After a few weeks break, we are happy to be back to share with you in this column. Thanks for all your feedback during 2019. This year I will continue to share with you from my heart. In our last article of 2019 in which we gave our Christmas message, we noted that our land needs healing. The reality is clear – poverty, high unemployment, low economic vibrancy, weak government fiscal situation, citizens lack of confidence in hospital care, moral and social decay, communities that are not visually attractive, litter in public spaces, indiscriminate dumping, and corrupt political governance, among other realities. The state of our nation is grim and worsening - we all know it! That is why many of our young people want to escape this land!

But how do we turn the tide? Well, for one thing – we need better government. On that score, we have heard from many of you loud and clear that the Dominica Freedom Party should continue to build on the foundation it has laid over the last three to five years. We will surely do as we seek to become the next government. Many are joining our efforts and we are encouraged by that. Our website will soon be up where you will be able to register with us as you identify with our message, our messengers and our approach. There will also be a physical location in Roseau where you will be able to visit us and register. This will be announced soon.

But under my leadership, the Dominica Freedom Party will not just follow the usual political script. We cannot just wait to get into government! Our country is just in too much trouble for us to just wait! Even though we are not in office, we will do all we can to help turn the tide in our country. Our efforts will span several fronts including economic and public education. Stay with us as we embark on these efforts which we will announce in due course. But one of the areas in which we will seek to educate the public is that with respect to cultural values and attitudes! Some of these can be positive and healthy ones that we should seek to preserves and propagate as we aspire for a better quality of life for all our people.

But some cultural values and attitudes are negative and thus undesirable and these we need to diminish in our midst if we are to create the kind of Dominica we want. We certainly started working toward that kind of Dominica post-independence. But we faltered in that regard over the last 17 years as many negative cultural attitudes were nurtured by a regime that only seeks to further its narrow private interest rather than that of the whole society.

We can create that kind of Dominica we want - but it will take deliberate strategies to tackle the shackles that hold us back.

So, in the remainder of this article and for the next few articles, we will talk about cultural shackles and what can be done to escape from them. We will focus on the negative economic cultures that hold us back and how to migrate to more positive economic cultures. After dealing with these, we will then talk about our political culture and show how our dominant negative economic cultures contribute to the political culture.

What are the negative economic cultures that can prevent a nation from attaining its full potential? They are: the systemic poverty culture; the passive services culture; the envious culture; the culture of corruption; and the extractive culture. The positive cultures are the dream culture and the commonwealth culture. All these economic cultures exist in all nations, but it is the dominant cultures that determine a nation's prosperity.

Let us start to discuss the first negative culture listed above – the systematic poverty culture. The people with this culture largely accept poverty as their lot in life and they become so locked into that mindset that they do not see themselves or their children getting out of it. They have come to accept little which in itself becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy!

In this culture people largely concern themselves with daily survival and tend to focus on how they will survive over next day or two, or the next week or month.

They don't have a vision for:

• Getting out of the mire or escaping poverty;

• Escaping from living from hand to mouth;

• Escaping not having savings in case of emergencies;

• Escaping their vulnerability to natural disasters and exploitation;

• Providing better housing for themselves and their families;

• Creating wealth rather than being dependent on a government for simple things such as paying utility bills.

In the next article we will discuss the factors that cause the systemic poverty culture to be perpetuated. Follow us as we discuss solutions.

Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party.