It all started last week, when I had another flare of my recurrent joint problems, which are usually triggered from stress at the workplace that appears to be going from bad to worse. I have been trying to wean myself off steroids for the inflammation in my joints over the year, but each time I am ready to come off, the knees would flare up again. But this should not have been surprising, as nothing significant has changed in the work environment. As a result I have been putting on weight, which is a major side effect of steroids, and my health was suffering again. Even my patients have begun to notice that I was obese, and it appeared that I was not practicing what I preached. In effect, I was “CLOSE TO HOSPITAL, BUT FAR FROM HEALTH.”
So I had increased the dose of my steroids, went in the mornings to do the Ward rounds at the hospital, and rescheduled my private office patients for the past two weeks, to go home and rest and stay off my feet.
And then someone sent me this post three days ago by a political hitman on Facebook by the pseudo-name of “Andre Liburd”, who has been constantly attacking critics of the government in power, and now I was clearly in their cross hairs. It is alleged that the person who was behind these bullying tactics is either a Minister of Government or one of his/her functionaries.
And this was what was posted:
Although no name was called, this was actually referring to me. First of all, I do not know of any other doctor who engages in blogging on political issues in the Federation. Secondly, given my frustration with the pace of improvement of the working standards and the resources needed to give the patients the care they deserve, I have been venting my frustration privately and publicly, as the formal channels of communication appeared to be closed, not sure if by accident or by design.
Lately, I have been on Dwyer Astaphan’s Operation Rescue talkshow and have been disseminating Charles Wilkin’s QC commentaries dealing with good governance issues, hence the reason for the tagline #Dwyer&CharlesPuppet.
And yes, there is one Minister of Government I have been most critical of in private as I have come to recognize that the reason we are now in this state of affairs may be due to the fact that a private business approach is being used to manage a public institution. I suspect by taking this approach, in the vain attempt to contain costs, despite claims of budget surpluses in the face of unmet health resource needs, the Ministry is doing more harm in the long run than they care to or can see. I now appreciate that this is no fault of the Ministry but of our capitalist system, where labour is seen as a cost/liability to be minimized when viewed from a private sector lens, and as an asset/investment to be optimized from a public sector lens, as explained here: A Manifesto.
To make things worse, in trying to hide the conflicts and contradictions in our capitalist system, and thus mask the insecurities that are generated, many management pathologies arise. First, trying to micromanage the public sector from a strategic private business sense with little and no input from the technocrats who are in the trenches only widens the divide between those separated with the power and the responsibilities for taking care of our patients. Secondly, when an opportunity for a better understanding of the situation arises, and one learns of the mountains and mountains of challenges faced with little or no tangible solutions in sight, one will begin to empathize with our policymakers. So although my frustration was being projected at the Ministers responsible, it was the corrupt system at fault, that have created the many insecurities, communication and implementation disorders along the way, and was the source of the frustration at the deepest level of understanding.
And what about the Bipolar Doctor? Well, it was actually suggested by one of the Government Ministers in a meeting that I may have a bipolar disorder given the impulsivities of the venting of my frustrations when I am on the high dose of steroids during one of my flare episodes. I then challenged the Minister to provide evidence in which any of the management of my patients was compromised, and if I do in fact have a medical disorder or disease. As a matter of fact, as revealed here: “Be Still, and Know…” – From Breakdown TO Breakthrough, the steroids only expands the depth and reaches of your mind, and helped me to see the entire range of human possibilities, from the better angels to the worse demons of ourselves. In this light, what was construed as a mental liability or dis-ease, has now become a mental asset of ease, although the physical long term side effects will come to the fore sooner or later, as was happening now. Hence the reason I was labelled as a bipolar doctor for those who were curious and wanted to know.
So this is what I do when negativities come my way: I use these negativities as blessings to be capitalized on or lessons to be learnt from. I then set about disseminating the post to my colleagues and several Ministers of the Team Unity (TU) Government with these comments:
And lo and behold, texts of solidarity and phone-calls started to fly. I was given the blessing of learning more of the challenges of government and governance, and I became more and more convinced the more I learned that we do in fact have a chronic insecurity complex, fostered by warring divisive tribalism in every institution of our Federation, from Government to Civil Service, to Civil Society, down to our Communities and Families. It was this chronic insecurity complex that was at the root of our chronic communication and implementation disorders, and if this was not recognized and up-rooted fast, things would only evolve from bad to worse.
During one of the conversations, I was accused of being biased in my criticisms (which on reflection was true) and that I should have been more balanced in highlighting the positive gains of government. If you are a regular reader of my blog articles, especially before the last elections, you would have already known that I am not impressed with economic or financial developments which are always prone to creative accounting gimmicks and tricks, especially when our mental, social and spiritual capital becomes undermined in the process, as explained here: Father, Forgive Us; For We Know Not What We Do. and Arise St. Kitts and Nevis! It’s Time!! We are Better Together in UNITY!!!. What was revealing was the the same concerns I had back then with the previous administration in terms of good governance issues are more relevant now than ever before, given what was fought for back then.
But there was one positive development I found happening in the communities that was a source of encouragement for me that had the potential to improve on the mental, social and spiritual trajectory of the country, in ways never before had been imagined. And that was the Peace Initiative initiated by the gangs themselves to come forward and be at peace with one another and their communities, as the spate of mass killings early in the year had never reached that intensity before. This reminds me of drug addicts, who refuse interventions, until they realize they have hit rock bottom and they have nothing to gain and all to lose in persisting in their life-denying behaviour.
Interestingly, with warring parties, be they subnational, national or supranational, what feeds the constant tribalism and warring and divisiveness is the addiction to glory and to trauma, by the winning and losing sides, respectively. (In other words, addiction to power is already easy to understand; but addiction to the fruits of playing the perpetual victim in a country of structural dependencies can bring favours without effort and thus rewarding too).
So basically, this was our youth’s call for help, or Road to Damascus experience, and I am happy that the Government is working as a partner and as a facilitator and an enabler of this most rare opportunity to help create meaningful relationships, meaningful work and hope for the future in these youths. They have been victimized in more ways than we can imagine, by the system of all our warring divisive tribalistic institutions that had isolated them and nudged them into a life of criminality. Please remember that no one is born a criminal. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to spoil a child too.
I see criminal activity as being fostered and maintained, and not alleviated, by our punitive social policies. We are doing more harm than good to our vulnerable and impressionable youths and our societies by socially isolating them in jails after all the institutions of society had dropped the ball by socially isolating them in the first place. We were basically victimizing the victims in our misguided beliefs of being tough on crime; hence the escalating criminal activities we saw bubbling up over the years. So in order to make progress, we need to put aside our childish punitive social policies and transform them into mature restorative and rehabilitative ones. Criminality should be seen as a disease and as as a public health and social injustice issue, and not as a legal justice one. (Please see these articles that reveal the root causes through the public health and social injustice lenses, and how this criminality is not home-grown but engineered from without by the misguided foreign policies of deep state actors: The socioeconomic and geopolitical determinants of crime in the Federation of St Kitts-Nevis and When We are Enslaved to Big Lies, the Truth will Hurt, but Only the Truth can Set Us Free!)
And the ultimate straw that broke my back to even consider penning this article was an incident that happened at the hospital in which one of my colleagues was
physically verbally assaulted by a family member of a patient who had recently died. Interestingly, another of my colleagues was also physically assaulted by another family member a week ago before she died, with the threat that he would begin shooting us if she eventually demised. Verbal abuse of doctors “killing off the patients” are not that uncommon and are understandable in times of grieving, and I respect that, but I have never experienced a case escalating to that of threats of killing health care workers who are always trying to do their best for their patients, given the limitations of resources we are afforded. I have had interacted with the family and they have gone through so much suffering in terms of a spate of medical illnesses and hardships, and I can understand what they are going through and am willing to forgive them. But what devastated me yesterday was when I discovered that in the initial management of the case, when I was off-island on emergency leave, there may have been political interference in facilitating transfer, of misinformation being shared in getting the patient overseas care when it may not have been indicated, and possible misinformation now being vented that very expensive medical costs for overseas care still not paid are now creating more hardships for the family via threats of lawsuits.
If politicians prey on the patients and families at their most vulnerable to score political points, this is very unbecoming of us as a nation of potential caring, sharing and loving representatives of the people. As a matter of fact, this is gangsterism at the highest level of the land that needs to be seen and addressed and eradicated in quick time. If our most disenfranchised and marginalized people become pawns in their political schemes of scoring political points, and they put their community in harm’s way, then that tells me that that we have a major problem in our land.
The simple fact is that our youth gangster culture is a true reflection of our political gangster culture and this has pervaded and corrupted every institution of society from the civil service down to our communities and families. This form of warring and divisiveness only breeds insecurity and prevents us all from getting along. We need less and less of an adversarial approach to the competition of policies and ideas and more and more of a parternship approach to the collaboration and sharing of ideas, skills and resources for the betterment of our youth and the country.
We are in the process of trying to revive again the SKNMDA and I am encouraging all civil society to do the same. What we need now are peace initiatives at every level of society and within each institution to make sure that we can rally around these youth and give them a second chance, mentor them, and give them what they need, and help put them back on track so that they can live their lives with dignity and honour and respect. Yes, there would still be much hurting by the victims of violent crime, but we as a community of communities must be united in helping the truth come out and assist in the grieving process as we reconcile our differences. From my vantage point, we cannot bring back our loved ones, but we can ensure that they did not die in vain. If there are lessons to be learnt that would prevent the next unsuspecting victim of crime (be it violent or not), and we can use our losses to gain in our communities transformations for their family and children, then that person’s untimely death would now be seen in the most redemptive timely saving of lives. And this is the most positive light one can bring to the spate of killings of gangsterism that have plagued us over the decades past, as we have all been complicit, by what we have done and what we have failed to do.
This morning’s Gospel reading in Church and the Sermon by Fr. Lawrence eventually gave me the courage to write this article as it addressed every aspect of what was discussed above. This is most revealing as its timing (one can say God sent) suggests to me that THE prime mover of other peace initiatives should be the church as they are anchored in each community, have traction as they are already established, and are very well networked to be the source of spiritual healing. It is by healing the primal wounds of the social isolation of our youth, which IS “our original sin” and by reconnecting them back with community with a sense of meaning, purpose and belonging, we will help them to understand that the quality of life-enabling relationships do matter, with themselves, each other, the planet and with their Creator. By enabling more life and more livelihoods rather than disabling them, and helping install the values that enable more life than disable them, the community of churches in UNITY can catalyze the transformation that is so much needed in this blessed Federation of ours. The mantra for our churches should no longer be, “CLOSE TO CHURCH, BUT FAR FROM GOD.”
If this can be a true united effort, where the youth take ownership of their life transformation, with NO political interference to undermine or take credit where none is due, then this can catalyze a new re-birth and new political dispensation, that helps heal our chronic insecurities, communication and implementation disorders that have bedevilled our politicians for so long. Sometimes I wonder if the mantra for our politicians should be, “CLOSE TO PARLIAMENT, BUT FAR FROM NATION BUILDING.” I am convinced as the saying goes, a child shall lead us, and in this case our peace-making youths will help lead our politicians out of the morass of their making.
There is a lot to take in and think about. There is more I can say, but I would leave it here for now, and depending what transpires from here on, if and when the Spirit moves me to write, I will be back to blogging my thoughts, as a medical doctor from a public health and social justice perspective, as I have been doing in times past.
I will leave you now with some more food for thought:
The first is a meme that dramatically reflects the many permutations and combinations of what our problems and solutions are. We should be at level 4 now trying to find solutions. The two donkeys could represent the warring insecure political parties or the divisive tribalistic institutions or our two islands. Our born-again youth are now at level 5. By working together we can discover what is holding us back and to help create sustainable and regenerative processes that ensures that all of us get a fair share of our ideas being expressed and our resources and opportunities being co-created and shared so that no one, not even the politicians, are left behind.
The second is the Gospel reading for today. Sometimes we have to take stands against the leadership and comrades of our institutions when they do not see the light and they become stumbling blocks to life-progress instead of stepping stones. The foundation for any viable society are the good governance rules that must be implemented; otherwise talk of nation building will only be laden with crises and more crises and for every step forward we take, we will make two steps backwards. So we must give up our political tribalism and become true disciples of peace, love, unity, integrity and harmony, at whatever financial cost, and in this light we would have taken the higher path of spiritual enlightenment, based on the “irresistible power of unarmed truth” and the redeeming grace of restorative and reconciliatory justice.
Luke 14:25-33 New International Version (NIV)
The Cost of Being a Disciple
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
And finally, please use this opportunity to get informed so that we can catalyze in ourselves and in our body politics and economics an understanding of what has been achieved so far and how we can in our own spheres of concern and influence, help assist in this truly united community building effort. As always, I am convinced that ‘Community’ (Latin ‘com’ = ‘together’ + ‘munus’ = ‘gift or service’) IS THE CURE for all of our ills.