Our vanishing Dominican society as we knew it
Today there is a frightening and ominous transformation of Dominica's small communities due to the problems of political partisanship and polarization. Is It because of the actions, words and behaviors of politicians who think of themselves as larger than life? Or is it because of the silly actions of their collaborators and attorneys or have lost all respect and credibility and have become nothing but papyshows and jokers? I asked a 70 something year old man from the south east to describe what it was like growing up and living in Dominica back in the day. The man explained, 'People helped each other and almost everyone ironed out their differences in time. There was certainly no politics as we know it today'. He continued to say that 'our country is dying a slow death with the myopic politics and characters that has invaded our land from within. The very core or our souls are being yanked away'.
But this sense of interconnectedness so colorfully portrayed by that old man was certainly an enduring Dominican archetype not too long ago. I told him that was the order of the day when I was growing up in the 70's back in La Plaine. During that period, Dominican's villages and hamlets were oriented from the bottom up—a feature that contrasts drastically with today where politicians want and take credit for anything and everything that is good and decent. These politicians have constructed a new archetype and they are trying hard to fundamentally restructure our society with a top- down system. Their construct is a top (upstairs/downstairs) stance looking down into the valley where the 'rest' lives. Even the death announcements allude to this new archetype by paying homage to this and that politician who the decease never met or know when they were alive. Back in the day have you ever remember hearing on WIBS or DBS radio death announcements that politician A 'mourns de loss' of Ma Ann? What have we become and what is that?
More recently, however, things have changed for the worse? The circumstances that once compelled Dominions to develop familiar and more intimate and organic relationships with their neighbors and cousins have faded. While we are flying our political flags and wearing our coloured T -shirts and calling talk shows with sometimes loud and empty hosts, we ought not to be so naïve as to think that that those 'new' relationships don't come at a huge societal cost. These elements of the new social archetype should not be celebrated. Are these so called talk show hosts been partly responsible for ordinary Dominican folks becoming increasing walled off from people who hold different political points of view. The massacre that occurred in Rwanda some 20 years ago was fueled by non-other the other than empty and loud and talk show hosts.
One would want to believe that the unprofessional and shameful partisanship display in today's House of Assembly where supposedly Honorable men and Gentle ladies 'reside' is some sort of elitist and arrogant anomaly. But sadly due to this new construct archetype, it has become the order of the day. As well, regular Dominicans living their everyday lives have also been pushed to partisan extremes. If we want to understand why our small island nation has become so polarized, we need to examine what has happened to the social ties that shaped the way we understood the world and each other. The spirit of compromise, mutual understanding and respect that so many Dominicans have claimed appears to have disappeared recently and rapidly. The 64 million dollar question is why and who us responsible? Your guess is just as good as mine. But the element of compromise that had been one of the cornerstones of Dominican community life has more recently come undone and unhemmed. Who do you think is responsible and why and what are the long term implications for our island home and our people? If we continue on this trajectory, we the native sons and daughters will continue to slide and fall by the way side and become disenfranchise and downtrodden strangers in our homeland.