EDITORIAL: LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN
We have entered a New Year when there is an overlapping of many of the challenges we faced in the Old Year. No time in our modern history seems so important to us like 2017. For us, as a people, in what should be a developing island nation, the 50th Anniversary of the Anguilla Revolution, to be celebrated on May 30, will be a high point and a significant milestone in our forward movement. It was on that date in 1967 when we threw off the shackles of a double colony, of St. Kitts-Nevis and the United Kingdom, and ventured on a path to self-determination. We have progressed in the sense that our constitutional and political links with the rest of the federation (St. Kitts-Nevis) have been formally severed, but we continue as one of the Overseas Territories governed by the UK with some hope of autonomous status in the future.
As we look forward to the big celebration in May, our beloved and revered Revolutionary Leader and Father of the Nation, James Ronald Webster, is dead but we must go on. Arguably, there is no other leader is sight who possesses the mantle to lead us to the Promised Land so to speak – a land of plenty and opportunity for all. Able and sustained leadership is important on every hand for it is this that will enable us to surmount many of the challenges we face today. It is the quality of leadership that will help us to define the way forward in terms of economic and social development by creating inward investment, flourishing jobs, and better standards of living for our people.
But while leadership has its varied responsibilities and demands, the people themselves must make a positive contribution to the quality of life they desire so that there is an all-round collective responsibility. Too many of our people have become mere critics, self-centred, prophets of doom, and even destructive of everything that is well-meaning. We need their commitment and loyalty if we have to achieve greater advancement in the next fifty years.
It is clear that we need to create our own niche in the world society. It will call for the lifting up of ourselves by our own bootstraps. This includes paying our taxes – as burdensome as they may appear; creating for ourselves and the benefit of others, businesses and opportunities that will lead to national development; and working towards a disciplined and crime-free society where there is harmony and respect for all. It is in such a climate that our tourism economy will strive and meaningful investment will flow into our island. But that investment must also come from within our own shores thus creating a culture of local ownership and pride.
Right now Anguilla’s needs are many. There is a growing urgency for improved education and health infrastructure; national health insurance and disease control are among many other crucial needs and wants. It is a pity that a small island like Anguilla – basically poor in various respects – does not qualify for international aid because of having a presumed higher standard of living than some of its neighbouring territories. It is a feeling of betrayal when our own motherland deprives us of the financial grants we so desperately need. It is not too much to expect that the UK Government could have bailed us out of our banking problem for instance, and set us on a course of success without attaching any strings to such a bailout regardless of the circumstances that got us there. But that is a matter for greater debate and analysis.
It is our hope that Anguilla will finally overcome its many economic and financial challenges and that, in the not-too-distant future, the banking sector, one of those challenges, will not only survive but make real progress and flourish in the competitive corporate world of banking and finance.
We are at “The Gate of the Year”, according to the poetic writing of Minnie Louise (1875-1957) which has inspired many in desperation over the years. That poem reads:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.
And he replied:
Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way. So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
May those words strike a chord with us as a people in an island-nation facing many uncertainties and challenges.