Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne. (File photo by Lance Neverson/Facebook)

Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne has again noted the divide in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, adding that the church and political parties have failed to bring the nation together.

Speaking at the swearing-in of the new Cabinet in Kingstown on Monday, he appealed to citizens to each play a role in healing the nation.

Sir Frederick noted that the programme for the ceremony read more like one for a religious service.

“It all goes to show that our country is steeped in Christianity,” he said.

The Head of State said he was at a church service three weeks ago and the preacher asked the congregants each to greet the person next to them and say, “God loves you and I love you.”

“So we all did that. But after it was done, I reflected on the whole exercise and I wondered do we really love our neighbour. That is my question to you. Do we really love our neighbour? We as a very Christian people.”

Sir Frederick said that as Governor General he is “very concerned about the division in our society, the division which has been made worse by the general elections.

“I have thought about this over a number of years and wonder why we cannot bring all of our people together. My personal opinion is that we have been depending on institutions — the party and the church — and they have failed to do so.

“So, my question to you is, ‘Can you, as an individual, do anything to bring our people together?’ We are all one Vincentian people, regardless of how we voted. And if this country is going to progress, we need unity.

“This is not something new coming from me. If you note a number of the addresses that the Honourable Prime Minister gives, he speaks of getting the people together in unity.

“We cannot move forward unless we unify our people. So, my charge to all of these members of Cabinet and maybe my charge to you is that tonight, before you go to sleep you have a conversation with yourself. And if you believe in God, you can invite him into the conversation and ask yourself ‘What can I, as an individual, do to bring all our people together?’”

The ceremony and the Governor General’s comments came as the main opposition New Democratic Party protested in Kingstown over the results of the Dec. 9 general election, which it claimed it won.

Officials say Ralph Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party won the elections eight seats to the NDP’s seven, a repeat of the December 2010 elections results.

9 replies on “Church, political parties have failed to unite St. Vincent – GG”

    1. Forget to mention the following:

      1. Are we truly a Christian society when our religious convictions are an inch thick and a mile wide. In particular, few of us — high society, the clergy, and the poorest of the poor — practice what we preach.

      2. Christianity is fundamentally based on individual salvation not collective well being. Hence, its core tenet — individual acceptance of a single god who sent his only begotten son … etc. — divides people on the basis of believers vs. non-believers. To be sure, there are many collective practices, but these are largely the sum total of individual acts. Even the social (as opposed to spiritual) gospel emphasizes individual vs. collective acts of kindness, love, and charity.

      3. The Church is one of the most divisive institutions in our society since it separates people on the basis of often trivial differences in creed and ritual.

      1. If I may answer for Peter:
        Do you really think that at two of the polling stations that 100% of the eligible people voted? (including that woman in Trinidad that must have some sort of “tell-a-porter” where she beamed up here and quickly beamed back down to Trinidad)……If you do believe that, then do you believe that MORE than 100% of the people voted in the third polling station? I guess they must really be dedicated voters in the Central Leeward because only 80% of the people voted elsewhere in SVG…And that is considered higher than normal!

      2. Lostpet, your assertions don’t constituted legal proof. Hopefully, the official poll-by-poll results will soon be available.

  1. This is nothing new and deserves a ho-hum reply.

    Countless social scientists have pointed out for decades that West Indian people, especially those of West African slave-society descent, are very individualistic/atomistic in social organization, and lack strong community, ethnic, and national solidarity and pride.

    The family is important, of course, but there is even a great deal of discord at this level of social organization as well.

    No better example is the difference in family loyalty and solidarity among Black people vs. East Indians.

    Rooted in the slave-society destruction of strong pre-existing kinship (family; lineage; clan) and tribal/ethnic bonds and the dog-eat-dog world of slave society, the vacuum created by this loss has been partially filled since adult franchise in 1951 (?) by party politics.

    Allegiance to a political party is now our (poor) substitute for allegiance to lineage, neighbourhood, clan, community, tribe, and even nation.

    Of course, all parties across the Caribbean have taken advantage of this new tribalism to serve their own greedy and power-hungry ends.

    Nothing Sir Frederick says can ever change this.

    1. JeanetteMolitorRussell says:

      I entirely agree. I was speaking of this with someone who like myself has/does work in St. Vincent delivering social development and bi-lingual literacy programs and saying that elections are not a time for people to think critically of what is best for the nation – instead it is an opportunity for which you are invited and rewarded to stand up publicly for your tribe. Free concerts, t-shirts, travel too and from events are a much welcomed change from the normal routine. Elections are exciting times that offer escape from the extreme challenge life has become for many in St. Vincent.

      I wish, oh how I wish, that speeches like this could wave a magic wand over the nation and make all well. But you rightly say that “nothing Sir Frederick says can ever change this”.

      Nothing anyone says can create change. Change requires action and sadly St. Vincent is good at talking but not so good at acting boldly for change that can slowly shift the culture towards a healthy civil society.

    2. Forget to mention the following:

      1. Are we truly a Christian society when our religious convictions are an inch thick and a mile wide. In particular, few of us — high society, the clergy, and the poorest of the poor — practice what we preach.

      2. Christianity is fundamentally based on individual salvation not collective well being. Hence, its core tenet — individual acceptance of a single god who sent his only begotten son … etc. — divides people on the basis of believers vs. non-believers. To be sure, there are many collective practices, but these are largely the sum total of individual acts. Even the social (as opposed to spiritual) gospel emphasizes individual vs. collective acts of kindness, love, and charity.

      3. The Church is one of the most divisive institutions in our society since it separates people on the basis of often trivial differences in creed and ritual.

  2. I just finished perusing the official election results as printed in the Friday, December 18 edition of the Searchlight newspaper and found that there was not a single poll in any of the 15 constituencies that reported the number of votes cast as being as high as or higher than the number of eligible voters.

    This turns out to be just another nasty lie spread to inflame the passions of our unlettered masses by those who could never let the facts stand in the way of their prejudices.

    Dr. Gonsalves asserted that the NDP could not read (a statement infused with racist underpinnings) during this year’s budget debates in the House of Assembly, a charge based on their questions and statements about what was contained in the lengthy budget document. What he really meant, but was too kind to state, was that they were too lazy (a statement, if expressed, also has a racist innuendo) to read the document in its entirely.

    Now it appears that they can’t or are to lazy to count.

    Again, none of this should be taken as my support for the ULP, a party whose leader is slowly but surely taking us to perdition and financial ruin.

    May God damn both parties!

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