[private] Over four decades ago I was a greenhorn high school student in a residential academy on the Honduran mainland in a community called Peña Blanca in the department of Cortes. There were anywhere from 20 to 25 of us Islanders there at any given time, comprising no more than 10% of the overall student population. We would have been a very insignificant minority except for the fact that we annually made up about 80 – 90% of the school’s honor roll. All other activities however, including diet, were designed to accommodate the customs and preferences of the majority group.
At the end of the school year it was so gratifying to return to our beloved Islands, and once again form part of the majority. Here in the Bay Islands we reigned supreme. Those of us from Roatan used to refer to it as “the Rock”, our Rock. A place where our customs, traditions and language dominated, and our practices and preferences enjoyed priority.
Let’s leap-frog to the new millennium. Where exactly do we stand today? In actuality we are a shrinking minority in a place we used to proudly call home. Those less deserving and least qualified are now making the major political decisions. Of course this is all being done in the name of democracy. Well, what exactly is democracy? Simply put, democracy is all about differences, and contesting them in the public arena. In a real democracy it works because people agree on the fundamentals. Real democratic ideals however, cannot be forced down the throats of those who do not understand it. History lessons in democracy will have to be a topic for another time. Let’s deal with the here and now. I read a story recently about a couple who got married. From the onset there were serious disagreements between them. The marriage was never really solid. So, what was their solution? They decided to have a baby thinking it would bring them closer together. Of course it didn’t. The added strain of the child on the relationship only accelerated their eventual breakup. If the underlying union is not there, adding a child rarely helps. I have seen this scenario played out time after time.
We seldom seem to learn from our mistakes, or from the mistakes of others. George Wilhelm Friedrich Hagel, a German Philosopher (1770-1831) wrote: “what experience and history teaches us is this: People and governments have never leaned anything from history”. Well, I claim exception to this rule. Let me assure you of the following: if the underlying willingness to share power and resources are not present among the different groups in a community, ultimately the dominant group will impose its will. And, as I have mentioned several times before, whenever one group of people gain control over another, they always end up abusing them.
As we enter the 21 century, workers of today and especially tomorrow will need not only more skills than those of past generations, but also access to enhanced training to help them take advantage of future industries and new technologies. In our particular case, we have a workforce that is basically illiterate. Are we cognizant of the seriousness of our current predicament? Describing our situation as a crisis is probably an understatement.
The indigenous population of these islands faces a very uncertain future if present day trends continue. Our crime rate is steadily climbing, our island is becoming a dangerous place and these facts could severely cripple the tourist industry. The majority of school-age children are not attending school with parental approval. What are our esteemed elected officials doing to combat this looming crisis? Burying their heads in the sand perhaps? As far as I am concerned, they have three options. Lead, follow, or get out of the way! They are devoid of solutions and totally bankrupt of ideas for solving our social problems.
People with goals succeed because they know where they are going. If you don’t know where you are heading how can you expect to get there? A wise man once said: “If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind”. This Island desperately needs a qualified captain at the helm. We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. In the words of the greatest civil rights leader of our time, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. where do we go from here? Chaos or Community?[/private]