Over the past month, I have made it my business to get more informed about the happenings in our Federation by tuning in to the ideas being discussed on the air ways, internet and byways of our land, and what is becoming evidently clear is that “spinning” is the order of the day, or should I now say, the year. Even one of our best calypsonians has made it the theme of his social commentary entitled “Spinner’s Wicket.” Although I have accepted that spin is part of the political culture in this day and age, I feel it has reached a level of intensity that has the potential to dismantle the soul and spirit of our Nation. This realization, that spin is not as benign as I once thought it was, was brought forcefully home to me in an email I received from a colleague in response to some comments I made on spin on the SKNList yesterday. He wrote:
“The discourse below puts very mildly the problem we face as a nation. It is that we are bombarded by spin and misinformation almost akin to North Korea. Somebody has to stop first. We were recently subjected to news that St.Kitts has the third highest GDP per capita in the region. If that is acceptable then so is the comparable per capita murder rate or the tax rate comparison that you circulated.
Why are we limiting ourselves to comparisons with other Caribbean countries. If we want to compare with St.Lucia then we should also compare with Singapore which is the same size as St.Lucia but a trillion times wealthier because of their model which is educate your people, create a business friendly environment, strong rule of law, zero corruption and meritocracy. What is our model? Spin and handouts.”
So what is spin?
According to Wikipedia, spin is defined as follows:
“In public relations, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, “spin” often implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics.
Politicians are often accused by their opponents of claiming to be honest and seek the truth while using spin tactics to manipulate public opinion. Because of the frequent association between spin and press conferences (especially government press conferences), the room in which these take place is sometimes described as a spin room. A group of people who develop spin may be referred to as “spin doctors” who engage in “spin doctoring” for the person or group that hired them.”
When it comes to spin, “What to believe or not to believe, that is the question?” This is a question I have to admit has no answer, and here is the reason why I have come to this depressing conclusion. I consider myself an above average and well read and informed individual, and I made it my business to analyse the data presented on both sides of the political platform, to as they say, differentiate the “mauby from the froth” so that I can derive “more light than heat” from the issues. Unfortunately, I have to say after listening to both sides, and admittedly, more so from the incumbents than the opposition, I am left frothing from the mouth and overheated!! So now imagine, if that is me, what do you think is going through the minds of the majority who are less than above average? How do you even begin to help them differentiate the signals from the noise in the political rhetoric?
Do we have any non-partisan non-governmental organisation that can help us in this regard to do fact checks that is not only critical of the incumbents but also of the opposition when they both try to “dazzle us with glitter and bamboozle us with half-truths?” How are we, the electorate, when the occasion arises, to rise to the occasion to make our vote count in the best interest of the country, when the information that guides us is at best distorted and at worse not even available? How can we tell that we are dealing with fact or fiction? To tell you the honest truth, I do not know.
So what do we do in the mean time when everything that comes from the political platform has to be questioned if we cannot trust the information that comes from the authorities? Who is out there to guide us? How do we proceed? As is always the case for me, whenever I start to meditate on these deep questions, the answers present themselves to me via quotes, which I have now added to my email signatures to constantly remind me of what is true and authentic and what is not, and I would like to now share them with you. I do hope that many of you would be as enlightened as I was and still am, as these quotes have provided me with some tools to help navigate onward. So here goes:
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” – Andre Lorde
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
The more and more I meditate on these quotes, the more and more I realize that I have been asking myself the wrong question. It should no longer be, “What to believe?” but now “How to believe?” How do we undo the spin? How do we even begin to untangle the webs of deception that have been weaved so far? And then it hit me like a bombshell!! The answer is MINDFULNESS. I have been meditating over the past 2 years and this therapeutic technique has resulted in my seeing clearly the way forward in all of the endeavours of my life, be it healthwise, personal, professional and most important of all spiritual.
Here are two definitions of mindfulness:
From the Oxford English dictionary, “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
From Practicing Mindfulness, “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”
As a therapeutic technique, this can also help us chart our way forward to shared progress and prosperity on many levels, be it individual, family, society and even the political establishments. If we look at the individual level, many of the crimes in our society are perpetuated by our youth who are not mindful of their strengths and weakness, and as a result many of them mindlessly harm themselves and others for not recognizing their weaknesses, and are not able to capitalize on their talents and gifts to actualize their true potential.
At the family level, many families do not appreciate the deficiencies that exist, and the capacity that exist within them to help provide a nurturing environment for their kids, without the temptations and distraction of our consumerism societies.
At the community levels, we would all be better off if we are mindful of the resilience and fortitude of the women in our communities, who serve as the bedrock of our societies, who were able to get us this far during the hardest of times, even though we mindlessly follow male chauvinistic superiority ideologies. (There are many more examples you can discover if you sit down and meditate on what we have been doing inefficiently, and try to find solutions if we truly want to change for the better.)
And finally to the crux of the thesis of this article, we need, as politicians and the electorate alike, to be more mindful of our thoughts, words, actions and deeds, and also what we have already done and what we have failed to do. Mindful efforts have to be made by one and all to address the common threats and challenges of the present moment as we focus in creating a great nation based on the common purpose of shared progress and prosperity. Living in the past and using the fumbles of those who have gone before us as standards to emulate, or living for the future by speculating our patrimonies away just to stay in power, is downright maladaptive, regressive and outright irresponsible. Making unsubstantiated interpretations and conclusions without due process should cease to be part of the fabric of our body politic.
If our body politic are unwilling or unable to be this change that our country right now desperately needs and deserves, then this speaks volumes for those who lead us. We the electorate should now say enough is enough!! We should start now looking within, to see what gives us joy and pain, and do the best we can to maximize true authentic joy and to alleviate true authentic pain in our lives. We can best do this, given all the spin that is around us, by tuning away from mindless allegiance to authority with all of its machinations, and tuning in to mindful devotion to authenticity in our lives, where we bring into sharp focus what really matters, what really counts, and what is worth striving for. We will discover over and over again that we are already blessed and live in abundance and our lives will begin to overflow with the gifts of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
What I have discovered is that by tuning into this fundamental vibrational frequency of the universe, all the static noise dissolve and we hear ever so much clearly, the messages we are supposed to hear, as we chart our way forward, as we begin to “unspin” the spin, as we begin to untangle the webs of deception we have weaved so far, for the betterment of one and all for once and for all in our beloved Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”