THE EDITOR: Too often, well-meaning regular citizens are castigated, stigmatized for simply engaging their communities in matters of interest and national concerns. In many instances, those citizens have knowledge, skills and expertise St. Lucia needs, and that they are willing to share with their country men and women to make a difference.
Strangely, these well-meaning gestures are seldom well-received. They, for whatever reasons, are not considered to be worthy of serious consideration. Rather, they are simply dismissed as “It’s Politics!”
“It’s Politics” is a cop-out, distractors commonly use to avoid meaningful engagement. They use it as a weapon against those whose world-views don’t necessarily fit theirs. Distractors use the phrase when they feel threatened.
Moreover, they use it to: disarm the masses to weaken their capacity to mobilize; destroy their resistance to defend their rights; deflect from issues that need to be challenge; avoid taking part in matters of public good; defend the indefensible; intimidate, threaten perceived enemies; victimize those who will not regurgitate the scrips; demoralize those daring enough to have some integrity; protect personal interests over everything else; justify hurtful policy-decisions and pursue blind loyalties; and undermine any initiative from which they can’t first see self-gains.
In short, “It’s Politics” is used to imply citizens are out-of-place to question, promote ideas, share experiences, initiate engagements and express opinions without the explicit approval of political overlords.
To give clarity, balance and focus to the discussion, let’s define the word, “politics.” According to Wikipedia politics “is a process of making decisions that apply to members of a group.” Meaning in politics, differences of opinion, debates, dialogue, conflicts are inevitable.
Thomas Hobbes, the English political philosopher founder of the Social Contract Theory, did not mean consent to be at the expense of the right to question. He contended that “humans by nature are equal in faculties of body and mind.” he argued further that humans came out of the state of nature into political society and government, by “mutual contracts.”
Hobbes acknowledged human capacity to make decisions, take action – “equal in body and Mind”, decisions to engage in voluntary binding agreements, to compromise, to have differences of opinions. In getting into mutual agreements, we negotiate, challenge, exchange opinions, share ideas, debate and even incite conflicts.
Coming into political society, members of the group expect protections of their rights and entitled to the benefits of the Social Contract. Exercising those rights are not to be dismissed as playing politics.
Take the following examples: Philip J. Pierre’s motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister; Kenny Anthony’s claim in the High Court against Government agreements with Desert Star Holdings Ltd (DSH); St. Lucia Medical and Dental Association advocacy on the handling of the Nation’s health; St. Lucia Nurses Association in its struggles on job security for its members and the delivery healthcare to patients; St. Lucia teachers Union on the question of credentials and their role in in education and economic development; Civil Service Association (CSA) on public service reforms; and a host of issues affecting the relationships between the state and the ordinary citizens such as: gentrification, privatization, State of healthcare St. Jude, OKEU, Victoria Hospital, crime rate and violence, abuse and corruption in high places, general social decay
Are these members exercising their rights to their claims in the Social Contract, or, “It’s Politics?”
“It’s politics” has no basis for rational conversations, it is not a framework for serious political discourse. “It’s politics” is a cliché, a poor strategy used against claiming their rights to the Social Contract.
The late Brother George Odlum left us a template through which to frame the political discourse, use it! He articulates it brilliantly in his many editorial master pieces: Truth the Fire Center,” Compton Needs a Senate St. Lucia Noes Not,” “The Noose of Rising Expectations,” “How Manley Stump Compton,” “Were you There.”
For our time, I think, it is appropriate to ask, Are you there? (Richard Edwin)