Many have welcomed the arrival of 2018 with prayers, hymn singing and the ringing of bells. For others, it was either staying home,drinking or shaking a leg on the dance floor or witnessing the many colorful firework displays. The New Year symbolically represents the close of one chapter of life and the beginning of another. It always brings hope of improvement in one’s life. This hope is reflected in our tradition of making resolutions where we would like to see improvement in our lives.
However, many resolutions have not been fulfilled because change does not happen through merely wishing, but by making a determined effort. For many, this is a major challenge, especially when it comes to doing away with habits that have become engrained.
In 2017, we have had some setbacks in the economy, in lower sugar and bauxite production, decline in foreign reserves, and an increased import bill. We also had to grapple with worrying gun-related violence and killings in 2017, though it was not as bad as in previous years; thanks to strong police intervention. Given the seriousness of the challenges facing the nation, it is time for serious reflection by everyone, but more so by those in authority who tend to delude themselves and somehow develop presumptions about their own invincibility.
After 51 years of Independence, there are still many unanswered questions and much work to be done. It is an indisputable fact that significant social, political and economic strides have been made since May 26, 1966. But could we have done better? Does our status as a country correlate to an ideal of nationhood?
Education, especially free tertiary schooling under the late Forbes Burnham government, has been one of our greatest achievements. That academic and technical thrust has sprung advancement and improvement in the lives of people across the country.
But to some extent, we have failed in agriculture. We have been constantly told that our food import bill is astronomically high, yet our indulgence in foreign taste continues. We were also told that our land is our best economic asset, but many, mostly youths have abandoned it for city life. Sugar is no longer king. It has unfortunately become a footnote in the country as governments have failed to diversify the economy and to make agriculture a prominent fixture in the psyche of youths.
On the brighter side of things, significant attention is being placed on alternative sources of energy. This is a subject that has been discussed for decades. Our dependence on fossil fuel energy has placed a financial burden on the country.
But the focus being placed on wind and solar energy can actually make us energy efficient, end the financial strain and actively contribute to the reduction of dangerous environmental emissions. Of course, it is a highly expensive undertaking, but the long-term benefits will outweigh the costs. However, we need the political will to achieve such important initiatives.It could make 2018 quite an eventful year.
As a small country, our independence is conditioned by what occurs in other countries. For years, we have continuously paid attention to what happens in the United States, Britain, Canada, and our Caribbean neighbors. In 2018, all, including the government should commit to do all that we can to strengthen our independence and concomitantly reduce our dependency overseas.
Our politicians have nurtured this dependence. In 2018 we must hold them accountable. But due to racial voting, we have meander between two political parties and are reluctant to cast them aside if they fail our expectations. After 50 years of independence, we remain politically immature.
The country has done much for us in the past five decades, but in 2018, we must reflect how much we have taken and how much we have given. Part of Confucius teaching is that one should subject one’s own desires to the good of family, community and country and the benefits will redound to self. Meaningful commitment to the country can be built on such selfless pillars in 2018.
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