EDITORIAL: WHAT DO WE STAND FOR?

anguillian
By anguillian August 21, 2017 12:15

 

 

What do we stand for? If we were to be asked this question, as Anguillians, what would be our answer? I recently thought about this as I watched the drama in Charlottesville, Virginia, unfold in the US media over the past week. As many would be aware, white supremacists, groups including the KKK, Neo-nazis and the Alt-right, converged on Charlottesville to hold rallies to spread their message of racism and hate. A group of counter-protesters, supporting equal rights, engaged in verbal and physical clashes with the white supremacists. Violence erupted which resulted in the death of a young woman and the injury of several other persons.

In the days that followed we heard several pronouncements, from various political leaders, denouncing the white supremacists and indicating that there is no place for them in America. Over and over we heard that there is no place for bigotry and racism in America and that America is for all people. However, after a series of botched media appearances, it is unclear where the President of the United States, the Leader of the free world, stands on this issue. It may well be that America once again finds itself in a moral dilemma, a racial dichotomy, a new order – what does it really stand for?
All of this prompted me to think of Anguilla, and what do we stand for? What are our core values as a people? Do we believe in equality for all people who call Anguilla home? Do we believe in equality for all Anguillians whether they acquired that status by birth, descent or naturalization, or do we want to discriminate in favour of those born in Anguilla? How do we believe people who come to live and work in Anguilla should be treated? Do we have biases against people whose native language is not English? Do we believe in exclusion or inclusion? We may have individual answers for these questions, but what is the national answer? Do we have a clear indication of what Anguilla stands for – what are our core beliefs?

We sing in our National Song:
“With heart and soul
We’ll build our nation
Proud, strong and free
We’ll love her, hold her
Dear to our heart for eternity
Let truth and right our banner be
We’ll march ever on”.

If we are to assume that this song encapsulates some of our core values, we will agree that these values include national pride, strength, freedom and standing up for truth and for what is right. To whom do these core values apply? Do we use them to guide our decisions or policies when dealing with all residents, or are they reserved for certain groups in our society? These are the questions we must ask ourselves because currently there are no clear answers.

However, we ought to go a step further: what do we stand for morally? What are our moral standards? Our summer festival has just ended and while I appreciate that this is a festive celebration of emancipation, does this mean that moral standards are to be discarded for this period? Does it mean that lewdness, nudeness, rudeness and drunkenness are acceptable to us? Does it mean that any lyrics are acceptable? That any attire or no attire is alright? That excessive consumption of alcohol is encouraged? That sexual misconduct in public is the accepted norm? Is it that anything goes, as Earthlight put it in his popular song: “Fun, fun, fun, fun”?

Some will say that it is summer festival and people are just enjoying themselves, but my response to that is that people do not change because it is the summer festival – the summer festival just provides the opportunity for them to throw caution to the wind and show who they really are. Sadly, who they are paints a dim picture of the state of morality in Anguilla and makes me worry about what moral standards we will pass on to future generations. While I have no doubt that what happens during our summer festival is quite similar, and may be tame, to what happens during such festivities in other countries, what has happened to our claim that “Anguilla is unique”? Should it not apply in these circumstances? Should we not hold ourselves to higher moral standards, while enjoying all the fun the festival has to offer?

Again, from an ideological and moral perspective, I ask the question: what do we stand for?

anguillian
By anguillian August 21, 2017 12:15

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