As a family man, I look forward each year to celebrating Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day with my family. This year has been nothing short of horrific for us though.My mother, a pioneer of organising activities for Mothers’ day, passed away less than two weeks before the 2018 celebrations and just two days before Fathers Day, my sister was brutally murdered.
It is all too easy therefore to be overwhelmed by a sense of gloom and despair. Personal grief is understandable; rage at the callous and brazen nature of the murder of an innocent victim is a natural human response. But what else is there? My sister was no public figure, a woman who left these shores nearly a half century ago in her early twenties to become part of the immigrant community in Brooklyn, coping with the hardships yet never losing her warmth, kindness and an open door to all in need of it. How undeserving was her fate!
Yet as I wallow in my pit of personal broken-heartedness, I keep hearing the echo of a popular calypso of the early sixties, entitled NEVER EVER WORRY. It reminds us that no matter your perilous situation, always remember that, somewhere, “somebody suffering more than you”. You may think that your personal predicament heralds the end of the world, but if you pause to think and reflect, millions of others in the world are in a much worse situation than you.
So, while grieving, I look at television coverage of the happenings at the USA/Mexico border. At least I have the rest of my family’s shoulders to lean on, what about those poor Latin American children, so cruelly wrested from their parents and put in detention centres on the orders of a cold President Trump? Interestingly, those who inflict such inhuman suffering use the very same biblical justification, contained in Romans 13 as was done centuries ago to justify slavery and genocide.
A flick on the remote control shows me the images of human suffering, again children bearing the brunt, in Yemen as the Saudi pals of trump, continue to inflict human misery on the Yemeni population. Another flick and there are desperate African families, seeking refuge in Europe, drowning in the Mediterranean or literally knocking from “bow to stern”, turned away by callous European administrations even as they cry to the heavens for help and succour.
There are also victims of natural disasters. Up to now our brothers and sisters in Dominica and the Leeward Islands are still trying to come to grips with the devastation of the 2017 hurricane season. We have an active volcano here, so the eruptions in Guatemala and Hawaii, and the human tragedies wrought by them, will not go unnoticed, at least not in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
When to all this, you add the plight of the Palestinians and the Rohingya people of Myanmar (BURMA), both made stateless in their own homeland, then it seems that there is no future for us all.
Bill Withers’ famous lyrics come to mind, “Ain’t no sunshine….” The “end is near” predictions abound.
But Black Stalin urges us in his unforgettable style to “look on the bright side”. If we do so we will see that all is not lost, there are many, many positive developments around the world, even if the big news media hardly highlight them. Take the African “boat people” for instance, knocking about from pillar to post seeking refuge, and cold-heartedly turned away from Italy and Malta. The people of Valencia in Spain have exhibited their humanity by providing safe haven, so rare these days in an increasingly racist Europe.
In the USA even the “mighty” Donald Trump was forced by the weight of public opinion and humanitarian expressions, to have to rescind his policy of tearing children from their parents. The sun is still shining, after all. It is demonstrated in the volumes of expressions of solidarity that my family has been receiving in the wake of our tragedy. Many of these people did not know my sister personally but share the sense of outrage.
We have to take this to another level, to let the criminals know that we will not be cowed into submission, that we will always reject crime and murder as instruments of our own oppression. We must know that the sun will continue to shine to lighten our darkness.
Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.