The Next Revolution
I write at the risk of facing the wrath of the powerful and mighty, but I must write because I'd rather face scorn at the present, than be frowned upon by the next generation who would have depended on me to have done better.
Now, I have been observing a recent trend of politics in Dominica, and there are issues, which if not addressed, may lead my country back to the past; back to the era of the failed Divine Authority Theory.
Subscribers to the divine theory believe that "a ruler has legitimate authority to govern if and only if that authority in some way comes from the authority possessed by God, whose rule over human beings is supposed to be unquestionable" (Hampton, 1997, p.6).
Well, in some ways, this is exactly what I see in the Prime Minister of Dominica, and heard from him when he said that "I make no apologies for giving the money to the Bishop. I carry out instructions from above and it is not me who gave the church but the Lord who gave the church the money. So those of us who want to criticize a good deed, are not criticizing me but is (sic) criticizing the Lord so be very careful what we criticize." (as qtd. by DNO). Mark you, there are several instances when a halo of divinity had been placed over PM Skerrit, but this statement was just too brazen. At the time of his statement, the PM was defending his EC$500, 000 donation made to 'the Bishop' of Roseau.
This is classical Divine Authority, it is ridiculously reckless and it is the festering field for a revolution. I say so on the strength of documented history in the following specific cases.
The Haitian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was sparked by the hierarchical tendencies of the governing class. Slavery was upheld by the authority as a necessary practice. According to the governing class the people of colour lacked the ability to deliberate rationally and effectively, and were devoid of even the most basic human capacities; including the rights to their citizenship. However, this changed when the Haitians, armed mainly with what they were said to be lacking, took on the mighty French regime and defeated them…and declared their freedom. Divine authority was said to have been bestowed on France's rulers from the descendants of Kings who themselves took their authority from God, but the people toppled that authority with their collective might.
The American War of Independence
The American war for independence or the revolutionary war was sparked by the same phenomena; the control and hierarchical or authoritative rule of the British. The American people revolted, and after much bloodshed, they earned their independence! America broke away from the system of Divine Authority and installed a governing system which receives it ultimate power and authority from the citizens (the people), not God. We will deal with other more contemporary revolutions in follow-up discussions.
The more I analyze Mr. Skerrit's statement, the more I am convinced either one of two things is true:
The PM had been handed a script which he did not take the time to decipher before he deliberated on it, or
The PM is perfectly aware that his statements are out of whack with the present realities, but he insisted, hoping that the 'Divinity Syndrome' would simply fly-by and miraculously silence the critics.
Well, he is wrong to think that this sort of rhetoric would work in this enlightened era. If, according to the PM, he only 'carry out instructions from above and it is not [he] who gave the church but the Lord who gave the church the money', what is to prevent another leader from claiming that the 'Lord' has sent him or her to replace the PM? There is no proof to this claim, and even trying to make sense of this makes no sense.
Leaders are called. Those who are called are generally inspired and must be elected or chosen by the people in order that they can rule. That choosing - voting - must be allowed to be done by the 'free will' of 'the people'. All sides in the process must feel that the system for electing their leaders is fair and transparent. When this is done, the people then direct the actions of their rulers. In fact, this is how it has been in our democracy, and this is what democracy dictates. Leaders do not lead in isolation; they lead or rule within a team and that team is the people who are being led.
When a leader begins claiming divine authority and supremacy beyond and above 'the people', 'the people' are being alienated and they must stop and think. When a people think, they are awakened. When a people are awakened, especially following a series of provocative and questionable leadership issues, revolution ensues or is expedited; we are not strangers to this in Dominica.
Where there is revolution there is change and anyone who tries to force the hands of change is only expediting the very process of change. Revolution is always taking place.
Let it be known that history won't be kind to those who knew better and failed to do better at the time when it was imperative for them to so do; I choose to be on the right side of history. Let the next generation smile on the dismay which I may no doubt feel because I dare to speak. I speak guided by my God-given conscience, which is everyone's right to do.
We can disagree about politics without hating and insulting each other.