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We Need to Find a Way Forward

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I ENDED MY column last week with a quotation from the Anglican Bishop of the West Indies whom I referred to as the late Drexel Gomes. I am happy to report that Bishop Gomes is very much alive, and I want to thank Dean Smith for bringing this to my attention.

Having not provided the context in which those remarks were made I must add that the point he was trying to make was that prayers alone could not be a solution. In the same way, while I have constantly made reference to the possible role of the Christian Council in our present societal quagmire, I am not suggesting that they have the solution, but all hands are needed on deck, even if only to be part of a ‘community’ dialogue.

Let me also state that the Christian Council is made up largely of what used to be considered ‘established religions’ but that other Christian denominations have an equally important right to be at that table. In fact , all ‘parties’, individuals and organisations that are concerned about the state of our country and the direction in which it is heading are being called upon to act.

The caption of my article, “This has got to be the worst of times”, was referring not only to apparent efforts to stifle widespread protests, but to the general state of our society; economy, sense of hopelessness, deepening divisions, the large number of homicides, and a multiplicity of other things. As we confront multiple issues and concerns it must be discouraging that the country appears to be more divided than ever. We speak at cross purposes and many of us take positions based solely on political preferences.

One of my concerns over the past weeks has been the spike in Covid cases among our neighbours, particularly St.Lucia and Grenada. How should you act when your neighbour’s house is on fire, is the question! As I write, today September 15, St. Lucia has 2, 382 active cases and Grenada 2,061.

On September 7 we had 65 active cases and only 4 new cases. Yesterday we had 38 new cases and 221 active cases. On September 11, we actually had 41 new cases. Our spike has started, and action is needed. With expected flights from Canada and England, over the next month or two it can get even worse. Our vaccination number is now about 32, 126 still low even when compared to our immediate neighbours who also have relatively low numbers. Trinidad and Tobago which had been hard hit now has 3, 769 active cases but, happily, a vaccinated population (including first and second doses) of 997, 515. I have no information about the reaction to our recent vaccination drives, especially involving the Sputnik and Pfizer vaccines, since there were those who said they were awaiting those vaccines. In any event we need to get back to the drawing board with this since mandating vaccinations seems to be turning off more people than bringing them on board. We will not get those who for whatever reason are fundamental anti-vaxxers, but there is still hope with others who I believe could be convinced with the right approach and information.

While the focus from the establishment level has been getting more people vaccinated, enough attention has not been paid to persons not wearing masks or not wearing them correctly. It appears that the matter of social distancing has not been given the kind of attention it deserves. Too many persons are still congregating in large numbers, as if social distancing is a non- issue.

There is little hope once we remain divided that we can tackle the many problems confronting us. It would have been good if we were in a position to commemorate our 42nd anniversary of Independence with a sense of hope, purpose, and optimism. Could we at least use the occasion to do some reflection on the road we have been travelling! Could we cut across party lines and have a serious conversation?

● Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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