By Vinny Newton
The cries of disbelief, disgust, annoyance and anger belong to those Vincentians who are aware of the implications of the improper disposal of waste, garbage, refuse. These feelings they experience on seeing how many of our fellow citizens, normally live in these lands.
Listen, you will hear of a Pole Yard dweller regularly dumping her household waste into the river nearby or the pigpen dumping all their remnants in the same. There is the cart man in Kingstown leaving daily all his coconut shells in the gutter. There is the regular vendor near the school where all the popsicle plastic and chicken bones go over the walled fence. There are the local rum shops with back walls on which urine is deposited, daily. There are the KFC boxes and cups thrown mindlessly out of vehicles. The chicken farmer, who is absolutely insensitive to the residential area where he operates and does not care to learn proper methods of treating his waste. There are people who dump their old appliances and vehicles, on the sides of the roads, where they remain for decades. Some burn plastic and tires and even do so in residential areas. The stories go on, and on, and on. This country is becoming alarmingly polluted with not just noise and smoke, but also with garbage, litter and refuse.
Is this the beautiful St. Vincent and the Grenadines we are so proud of and want to remain feeling this way about, for generations to come? Are some of our heads in the sand? I do not believe many are desensitised to this ill in our society but rather many are at a loss as to what can be possibly done about it. Like so many other frustrating things faced up and about in SVG by many, we seem to have entered an era where hopelessness, mind fog and immobilisation has set in by the seeming impossibility of it all.
What do responsible citizens have that polluting ones don’t? This is a question that our government is obviously yet to take a serious look at. Are they also feeling hopeless, mind fogged and immobilised? No, not at all, as they definitely have excelled at some things. There is definitely some intelligence in their chosen equations. However that power is being successfully used elsewhere, we are still suffering from this rising pollution crisis in SVG.
There is currently a need for a revolution in education that speaks to this and I am not talking about in our formal education system primarily. This has nothing to do with tourism either. This is for us, all Vincentians. There is urgent and crucial compulsion for a societal drive with fervent passion and fire to stamp out this evil in Vincentian kitchens, homes, back and front yards, villages, rivers, streams, mountains towns, roads, public buildings and venues, drains, schools, churches, villages and towns.
We have the mind set in this country where we pull out the best for visitors and when they are not looking we can be any old way. This is grossly seen in public service discrepancies in how different customers are served. If you look and talk a certain way you will be treated accordingly. This is the same mentality that is governing Vincentian society in other areas. You “nice up” to show certain classes but it will not matter too much if it is just others. There is something gravely needing rethinking in this mind set and the revolution of education in society must address this. Why can’t our children sit in the best chairs in the house, sleep on the nice bedding or drink from the nice glasses? Surely the guest will think its normal and normal practice in your home when they visit. But when they are gone, you will know and your children will know that you and them are not as deserving of something proper and up to scratch as the guest. Breaking news! Massa is dead! Let us continue to treat guest with beautiful Vincentian hospitality, but also, let’s review ourselves as certainly deserving as we deem them to be.
This same attitude is being grossly reflected in how we treat every square inch of these lands and polluters are yet to learn to live without a “massa”. Polluters will be themselves regardless of where they are. This then is almost a mental disease and needs a cure. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is facing an epidemic here. I will even suggest that there have been already scores of casualties in our human, animal and plant populations.
Nastiness needs to be viewed high on the agenda of things urgently needing the attention of parents, churches, schools, teachers, health care workers, civil servants, commuters, every organised group and team. It must become an obsession of every Vincentian — to stomp out all littering and polluting of these lands and this for “us”, not necessarily for “them”. It should be seen on every Facebook page and other social media in this country, on every bumper sticker, t-shirt, hat, and heard in song, poems, sermon and radio and television broadcast. Talk and the promotion to cure Vincentian society of dirty people behaviour.
A kind of education that equips free people to take ownership of good morals and dignified practices is long past needed amongst many in our society. Every Vincentian citizen must learn self-government and find value in choosing like a free patriot.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines must become a rival to countries like Singapore, New Zealand and Canada known for its hygiene and dustbin practices and clean environment. Every household and citizen must urgently become engaged.
I have a dream. That one day old and young Vincentians will be respected for their environmental practices and dogma and not by the stereotypes of a developing third world country. That we will stand out in the world as a country of people of colour who keep their country meticulously spic and span.
There are many ways in which this cause can be championed. As many in number as there are Vincentians.
What are the institutions and organisations in this country that must fuel the necessary mind shift? Do our political personalities regardless of party affiliation fear coming out of good favour with the public when they speak to moral ills in Vincentian society? Why is there silence on matters such as these? Is this a clue as to why society morals are in decline? Prove it wrong then politicians and not just ask for ruling power. Please, all of you speak to this nation about moral and responsible citizenship and tangibly exemplify it. While legislation cannot change the mind and heart in itself, you can speak to conscience and sense of ownership towards an improvement in self-worth and dignity that can in turn evoke positive change. Failure to see this responsibility is a failure to serve this nation.
Please Vincentians, help yourselves!
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