EDITORIAL: WHAT WILL BE OUR LEGACY?
A simple question. But have we really given it much thought? According to the Collins English Dictionary, a legacy is something handed down from our ancestors. It is obvious that leaders like the Father of the Nation, the Honourable James Ronald Webster, and other heroes and heroines of the Anguilla Revolution were concerned about their legacy. They were concerned about what they would hand down to future generations. They were intent on ensuring that those to come had a better life; that they turned Bradshaw’s desert into an oasis so that we could enjoy prosperity. Those leaders and the ordinary citizens were not seeking instant gratification but knew that they were trail-blazers with a responsibility of building a better Anguilla for their children, grandchildren and others. It seemed, then, that our people had a genuine love for Anguilla which hardship and trials could not extinguish.
How many of us can say we have a genuine love for Anguilla? How many of us think about what legacy we will leave for others? What sort of Anguilla will we hand down to generations after us? To help us answer these questions, I have another question: Are we a nation of whiners or are we a nation of builders? Think seriously about that for a moment. It seems all we do in Anguilla nowadays is complain. We complain about everything and everyone. We spread information and misinformation without regard for the virtues of honesty and responsibility. We think only of the short term gratification rather than the long term impact. Many of us claim to do the things we do out of love for Anguilla, but I ask us to ask ourselves this question before we speak or act: How will what I am about to do, or say, help to build Anguilla? Let this be our guide.
Many times I have to wonder whether we are intent on self-destructing. It seems we don’t need any Bradshaw to turn us into a desert. We will do so all by ourselves. One glaring example of our intention to self-destruct is the ongoing whining about the National Commercial Bank of Anguilla (NCBA). The National Commercial Bank of Anguilla was born out of necessity. The choice was clear: should we have two failed local banks which would be devastating for depositors and the economy, or should we try to have one strong local bank which protects the interests of the depositors and the country’s economic viability. For the life of me, I cannot understand why we are still debating this. The writing was on the wall. It was on the wall since the ECCB took over the banks in August 2013, but it took guts and resolve to make the final decision and that is what Chief Minister Banks did. Many who are dissatisfied with the decision are still debating the reason for the state of the two local banks and do not believe there has been closure on this matter. That may be so, however, when one is on a sinking ship, what is more important, finding out why the ship is sinking or climbing aboard a life raft and getting to safety?
The final resolution, though costly, is an investment in the people of Anguilla and, in my view, a worthwhile investment if you think about the concept of legacy. What would have been our legacy if, having been bequeathed two indigenous banks, we could not pass on even one to the next generation? Yet we complain that we only have one bank. Would we have preferred to have none? What workable solutions did the persons with the loudest mouths have, and why were they not implemented when it was in their power to do so? Perhaps because it is easier to whine than to make difficult decisions.
Now that the NCBA has been formed, and is going through a period of restructuring to ensure its viability, as any well run business ought to do, the whining continues and the propaganda machinery is on full blast. While I too am concerned about the loss of employment for some employees, we ought not to interpret this as a sign of the bank’s failure. The bank must make tough business decisions if it is to be successful. Again I remind us of the guiding question: How will what I am about to do, or say, help to build Anguilla? Think about this: Will the failure of NCBA hurt or help Anguilla? We all should know the answer to that question. What then, do we think are the motives of those who are seeking to undermine the public’s confidence in NCBA – and are publicly advocating for its downfall? Do they have a genuine love for Anguilla? Are they thinking about the legacy they will leave for others? When we buy into their rhetoric, are we thinking about what sort of Anguilla we want to hand down to generations after us? Do we want to hand down an Anguilla where there is no local banking sector? Do we want to throw our support behind “overseas” banks which have no vested interest in Anguilla and can pull out anytime if their bottom line is unfavourable? Or do we want to build something that we can be proud to leave our children and grandchildren? NBA and CCB supported many of us when we could not get support from “overseas” banks. Perhaps it is time to reciprocate. It is only with our support can the NCBA succeed. What will be our legacy? Let us be a nation of builders.