Our political campaigns are most revealing. They tell us many things about our particular world in the Caribbean. They speak to us of our penchant for a good time, for celebration. They speak to us of the unbounded energy which dwells in the depths of our people, energy which is waiting to be tapped. They tell us most poignantly what could be achieved by a transformation leader.
It is incredible how affected people are by the announcement of the date of General Election. It is like a call to arms, a call to the defence of the country, something very much akin to the call by Sir Winston Churchill to the people of Great Britain at the beginning of World War II. It is as if the Sleeping Giant suddenly finds new strength.
People understand the General Election date as a call to be galvanized into action for the one thing which matters. "Victory at all costs" is their watchword. We shall not be moved! We shall not be denied! No one is going to stop us now!
New hope, new courage, new strength—to what purpose? Never mind. This is just a detail. It is the strife that matters. Excitement is the name of the game. As one author puts it, "People do not ask whether a thing is reasonable or not, as long as their emotions are aroused."
So emotions are on fire. People's energies are all aflame. No sacrifice is too much for the asking. Nothing can stand between them and their goal. This is war! They are ready for the kill!
There is no doubt that in the Caribbean there is a great depth of enthusiasm that lies buried in the hearts of men and women. It rises to the surface only at times of General Election. What we very much need is a leadership that can capture that burst of zeal, marshal the tremendous resources of goodwill among people, channel them into wholesome activities and drive the nation to heights never before envisaged.
True development consists in turning the hearts of men and women from sordid gain and base pursuits. Development is all about building the moral fibre of the nation, threatened as it is by the perversion and degeneration of educated men and women who are made for lofty ideals. Development can come only when leaders are bold enough to say: "Come on, man. Surely, you can do better than that!"
Development is much more than building roads and buildings. It is much more than a matter of bricks and stones. Development consists in firing the imagination of people, raising their lowly sights, leading them to lofty heights of justice, love and peace. It consists in stemming the tide of hatred and animosity and lifting people to the reign of love.
We claim to be independent. We celebrate national independence every year with great solemnity. Yet, instinctively, we are developing a nation of mendicants. Instead of challenging people to rise above their meanness and their callous neglect of those who are really in need, we enlarge the greed of people. Increased gifts of laptop computers and smart phones, boxes of chicken, freely bestowed on those who have their belly full of food, will not save the country. Challenging people to respect the dignity of everyone and bestow love and bring joy to those who are deprived and in distress are what is needed.
The greatest threat to the world is not material poverty. True, we need to address issues of basic human wants. However, as Scripture says, "Man shall not live by bread alone." What we need is a powerful movement of the Spirit that will raise the sights of our people and inspire them to noble deeds of courage and self-sacrifice.
Enthusiastic rallies and the display of shocking colours will not help us. Bold billboards and giant posters of human faces will not change people. We need transformation leaders of integrity to inspire men and women, challenge them to rise above themselves and lead them to shining paths of glory, beyond what we behold today.
There is a certain immaturity among our leaders and would-be leaders in the Caribbean. In their search for the development of their countries they grasp at the wrong model of governance. Often there is a tendency to adopt a model that is cosmetic, glamorous and intransigent instead of one that is transparent, rejuvenating and conciliatory. This is primarily caused by a certain sense of insecurity and the lack of a knowledge of history, particularly an acquaintance with the rise and fall of nations. When shall we pause, listen and learn?