social climate of withdrawal and apathy, it is impossible to build the community networks that are necessary to move forward as a nation because the solutions to social and economic problems are based on how inclined we are as individuals to make a contribution. To work with others on shared goals and vision is a personal choice. It is what national productivity depends on.

But with the tear down mentality that party politics fosters, the choice is simple – most people curtail their lives to minimal effort at work and closed social circles. They may even seek escapism from feelings of frustration in habits that are detrimental to mind and body.

In this way, the wrath of party politics robs the society of its human resource. Some would argue that political agendas have been placed above the personal development of the people, which dictates their ability to function efficiently within the society.

The fear of retribution built up over many years has allowed party politics to take control of people who have become compliant in their silence. The slide towards national stagnation results as fear of expression stifles creative thinking and we become increasingly self-absorbed.

These are testing times for us all – not least of all those in positions of power and influence, many of whom have yet to learn that to expect

supporters to subordinate is to apply the tool of oppression from which we were supposedly liberated a long time ago.

The creative politicians and policy makers, those who have the interests of the nation at heart, will welcome freedom of speech and constructive criticism, encourage people to act and self-organise, and not exploit the public apathy that gives those in power control and free reign.

But people should not wait for encouragement from political quarters, they should muster confidence to express considered opinions and make their vital contribution to the transformation of national consciousness. They can exercise the power of personal expression using language that in the words of George Lamming “allows us to reflect on who we are and what we might become”.

Vonnie Roudette