Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal region and small island papers 5

   What we want to happen ...

Some of us dare to say that we can see and so we cry out to others. Our call is not so much a proclamation issued from a high tower of reason, but a whisper to fellow sufferers, to feel for the end of the tunnel, to escape the horror that stealthily stalks us. We want to embrace new values arming ourselves with new ways of thinking so that when we walk somewhere in the distant future, we will have with us the methods and strategies to make the right choices; to wage good war and never again be slaves on the treadmill of decay that today we have placed ourselves upon. And we want this not just for ourselves but for the children – the pre-schoolers and the older ones and the children yet to come. We want it for the rich and the not-so-rich (for perhaps if we do it right, there will not be so many poor). We want it for all peoples everywhere, that they would all be granted vision and that in time, their hearts might change.

   Who will do it?

We have many helpers. It matters not where they come from or how they come, just that we may join our hearts together and then our hands in action. If they come unprepared but willing, we will welcome them. We long to have the teachers for, faithful to their daily duties, they can ignite imaginations and inspire countless thousands and their words are remembered almost to eternity.

And then there are the players with dots and dashes, from Morse codes to morning television talk shows. The media, from press room to distant satellite, all wait for our command. Animated though they may seem, they are but tools in powerful hands of those who use and own them, programming messages which inject the minds of myriad peoples. So we too should use them.

Do not forget the singers and dancers, the woodcarvers and the story tellers, the whispers of ancestors’ voices in the wise sayings of the long departed. Let us dance the message to the old drumming, let us sing our story to the quiet children, let us carve it on mahogany and green heart, that a monument to the wisdom of tending our land and seas may be erected. Let it be painted in the murals of the city and on the small canvas on the artist’s easel. And though some may distrust them, we must still serve the politicians as they rule our land. Their decrees reach us, whether for torment or ease and we abide by them. So let us teach the politicians to see the vision. Do not forget the preachers, for though some may scorn and scoff at them, revile and even abandon them, they are the best leaders of this pilgrim band.

   How will we do all this?

We will do it by trying. By starting with what we have: in the schools at every level; sharing what is there and hidden. We will persuade the politicians. If they want facts and figures we will give them. If they worry about money, we will help them to remember that once these lands and seas were beautiful and rich. We will feed our morsels to the singers, to the players and to the actors. We will bring wood for the sculptors and with prayers and hope, wait for the thrilling tale, the rapturous dance, the giddy monument, the song, the skit, the vision that may persuade more followers to come.

We will drop our message at the street corners. Shove it into the whispers and rumours that scamper through our cities and our villages. Let it be shouted across the open fields, let it become a byword even among beggars and vagrants, for even their lot might change if the chorus rises rich and real enough across this land. We may have to write books and poetry and television commercials, radio scripts, sermons, songs and notes for choreographic scores….And we can.

   When will it happen?

It is happening even now and we seek to be the catalysts, the bringers of the epiphany. It will happen first mostly with the willing, so that we may not be too soon discouraged. Then as we count our successes, we will take on tougher trials as our endurance increases and our muscles grow stronger.

   Where will it happen?

It will happen throughout the Caribbean. Down by the quayside and in the quiet harbour. Among the sandwiches and teas of high Government officials’ meetings; on top the files of bureaucrats and underneath the tables of industrialists. It will be happening with large toys and loud songs in the pre-schools and on-stage and back stage and in the rehearsal rooms; in sleepy afternoon schools and between bristling boots and armoury; in pews and on kneelers; before altars and incense, bells and candlesticks, placards, voters’ ink and registration. It will happen everywhere that the Blue Caribbean kisses, urging a resurrection and an awakening.

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