Respecting Our Utila

January 1st, 2010
by Patrick Flynn

[private] v8-1-Utila PerspectiveRespect comes in many forms and it is something we seem to be missing in our daily lives. Respect is learned at a very early age in our homes and it carries on into how we communicate with people every day of our lives. It saddens me to see and hear the youth of today shouting and screaming at their parents, their elders at home and how little respect and value is found in their daily lives. What has happened to the simple words of ‘yes ma’am’ or ‘no sir’?

I am fortunate to have lived a colorful life for the past half century and I hope my life will continue to be colorful and full of new challenges, affording me the opportunity to demonstrate my respect for life and everyone around me.

Daily, I see our lack of respect for the island with the trash problem we have on our streets and the improper disposal of this trash. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can listen to many of our tourists passing through Utila. Some have been here before and remember a much cleaner Utila, but then they also realize it is not only a Utila problem. They remember five years ago, Utila was a much cleaner place to walk plus they did not have to play dodge with all the scooters, motorcycles, trucks, cars, and dog poop. Previously, one had to obtain a permit to bring a vehicle onto the island. Today, bring whatever you want and as much as you want with no restrictions.

The streets of Utila are congested and the fumes from all these vehicles will soon affect our daily health with respiratory problems; if people are not already sick. There is no designated parking for vehicles; drivers stop in the middle of the road to gossip creating more congestion; and now drivers are talking on their cell phones or sending text messages. By the way, how many of these drivers on Utila have a valid driver’s license?

Has anyone heard of traffic management? This would be a simple way for us to show respect for our island of Utila as a whole. A study needs to be done to determine the safe flow of traffic on the streets of Utila, and the speed these vehicles should be traveling. Case in point, look at when the ferry is departing, when it returns, or whenever a freight boat arrives with needed supplies for Utila. Look at the amount of congestion of people and vehicles. This is a perfect example of an accident waiting to happen.

Utila is a tranquil island and will continue to grow. In which direction do you want Utila to grow? The eyes of the world are looking at Utila on the internet. What do you want them to see? Remember, we did not have 24-hour power until 2004. Since then, we have been catching up with the world and the world has been watching us. The world wants to see leadership with respect for everyone and everything having to do with Utila. Leaders need to display their honesty, their integrity, and respect for the community of Utila to prosper and grow.

I remember a famous quotation, “Ask not what our country can do for us, but rather what we can do for our country.” Remove the word country and replace it with Utila. What kind of Utila do you want? During the past election, I sat at one of the voting tables with my wife, while my sister sat at another table, simply to make sure everyone voting did so in a respectful manner. We knew the entire world was watching the elections this time and we wanted to make sure we could say, “we were part of a respectable system,” when all was said and done.

How did you show respect for yourself, your family, and for Utila when you voted on Sunday, 29 November 2009? Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say that you voted with honesty and integrity? Look at where you live and the life you are living with your family. Now look at how you voted to see if your life will improve and look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? Can you respect yourself?

Right or wrong, we all make choices in our lives and we live with the decisions we make. What do you want for yourself? What do you want for your family? What do you want for Utila? Man, woman or child, you can make the difference. It is for you to decide how the world is looking at Utila? What do you want them to see? What would you say to the visitor you greet on the streets of Utila? They need to see Utila working together as a community and as a winning team. Together everyone achieves more. [/private]

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