Editorial: WHO THEN IS A PATRIOT?

anguillian
By anguillian December 11, 2017 12:08 Updated

 

 

 

Last Saturday, a legend was laid to rest. Mr Albert A R Lake was, OBE, an Anguillian icon in business, in community and most of all in humanity. His life story is one of achievement through hard work, tenacity and intellect. He was an industrious man who spent much of his time building his empire, but he was also a humble man who willingly gave to others. There are few people in Anguilla whose lives have not been impacted in one way or another by Mr Albert Lake, either as a result of his generosity or the wisdom he imparted in a chance encounter. The words spoken by Bishop Leroy Errol Brooks, at the funeral service about Mr Lake’s humanity and interest in the advancement of others – and in Anguilla as a whole, resonated with all who knew him. He used his assets, business acumen and means to help others improve themselves and in so doing, he helped to build Anguilla. Thankfully, he was recognized nationally and by Her Majesty the Queen for his contribution to nation building. When one thinks of a patriot, it is easy for Albert A R Lake to come to mind.

There are many persons who tout themselves as being patriots. They claim to love Anguilla and pledge their loyalty to her. But I daresay, being a patriot is much more than a self-conferred title. Again I must refer to the compelling words of Bishop Brooks at Mr Lake’s funeral service when he reminded us that in order to be great, we must be prepared to be humble servants willing to serve/ help others; in order to be first, we must be prepared to be last. Patriotism then, is not so much about how much we say we love Anguilla, it is not so much about standing for the National Song, waving the national flag or shouting the loudest when we feel whichever Government is in power is not looking out for our interests. Patriotism is not about fulfilling our own egos so we can brag on social media about what or how much we have done. Rather, patriotism is quiet consistent action that involves how we live our daily lives as responsible citizens, how we treat others when no one is watching and there is nothing to gain for ourselves. It is the time we invest in raising our children and our neighbour’s children with sound morals; helping those around us, so that not only do we do well but everyone does well – and by extension so does the country. Patriotism is synonymous with loyalty and as in any relationship, our loyalty to Anguilla is not measured so much by a singular act but repeated actions over time which demonstrate our commitment to her survival and wellbeing.

I am in no position to judge others, but we must ask ourselves, who among us is a patriot? While some may disagree, I do not believe that patriotism is defined by nationality, race, class or any artificial grouping we have imposed on human kind, over time, to justify discrimination. There are many non-Anguillians, for example, who have demonstrated patriotism to Anguilla during their years among us. One such well-known person is the owner of the Cuisinart-Art Golf Resort and Spa and the Reef at Cuisinart, Mr Leandro Rizzuto who passed away this week. The Anguillian newspaper extends sincere condolences to his family and friends on his passing. Over the years, Mr Rizzuto has demonstrated that he is a true partner in Anguilla’s development. While an astute businessman, he invested in people. He ensured that his staff and other young people received training opportunities for their advancement; he provided the staff opportunities to be shareholders in the business and he always ensured that regardless of any difficulties faced by the resort, the wellbeing of staff was given priority. I am certain you can identify many other residents of Anguilla who, while not Anguillian, have demonstrated true patriotism.

Oftentimes, patriotism is linked with nationalism, and while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to exclusionary/ discriminatory practices, and in extreme cases, to xenophobia (intolerance or dislike of foreigners). In Anguilla we have to guard against this. The world is a global village and, quite frankly, we cannot build Anguilla on our own. This was made even clearer following the passage of Hurricane Irma. The assistance we received from our Caribbean neighbours and the international community was overwhelming and it helped us through some difficult weeks.

There is a thin line between what persons think is patriotism and xenophobia and there is a phrase we toss around often: “Anguilla for Anguillians”. While on the face of it, there is nothing wrong with this, we ought to be careful that we are not sending the message that Anguilla is not for anyone else and others are not welcomed here. Loving Anguilla does not mean we must keep her to ourselves. Rather, it should mean that we can open our hearts to others and helpsthem to assimilate into our society. Who then is a patriot? Not necessarily the person who labels him or herself as such, but the person who lays the foundation for a better Anguilla everyday through ordinary actions with positive impact.

anguillian
By anguillian December 11, 2017 12:08 Updated

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