Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our charming, peaceful Caribbean: Paradise temporarily lost

By Horace Williams

Like a string of beautiful emeralds, our charming Caribbean islands mesmerizingly hang around the neck of the American continent. Chiseled by British, French, Spanish and Dutch artisans, each gem became a uniquely precious diamond, or ruby, or prized pearl -- a true acme of perfection.

Born in St Vincent, Horace Williams graduated from Humber College in Toronto, Canada, in marketing management. He also graduated from Brooklyn College (NY) in real estate. He owns and operates a real estate, mortgage and business consulting company, and is the recipient of many accolades and awards for his accomplishments over the years.Our beautiful beaches were peaceful places, where majestic mountains magically rose out of the seductive sea. Secluded swimming and snorkeling in the warm waters beneath the rugged waterfalls made the majesty of the oceans merge into the beauty of the beach's stunning but solitary stretch of soft sand. This emerald gulf coast is a tropical paradise, where impressive waves are wonderfully woven into charming crystal whirlpools of welcoming warm water.

The whispering wind whipped our scanty clothing like a fluttering flag on a weathered flagpole, and we could detect the aroma of tonight's dinner lazily drifting towards us in the cool crisp evening air. ...But something was changing. Yes, something was being altered. Our senses were adjusting to change... not necessarily for the better... and we were accommodating them. The evolution was slow but certain -- and steady.

We could feel it. Our friends say they could see it. The nation was touched by it. The neighbours -- they could taste it, and our pets... they could sense it. Yes it -- something -- was not right any longer. In my veins; in my blood; in my sub-conscious, I just knew that we, as a people, had lost our peaceful virginity. It was gone. Taken -- no, stolen -- from us. We were no longer the peaceful, innocent, cavalier, fun-loving people we once were. The devil had arrived by sea and by air. He had arrived in the guise of "progress," and his name was Lucifer.

He, and his relatives, had arrived each day, and we welcomed them. They multiplied. They were beginning to take over our lives. ....And we did not realize that we were slowly going down the highway of destruction. The guns came with them, and the knives did too. They were stealthily concealed in their luggage and the Customs officers were none the wiser... or were they? Slowly, we were drifting into a long, lost land, and did not even realize we were miraculously moving. God was speaking to us, and we did not listen. His words fell on deaf ears while we were hustling for the almighty dollar.

Today a man was mercilessly killed and a woman was fatally shot... at close range. Last month my sister was kidnapped, then murdered, her naked body found as it degenerated and disintegrated into manure for the hungry vegetation in the lonely forest. I cannot remember the last week we did not have a brutal murder in our peaceful Caribbean. I called up north, and I called down south, but the answer was the same. Violence had overtaken the land. My land. Our land. The gods wept, and the floods came, but we did not get the message.

It did not start this way though. It was subtle. It was faint and illusive. It was inconspicuous, indirect, indistinct and insulated, but profound. Half-truths and white-lies were told... but those, we just took for granted. Lies continued to be told like they were nobody's business -- but they were your business, and they definitely were my business. Rumours of banana boats not arriving and shipments suspended circulated, and the farmers were disheartened.

The earth shook, and thousands died. Someone was trying to get our attention, but the signal was not received. We did not heed. We did not hear -- the warning. Curfews were imposed, prisons were exposed, and a state of emergency was enforced. We looked at the telly and decided to copy. Lawlessness was the order of the day -- and the night.

Authority was disrespected. Election results... disregarded. Demonstrations, whether warranted or not, occurred. Fire-trucks were overturned and police officers were assaulted. Thank God, the law exercised restraint, but disorder ruled the day. Missiles were hurled at peace officers and the state's Parliamentary gates were battered beyond belief. ...And blood flowed.

But all of that was not enough! Fires were ignited and damage was caused. We were told that more fires were on the way, and that other acts of incivility would certainly follow. Then we heard it! I didn't want to believe it. That could not be true. But it was! Dem boys say that guerrilla warfare was coming to the land. Men were shot in their homes; others were attacked, while jewelry was stolen. Young and old disappeared -- kidnapped -- then their bodies found whenever... wherever. Criminal gangs roamed the land and turned our slice of paradise into a brittle and broken battle zone.

Wiki leaked, and leaked, and leaked and told us about prime ministers and opposition leaders, some of which made us proud... and some had us hanging our heads in absolute shame. In the courts, men were found guilty of lying. Our system of decency was drastically deteriorating. Defamation of character lawsuits were successful as the lies persisted, and my peaceful Caribbean seemed to be going to the dogs. ....And that was insulting to the dogs!

This culture of violence must not be encouraged, and something has to give.

...And it will, because we stood up against it.

We decided to do something about this sad, sick and sorry state of affairs. We will fight back. We must fight back. We must join forces to combat this violence and crime. This is totally unacceptable. We will turn back the hands of time!

From the Bahamas to Guyana, and Trinidad to Bermuda, we must unite to defeat this malady. Success starts with the decision that "we are not going to take this anymore." We are sick and tired -- of being sick and tired.

Let us join forces, put our heads together, and solve this problem for all of us. The criminals must not win... we will take our beautiful, peaceful Caribbean back.

December 17, 2011