[private] Ever since I was a boy, or as long as I can remember, there have been short-sighted officials who wanted to drastically change these islands. A comandante once said to me, “You islanders have to change your ways by adopting the customs and practices of the mainland.” I said, “Where do we begin? Do we start with your elevated delinquency practices, or perhaps with your high teen- aged pregnancy or illiteracy rates?” He threw me out of his office. He correctly took my response as an insult. As our crime rate in the Bay Islands continues to climb and our educational system plummets, our leaders appear to be totally oblivious to what’s going on around them.
Let’s face it, Bay Islanders have always been looked down upon by the mainland elite. We have never been treated as equals, and in many respects have been exploited. I have always been proud of my heritage, and I was privileged to be part of a society for several decades where the quality of minds mattered. It has been devastating for me personally to see our customs, traditions and way of life being destroyed due to ignorance and greed. It is time to break away from this vicious cycle. Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved except by those who dared to believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance. So where do we go from here – chaos or community? I believe it depends a great deal on what happens next.
We would do well to remember that destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. Progress always involves risks. You cannot steal second base and keep your foot on first. We must take control of our destiny. Our schools are failing; we need and deserve better healthcare; squatters are depriving us of our ancestral lands with the blessings of our corrupt justice system. To avoid total chaos we must elect new leadership with the will and skill to take us in a new direction. We must be smart enough to apply reason, logic and common sense to our elections, or our progeny will curse us for the legacy we left them.
A wise man once said, “Of all our human resources the most precious is the desire to improve.” While it is always important to take note of what has been accomplished, let us focus instead on what remains to be done. This I believe should be our challenge for the new millennium. There is little doubt that without a new direction our island is heading for turbulent times.
The time for major intervention is now. We need to pursue and secure autonomy for our islands if our way of life and traditions are to continue. This will require considerable effort on our part. The only thing that comes without effort is old age. Most of our sister Caribbean islands have practiced autonomy for generations and have been successful. Why not us? In order for us to succeed, we must first believe that we can. To continue on our current course will produce chaos and total destruction of our way of life.
Our current leadership is basically clueless when it comes to creativity and problem solving. We desperately need fresh new leadership with courage and innovative ideas for moving us forward. I am convinced that in many instances, intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents as well. Therefore, the intensity of your desire governs the power with which the force is directed. Autonomy should be our goal. Autonomy is within our reach and we should go for it with every ounce of energy that we have. We must be reminded that this one step of “choosing a goal and sticking to it” changes everything. [/private]