“CONSIDER WHAT NATION IT IS WHEREOF YE ARE”

anguillian
By anguillian April 18, 2016 09:49 Updated

 

 

“Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go” James Baldwin.
As we look back and remember the sacrifices that were made by the different people to get us to this point, it hurts to see what has happened to our beloved Anguilla.
Just who are we? Why have we allowed ourselves to be put into a position from which no good will come? Anguillians have always been a passive people and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s just that we trust people to do the right thing. We believe that people in general mean well and we therefore give them the benefit of the doubt.

There is a case to be made as to whether or not that is still true. We have endured more than anyone should have had to, and this might sound redundant, but it needs to be embedded in the Anguillian psyche, for until that happens we will continue to flail about in the winds without any sense of direction.

In 1967 we were all of one accord, “it was now or never” – there was to be no turning back. We went to our mother and said, “we’re outta here.” This arrangement does not work for us. We’d be better off fending for ourselves. And so the revolution was born. It didn’t just happen overnight. We had begged and pleaded. Do something! In 1958 we petitioned the Governor of the Leeward Islands that: “A people cannot live without hope for long without erupting socially.”
Prior to 1967, a couple of Anguillians living and working in England, the late Elliot Webster and Atlin Harrigan O.B.E, had sought out two other West Indians and at a bar on one fateful night in jolly old England, the Anguilla Revolution was born. It was further hastened when front page photos of the devastation caused by Hurricane Donna highlighted the benign neglect of Anguilla by both the British and St. Kitts governments. Families were sleeping in cars and severely damaged homes. It was pathetic. That may have been the catalyst that set in motion a chain of events from which there would be no retreat.
The question that one needs to ask now is who will step up and take the mantle? Who will the next leader be? Whom do we trust? All of last year, and the year before, we sat and listened as the three major political parties and one independent all jockeyed for positions in the upcoming election. At times it was acrimonious and one had to wonder – were these people running to actually help the people of Anguilla or were they on some junket that would lead to self-aggrandizement or what?
Every party and the lone independent all had a plan on how to move Anguilla forward, some better than others, but a plan nonetheless.
In order for a constituency to be a part of a democracy, it becomes inherent that that said constituency be educated as to what its role in the process is. Once you have an informed electorate, then frauds and others can easily be identified and eliminated come Election Day. An informed electorate knows what issues are on the table, what questions to ask and how to analyze what’s being said. Conversely, an uninformed electorate will not know what the issues are and what questions to ask, much less be able to analyze what’s being said.

One of the knocks against us, and it has been for some time, is that we are unsophisticated in the art of political science. We are ill educated when it comes to what we should or shouldn’t do, and it all falls in the lap of our government and our school system. Winston Churchill said that: “If we do not learn from the mistakes of history, we are doomed to repeat them.”
So once again, here we are getting ready to dive off of the cliff, eyes wide shut. We have sat back and allowed government after government to come in and do as they damn well pleased. We have watched as we lost the transshipment, looked on as Britain gradually took away bit by bit our sovereignty, without so much as a whimper. We’ve watched as inept bankers ran our National Bank of Anguilla, founded with our own hard earned cash into the ground. We’ve watched and waited for something to be done to rehabilitate both indigenous banks, more so NBA than CCB. We have watched as we’ve been hit by one calamity after another and without so much as a reprimand going to anyone.
And now we the people find ourselves, because of the inaction, or the downright incompetence of those who should have known what was happening, and taken corrective measures, about to lose all that we fought for. How is this all possible? How is it possible for a bank to not issue statements to its shareholders for over three years? How is it that this sitting government, who I might add was in power from 2000 to 2010, was able to be reelected when all or most of what is wrong with the banks occurred on their watch?

To quote the Honorable Palmavon Webster, sole member of the opposition: “This whole thing stinks.” It does not pass the smell test. Something is definitely amiss here and never have I seen a government as anxious to obliterate a people’s identity and birthright as this one. The Minister of Finance was quick to point out that there is no smoking gun. Well that might be so, but at this point in time, can we truly believe anything that the CM says? After all, wasn’t he the same one who promised to save the indigenous banks and repeal the Stabilization Levy? What happened to change his mind?
Not only do I not trust the CM to tell us the truth, I also don’t trust the ECCB to do the same. They came in under the guise of trying to rescue the banks because the economy had contracted considerably, when in fact they came in because of internal problems that the people of Anguilla were unaware of. Anguilla fought for its own self-determination for the entire world to see and it is with the same self-determination that we will oppose what this government wants to do.

Right now there is a lot of uncertainty in the world. We see it in Europe. We’ve seen what has happened in Brussels, Paris and here in the United States. We see Great Britain getting ready to head to the polls to determine whether or not they should stay in the E.U, the ramifications of which will have a global impact on us as an Overseas Territory. We see us being dragged back into some form of federated alignment with the Little Eight countries, I might add, who offered not one ounce of help to us when we most needed it. Countries that was very much against us when we chose to break away from the Tri-State of St. Kitts Nevis and Anguilla.

We are watching a changing of the guard and it does not bode well for us. For as a part of the British Commonwealth, we fall under that banner of what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. In that Britain has surrendered its sovereignty to the EU, so too has it surrendered the various elements of its national distinctiveness. Power has shifted from the Parliament to the EU headquarters in Brussels. For the country that gave us the Magna Carta and so many other things, it is sad to see what has happened. In his book “Inventing Freedom,” Hannan quotes Lord Denning, the former Master of the Rolls, and the greatest English jurist, who likened EU law to an incoming tide, swelling England’s river mouths and estuaries. Later on he revised that outlook: “Our courts must no longer enforce our national laws. They must enforce community law. No longer is European law an incoming tide flowing up the estuaries of England. It is now like a tidal wave bringing down our sea walls and flowing inland over our fields and houses – to the dismay of all.”
Is it any wonder then that the British people are seeking to make a hasty retreat from the European Union? Hannan seems to think that while the Asian states have liberalized, China and Russia, though they remain closed autocracies, are no longer as totalitarian as they were in the 1980s. While at the same time, though, the English-speaking states are going in the opposite direction, pursuing the Ming-Mogul-Ottoman road to uniformity, centralization, high taxation and state control. He goes on to say: “No wonder they are losing their preeminence.”
That we are watching the British people wake up and starting to fight for their right to self-determination, should serve as a wakeup call for us here in Anguilla. We cannot and should not give up our sovereignty. Our decision to join an organization, the ECCB, may have seemed at the time, a good idea, but it should have been one subject to review. When you look at the yields they are few, therefore in light of what has happened, the time has come to say adieu to the Central Bank and the ECCU. Our destination must be in our hands for we earned that right by virtue of our long and arduous battle.
Our destiny should not be left in the hands of those who contributed zero, nothing, to our efforts in seeking self-determination, and it would be a slap in the face of those brave patriots who are still alive, and those who are no longer with us, to stand by and allow this government to accede control of our lands to some foreign entity.
John Milton in a speech before Parliament admonished those present: “Lords and Commons of England, consider what nation it is whereof ye are, and whereof ye are the governors: a nation not slow and dull, but of quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit, acute to invent, subtle and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that humane capacity can soar to.”

So as I end with the words of Milton: “Let us consider what nation it is whereof ye are.” Let us remember what we fought for. Let us bring back that Anguillian exceptionalism, the things that made us unique, our dogged determination, our stick-to-itiveness. We are as Milton says: “A nation not slow and dull, but of quick, ingenious, and piercing spirit, acute to invent, subtle and sinewy to discourse, not beneath the reach of any point the highest that humane capacity can soar to.” The world is our oyster and our destiny is in our hands. Our time is now. So till next time, may God bless us all and may God bless Anguilla.

anguillian
By anguillian April 18, 2016 09:49 Updated

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