Since my tender years as a toddler, my mother always instilled in me that I must learn to think and act on my own behalf and not at the insistence of others. Indeed, I vividly remember her preaching and her pleadings, prodding me not to take things at face value but to always verify information for my own benefit; no matter the nature of the source.
Little did she know that that statement which she made was the last thing from her mouth that I would accept without query because from that moment forward, I questioned everything that she and every other person said in order to verify it for myself!
During the recently concluded election campaign, I made it my business to spend time by the bars, bakeries and bus stops. However, I did not initially envisage that I would become so sorely depressed and disappointed by the drivel which emanated from so many individuals who latched on hook, line and sinker to the nursery rhyme tales of our politicians.
It has been made manifestly clear to me that very few seem prepared to ask questions but are rather quite content with accepting and digesting, wholesale, whatever the politicians from their respective parties feed them. I listened to so much nonsense and misinformation being peddled for this recent campaign that I am persuaded that Dr Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda from Nazi Germany, must have been smiling in his grave and shouting, “Hip Hip! Hooray!”
I said it before and I will say it again; I am convinced that if certain political personalities stand on a platform and say that the sun is purple, there are several amongst us who will regrettably look to the sky and shamelessly assert, “Boy the sun look kina purple for tru!” Not a question is asked and not a modicum of research is ever done to verify the authenticity of anything the politicians put out there. Everything is accepted as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… So help us God.
I honestly make these sorts of statements, not with a tinge of humour but with a heavy heart because based on what I have listened to in recent months, I have been forced to question the purpose and value of a 98 per cent literacy rate. Surely, there must be others out there like myself who become just as bemused and confused when they witness how easily so many of our citizens consume the verbal discharge of some politicians.
Too often we complain about politicians manipulating and taking us for fools but we also aid and abet this process by being intellectually subservient to them. As far as we are concerned, Mr X is the party leader and so whatever he does is well done or Hon Z is BRIGHT and so he must be RIGHT. Mark you, there are those who may never in their lifetime pledge allegiance to God, country, husband or wife but seemingly have no difficulty in pledging their full allegiance to a politician.
President Barack Obama is an extremely charming and charismatic political personality, possessed with oratorical skills probably not heard since the days of Martin Luther King and equipped with a law degree from the prestigious Harvard Law School. But for all of his charm and academic qualifications, both Republicans and Democrats have not been hesitant in pressing him with the hard questions or conducting in-depth research into his proposals so as to devise what exactly is the best way forward.
To be frank, this is as it should be and so too should we in St Kitts and Nevis endeavour to deepen our democracy by researching things for ourselves and resisting the temptation of depending on politicians to spoon feed us.
Perhaps, I am washed in the ignorance of my youth and therefore, I am asking a bit too much. I could well imagine how certain political personalities are presently reading this piece and laughing at what they probably deem to be ‘my feeble attempt’ to change the mindset of our people. Even so, I will continue to sound the national trumpet for our citizens to exercise greater sovereignty of mind and independence of thought.
I wholeheartedly believe that it is only in so doing will we actually force our politicians, both in government and opposition, to raise their game and broaden the depth of the debate across our Federation. It is only in being more inquisitive and intellectually demanding will we ensure that our leaders come to us, not merely with the seduction of flash and style but with the stimulated focus and substance needed to conquer the challenges that currently confront our country.
It is only in consistently asking “how”, “why”, “when”, “what” and “where” will we truly be able to hold all our politicians accountable and sift fact from fiction. Think for yourself. (St Kitts Nevis Observer)