To speak of ‘may’ or ‘could’ in relation to the world’s future often seems to be the mode in which many of us are set and for good reason. We often seek this path because we acknowledge that there are few certainties in life and to predict what is to come with certain words such as ‘will’ is almost but sure doom to the ego of those who speak the words. However, for the Caribbean region it seems that in this 21st Century, there is little doubt that in as much as we may not be able to control or predict the future, we will have, at some point to make drastic changes in order to take control of our destiny which, hitherto this time and in this temporal point, was and is out of our dominion. Essentially, History’s Page longs for the day when the Caribbean will write itself into humanity’s annals with conscious self-respect.
Far too long has this region teetered, tottered and crawled on the edge of historical, geo-political and economic oblivion. With the armoury of excuses such as slavery, neo-imperialism and an “unready people” given us by our academics, politicians and national leaders we weave a narrative of and global role for ourselves as dependent, geo-political prostitutes suffering from the wrath of patheticism. The post-independence role of our region is not arguable when using a global lens. For the most part, we have made few successes and strides towards progress with many disastrous mistakes and falls. The few successes highlighted can be even further broken down into two camps; individual and collective. Manley’s Jamaica’s brief revelry in self-determination did not precipitate a chain reaction for the rest. Neither did Barbados’ ascent to global economic recognition facilitate growth in other Caribbean countries. Instead, these individual triumphs remained individual while the collective region struggled to survive.
Likewise, as today’s St. Lucia runs to the top of the podium we do not see even its sister islands of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) holding a coat-tail. What one can ascertain is that the collective regional struggles about which many Caribbean leaders speak has been, from the dawn of colonialism’s toil in this earth, an individual endeavour. Quintessentially, the balkanized consciousness of this family makes our regional Community (CARICOM) a very paltry endeavour at best and void of life in the worst.
That is the past and must be seen as such. Even though the past informs the present, one must understand that it must only do so in modes of our own choosing. To live a present in the same stupor of the past which benefited us little is to accept a life as the perennial joker in the world court entertaining those who seek us no good will.
Positively, constantly living in oblivion allowed us to titivate our spiritual will. Though our backs are broad, we may need them broken in order to move forward. Arguably, it seems we need someone to save us by threatening to kill us. Whether it be by economy, policy or law, the outside world seeks to create us in its own image. This has been the case for many years but at some point there must be a time where what little identity we have will be at its last light. It may be at that last light that we momentarily extinguish finding re-birth like the proverbial phoenix.
I, however, hope not for that day because that would mean that, once again, it would only be from an external force that we feel the need to manage to ourselves properly. Hoped for but breath not held, is the second in the minute of the hour of the day where this region acknowledges its current state in its true form and builds from there. Rhetoric is spewed at the masses that we punch above our weight but we honestly do not do so now. For but a fleeting time in the yesteryear we may have fought a great fight but that time is not now. Complacency induced by delusions of autonomy at a time when we should have been forging ahead brought us to this point where we are to realise that our class compared to the rest of the world appears to be weightless.
The eyes of the world including others in what is known as The Third World, for long, viewed us as gross dependencies, prostituting ourselves to those who now no longer want our paradise; neither in mind nor body. We were happy to be given praise by others while they simultaneously told us our place in this world. Albeit subtextually.
Summarily, when we punched above our weight, as they say, we actually did not. We punched weight that was meant to be punched. Any weight we punch is our weight. Simple. To hold a view that we punch above our weight is to accept defeat at the hands of greater ones because in that statement is a dangerous seed; inferiority. Simply put, for something to be above us we, obviously, must be below it.
On behalf of those who see us as more than a speck of dust in the tale of a shoe and mighty in potential I argue that we shall never punch above our weight! The life under the shoe which was prescribed for us must, by us, be proscribed. It is time, as it always was and always will be, for the Caribbean to make its own room. Unrest the laurels, unchain the body and mind, and forge the brightest path. History’s Page longs for the day where we Caribbean people write a good story just as we cook and eat a good food.