A TALE OF TWO SHOE SALESMEN
There is a tale about these two shoe salesmen who travel to a third world country in search of new business opportunities.
One man calls his wife the moment he lands, telling her, “Honey, I’m coming back home. There’s no hope here. Nobody here is wearing shoes, so there’s no one to sell to.” He boards the next flight home.
The second man calls his wife and says, “Honey, you wouldn’t believe what I found here. There is so much opportunity. No one here is wearing shoes. I can sell to the whole country!”
Many social battles have been waged in our beloved country for centuries, first between the Caribs and Arawaks, then the British and French, then the colonial masters and their slaves, and until quite recently, between the working and the plantation classes. Right now the engagements are between the people in power and a “disempowered” people, as confirmed just recently by Sir Probyn Innis in a recent interview on one of our local radio stations.
As I have tried to convey in my previous blog articles, what is happening should not be of any surprise to us, as the architects of our modern economy pay homage to the high priests of the Kingdom of Mammon, where our people and our lands are being commoditized in the form of derivatives under the guise of citizenship by investment schemes, land for debt swaps, and now prostitution rings in our historic Independence Square. Moreover, what makes me very much concerned are “real and present dangers” of clandestine attempts to break the morale of the people and create divisions in our society, as evidenced by the castigating utterances by a minister of government towards the business community here, and the demoralizing pronouncements to the security forces across the waters. There is also evidence of community festivals being cancelled, purportedly for security reasons, and online newsgroups engaging in vitriotic attacks and character assassinations to no end. Many at home and many more overseas are left stunned asking how we, as a people, could have allowed us to get to this stage, and even more, how the majority of us are silent and are going about our businesses, even enduring these hardships, as if nothing untoward is in our midst.
Some say we are in denial and others think we are delusional. I beg to differ, and I hope to show, that contrary to what many people may think, this is a testament to the resilience of our people to look out for each other in the hard times, especially when it appears that everything that can go wrong is actually going wrong. What we are seeing now is the networking of kindred spirits who have been nurtured and inculterated by leaders of the past in our families and communities, be they parents, priests, teachers, mentors, and political leaders, who saw themselves as stewards and promoted the principles of love for family, for community and for country, not only in their generation but also for those to come. In other words, their lives were guided, not by the word of Mammon, but the Word of GOD. If it were not for the investments our past leaders made in us, I am sure, we would have been worse off today, and the fact that we have not given into violent protest, is a testament to the latent potential and power of our people to maintain such steadfastness under such duress.
This insight hit me this Sunday in church when I realized that we have a fellowship of men and women from all types of political persuasions, all ages, from rich to poor, coming together to share and celebrate the word of God. Also many individuals in society who you would swear are bitter political enemies do partake in the services together. My first thought was, “What hypocrisy!!” Why is it that we leave the principles we espouse in church, and don’t take them with us when we go back home to our family, to our work and our community? We hear, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” but then we turn around and say and do the complete opposite. Am I missing something? And then it dawned on me, maybe, instead of assuming the worst of others, maybe I need to assume the best in them, and maybe, what I was witnessing before my eyes was a yearning, a spiritual yearning of sorts by them, to reclaim the essence of the Kingdom of God, not only in their personal lives, but also in their political lives. We all feel something on Sunday, but become torn when we find that our practices before and after church do not harmonize with the principles that we claim we pay homage to when we do go to church.
Slowly but surely I am beginning to realize that a lot of what I was hearing and seeing on the political platforms, the radio stations and on the internet, were the machinations of sincerely misguided people, who for more that 6 days of the week think, feel and act according to the word of Mammon, and who for that one or two hours in church become uplifted by the vision of a better way of life, where we celebrate our unity and commonality in words, song and prayer. And moreover via open communion we share a Holy Meal, which truth be told is an outward expression of an inward desire to create the Kingdom of God in our midst. And I am beginning to ask myself, why can’t we take the principles which have been stored in the silos of our churches, and fashion these same principles to govern the functioning of our families, our communities and our government. This will help to effect the change we want to see in our nation: the creation of a fellowship of men and women who celebrate in words, song and prayer, provide for our basic needs like food, water, shelter, education and health, look out for the young, sick, and aged among us, and finally invest in the fertile lands, hearts and minds, not just for one or two hours of the week, but for every minute, of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year!!
In my practice and from my interactions with other members of my community, I can verify that we have many resourceful persons who care, who have a wealth of experience to share, who are committed to serving their families and communities, but who are demotivated from sharing this knowledge for political reasons. I have met many youth who likewise have great visions and talents, and who have the zeal sucked out of them because if they are allowed to shine, they would highlight the deficiencies in the establishment they are desirous of uplifting. We have been consistently lowering our standards and debasing ourselves, and we tell ourselves we are progressing when we compare ourselves to the lowest common denominator of the collective, be it locally, regionally or internationally. We should instead be raising our standards and aspiring to achieve the highest common multiplier of love of oneself, family, community and nation, to satisfy the basic needs of food, shelter, education and health, so we all can help the other actualize our God-given potentials to the best of our individual and collective abilities.
From the outset, I will be the first to claim I have NO CONFIDENCE whatsoever in any system of governance where the people in power ascribes to the tenets and principles of the Kingdom of Mammon, where the modus operandi is divide, dominate, debase, demoralize and dispossess, not only of our lands, but of our bodies, minds, hearts and spirit. But in the same breath, I would be the first to claim, given my genuine interactions with friends, family and patients, that I have FULL CONFIDENCE in our people, if given a chance, to interact and share ideas without fear or intimidation.
We are told and I do believe that we are ASSET RICH. Our lands, our hearts and our minds, are fertile grounds waiting to be nurtured and cultivated to reap untold benefits for our families, communities and our nation. We are a sleeping giant waiting to be awakened, thanks to the hard work of our forefathers who toiled and shed tears, sweat and blood, so that their family and their communities would inherit a better place than what they themselves inherited. I am convinced that what we are seeing in our beloved land on the political platform are damaged souls in search of healing, in perpetual torment, as a result of what I would like to call “vitamins L1, L2 and L3 deficiencies (storge, philia and agape)”, compounded by “vitamin L4 (eros) toxicity”.
If Dr. Martin Lurther King Jr was here today, he would help us reframe how the OTHER is perceived, and would say:
“Those who are sewing seeds of divisiveness are damaged human beings. We have the power to liberate them from their damaged souls and by following the path of love, we give them the opportunity to become fully human.” – adapted from the movie, I AM, by Tony Shadyac
So it is not Christ-like for us to add insult to injury, and we all must acknowledge our collective responsibility, as we unknowingly, have allowed the present leadership to “flourish” at our individual and collective expense. But now we know better, and we have been given glimpses of life’s true operating manual that would allow fertile lands, hearts and minds in the spirit of Liamigua, (the Carib name for St. Kitts,) to come together, and for us to collaborate with a renewed sense of urgency, as we try to right the wrongs of the past, once and for all, as we enoble the political establishment. We need to build trust in our societies via the sacred tenets of accountability, transparency and equity, underguirded by rules of law adhered to by honourable and enlightened men or women who lead by example with integrity in their public and in their private lives. These men and women would be selected by a fair electoral system, and would be able to inspire us to mature and develop our mental capital and wellbeing, and help rebuild our nation, so that our children and grandchildren can look back and be proud of us. We need to create an environment in which we have the cream of the crop in our communities leading us rather than the top of the garbage heap.
We should not kid ourselves and think that the road ahead would be easy. There is still so much work to be done. We need to address the issues, in a realistic and practical way, of how we can best reduce our debt, the unemployment rates, and the cost of living in our communities. We need to determine how we can connect the best lands with the best hearts and minds in the Federation and in the diaspora, to discuss these issues, because now more than ever, we need all hands on deck. Gone should be those days when our disingenuous leaders and their cronies ask us to provide alternatives, when they know fully well we are not privy to the data that they have to make informed analyses to provide credible solutions. Gone should be those days, when we accept the analogy of a leaking roof with gold under the bed, without asking why we were not investing the gold in the first place so as to have preventative-maintenance work instituted to prevent the leak. We have very smart economists locally and in the diaspora who can assist in this endeavour, and come up with true home-grown solutions. It would require all of us to make sacrifices, accept our true collective responsibilities of enlightened leaders and well-informed electorates, and share the burdens so that for one and all, this endeavour would undoubtedly become a “labour of love” (pardon the pun).
I have to smile, as when I leave my office every day, I see the signs painted in red saying FULL CONFIDENCE nailed to both sides of our lampposts, with no room to spare for the opposition to put theirs. Would it not be ironic if the opposition used the same slogan, but this time, the FULL CONFIDENCE referring to a wholesome, united and empowered people? Maybe this is a sign from GOD, being beemed to us under the lights, that reflects the FULL CONFIDENCE HE has in us, the red symbolizing the fire that will soon be burning inside of each of us without consuming us, as we transform our nation from one governed by leaders who rule and divide, to one that is governed by leaders who are now stewards of our fertile resources of lands, hearts and minds, and who are able now to unite us and truly lead us with FULL CONFIDENCE.
God truly works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform!!
THE AMERICAN BUSINESSSMAN AND THE MEXICAN FISHERMAN
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”