[private] Recently I watched with special interest as New York State Governor Spitzer resigned because of improper conduct. I found it intriguing and totally fascinating. Being removed from office for sexual misconduct is totally alien to the typical Bay Islander. As a boy growing up on Roatan during the 1950’s and 1960’s, married prominent citizens having multiple sexual partners were the norm, not the exception.
What is even more unusual is that this practice has remained consistent through the years. During the period that I served as senior advisor to former Bay Islands Governor Dorn A. Ebanks, at the turn of the century, I had occasions to discuss this tradition or practice with numerous high ranking government officials. What truly amazes is that being monogamous has no special merit or usefulness as an office seeker.
I have been married to the same wonderful lady for 33 years, prior to being wed, we dated for seven years. That means we have been in a special relationship for over 40 years. Does this provide me with bragging rights for honesty, reliability and dependability? Not at all! In many circles this is viewed as a liability and not an asset. The man who has various concubines is seen as the real man! Having a wife is okay, but possessing multiple additional sex partners is perceived as being the ideal candidate. It demonstrates a certain machismo and has popular appeal to the electorate. Not only does being a womanizer not hurt your political career, it actually enhances it. It gives you special status and special appeal with most voters. In the United Sates and other developed countries, if you are a government official and it is revealed that you have been cheating on your spouse; your political career is probably over. And, depending on the circumstances, you may even face legal challenges. The presumption being, if you can cheat on your spouse, someone you promised to be faithful to before God and witnesses, then you are capable of cheating anyone. Makes perfect sense to me, perhaps to even many of you. Remember the old saying? “Once a cheater, always a cheater.”
Here in the Bay Islands however, and you can include the mainland as well, different standards apply. Brief anecdote: discussing my marriage with a colleague, I described how we met, fell in love and got married, and then remained faithful to each other over the years. His response? “Are you telling me a man in your position is content to have just one woman? Are you crazy?,” he continued, “I love French Bananas, but not everyday! I want Apple Bananas, Platanos, Red Bananas, Chatas, and all the other varieties.”
You need to expand your repertoire if you want to really impress the public. I said: “my friend, if I’m driving a Cadillac, why would I want to downgrade to a Beetle or a Pinto?” Besides, the Bank of Fidelity and Trust has very stringent rules, one single deposit in a foreign bank can close your account permanently. There appears to be a double standard however, because female officials do not seem to fare as well under similar circumstances. I would argue that ignorance has played a major role in perpetuating these types of social conditions.
Educating our people has been one of our most illusive goals. Certainly we cannot afford to give up, but until the people possess the knowledge and will to take an active stand against these types of absurd, puerile, sexist, chauvinistic, cheap-jack practices, the status quo will continue uninterrupted. Those of you who frequently read my columns know that I consider the lack of moral leadership to be at the center of our dilemma. In selecting our leaders, if one of the missing qualities is honesty, you can start right here.
How honest and reliable is a candidate, or official who has no qualms or misgivings of cheating on a spouse. Don’t you think that the womanizers, cheaters and philanderers should have to pay a price for their illicit, illegal conduct? I believe that any man, or woman who is comfortable cheating, in some cases with multiple partners, on their spouses, is fully capable of cheating the general public.
Convincing the public at large that this is factual may be a horse of a different color. It has long ago been proven that the easiest people to deceive and control are the ignorant. And in that regard, we have more than our share. One has to question just where on the intelligence scale you place a society that penalizes and discredits honesty and fidelity, while at the same time, rewards dishonesty and trivializes integrity. To compound the situation, many of our newest arrivals from the mainland, have never attended school on any level. I have also seen statistics that suggests less than one fifth of present day school age kids are actually attending school. Schools that are at best ineffective to begin with. So, where are we heading? Without new effective moral leadership, very little will change. Considering the demographics today, Roatan needs leadership that can demonstrate some gentleness and humility. We have had more than our share of divisiveness and acrimony. Instead we could use some healing, sensitivity, graciousness and civility. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) wrote: “Eternal truths will be neither true nor eternal unless they have fresh meaning for every new social situation”. Don’t you think this would be a good place to start? We have many customs and traditions that are worth preserving. I assure you this is not one of them. [/private]