Firing the imagination
Our Great Master, Jesus, once told his disciples, "I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already." (Luke 12:49) Indeed, this statement is one of the most significant expressed in the Gospels, which we Christians claim as our springboard for action and for our relationship with the world. But we need to ask ourselves "Where is that fire?"
Often we light a fire. It dispels the darkness; it enlightens our path and provides energy for human activity. But we have to keep the fire burning. We have to do refuelling. This we do not do, but allow the fire to be extinguished. The result is that the darkness becomes thicker and the fire which should produce energy for listless souls goes out and this impedes human activity.
One thing which is grossly lacking in us as a people is someone who can fire our imagination. Mark you, there is much work which is being done in this country. But we need most of all vision and inspiration. The problem is not so much with our body as it is with our mind.
We live in a society which communicates certain principles to us. They hang around our necks as an albatross. No one can get rid of them. But not all of them are inspiring.
Most of us are victims of a certain mind-set. To be mentally balanced is to think like the rest of the community. If you do not, you are considered a radical. We lose much as human beings because we do not dare to break loose and go it alone.
Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind, writes in 'The Story of My Life':
For, after all, everyone who wishes to gain true knowledge must climb the Hill Difficulty alone, and since there is no royal road to the summit, I must zigzag it in my own way.
The great mistake of developing countries is that, in their endeavour to rid themselves of their material backwardness, they lay emphasis on bare material development. That has been the problem of Africa. It is a big problem for the Caribbean as well. Mere material development cannot solve our problems. In fact, they often increase and complicate them.
The U.S.A, the richest country in the world, has 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's prisoners, excluding the People's Republic of China. There are more than two million people incarcerated in the U.S.A. The illicit drug trade in Latin America is to a great extent fuelled by the tremendous appetite of American society for narcotic drugs. Some countries are labelled "Failed States". Might the U.S.A. not be considered eligible for such a status? Today, Germany is giving the world a much-needed lesson in how to run a correction system. Shall we learn?
There is hope, but we must be willing to stop, think and listen. The mere acquisition of knowledge and skills will not help. They do not of themselves solve our problems. We must use our imagination.
On April 17, 2016, at the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the ordination of to the priesthood of Cardinal Kelvin Felix, there was a special message for Dominica. As I listened to the Papal Nuncio, I concluded that I was blessed with the most impressive and inspiring homily I had heard for more than fifty years. Indeed, Archbishop Girasoli challenged my imagination. Here are some of his gems:
God does not take mediocrity. Do not give to God just your spare time. We ought to practice the priority of listening to God. Do not despair. Try to resist the temptation of leaving Dominica to go overseas to get a job. Dominica needs you. To love each other is the pillar of our faith. Love is the pillar of Christianity. Excuses are just sophisticated lies. Do not make excuses for not doing good. Do not be afraid of being merciful. Do not be afraid to dream. Cardinal Kelvin Felix, you became the spiritual lighthouse and guide for the Caribbean. Cardinal Kelvin Felix is an icon for the Caribbean, an icon not only to be admired but to be imitated. Let us dream together for this country.
We need a new Pentecost and prophetic voices. We have had enough timidity. We have had enough entertainment. Melodious voices are not lacking. The world needs to be wakened from its sleep. The Church is at her best when she does not merely move with the tide but dares to challenge people to be what they ought to be.