Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.(iWN file photo)

*By Jomo Sanga Thomas

(“Plain Talk”, May 22, 2020)

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely — or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!’ — Oscar Wilde

We are at a crucial point in our society where political correctness has become permanent features of the political firmament. The sole intent of the political class is to intimidate a large swath of society, friend and foe alike, into reluctant obedience.

All of us must decide what kind of future we want for ourselves and our children, our neighbours and the nation we call home. We must decide to speak up now or risk being enslaved by an overbearing orthodoxy that desires strict conformity. Speaking up does not mean blind and mindless opposition. As Ta-Nahisi Coates says, “it must mean placing our leaders and nation under unrelenting scrutiny because they are all we have got”.

We must never become so complacent so as to allow extreme minority voices to rule over the reasonable majority. It is a truism that the world will not be destroyed only by those who do wrong or evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.

Many of us went to the best schools, pursued outstanding careers and made successes of ourselves. However, we have been indoctrinated to believe the mind-benders. We may have been trained, rather than educated. We cannot really claim to be educated if we never question prevailing reality or take life alternating risks in pursuit of the common good.

Too many of us are afraid to speak our minds? We stand by, sometimes cheer as friends, acquaintances, family members are shamed, intimidated or brutalised into submission for speaking their minds? We practise self-censorship, afraid to rouse the maddening mob, even when that mob is perceived, often incorrectly, to be the majority? How many of us are too scared to have our lives ruined, simply for standing up for what we believe in?

People who try to silence dissent against “popular belief” are scared of individual thought. They attempt to silence contrarian views not because their ideas are intellectually superior, but because they are fragile. They don’t know how to coherently and confidently defend their ideas against scrutiny. They offer rage and slander instead of enlightening conversation. Their mantra remains, wrong forum, not here, not now!

They shut down debate so that they can stay safe and certain in their conceited and deceitful bubbles. They don’t want to doubt their current beliefs; they refuse to grow and to acknowledge that they might be wrong.

They confuse and conflate their views with what is right for the nation and its people. They have complete disregard for informed debate and policy opinions that differ from theirs.

We need people to speak up, now more than ever.

In this COVID-19 period and beyond, the interrogation of those controlling of our financial, educational, religious and power corridors must become a permanent feature of our lives.

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

10 replies on “Speak now or forever hold your peace”

  1. Call them out says:

    Jomo, you know I was just going to look for your article from last Sunday to read then out pop this one. There is something that fascinates me about you and it is simple – you are a damn hypocrite and blasted bigot. Why? You are just like those who have written the preamble to the US constitution – they claimed that all men were equal while blacks were deemed nobody and treated as nobody, the indigenous people were deemed nobody also and treated, as such and poor whites were treated like trashed to be thrown out. Also, you are just like those who talk about the ideals of democracy but work tirelessly to ensure that those ideals never become reality.
    Here you are, talking about speak out and all sort of crap but yet you are one of them who use your privileged position in society to stifle the voices of others when they speak. I came to you with my issue against the rich, white, privileged, connected and influential in St. Vincent and the Grenadines but you refused even to listen to my grievance as it relates to a public issue. Hypocrite and bigot you are.
    Remember, not so long ago you were speaker of the house and didn’t nothing to make the voices of others heard. You are such a hypocrite and a bigot. How much time, did you make Ralph and your colleagues account for their actions? How much times did you stop Ralph them overreaching? What are you doing as a journalist and a human rights lawyer to allow people voice to be heard?
    Man, you need to stop your hypocrisy and bigotry and go sit down. You are no damn good. Your actions are totally contrary to what you are saying.
    By the way, I am still waiting on your response to my email. Guess what, I have law degree and my licence is pending. I will do my own case in the interest of the village. Them ain’t going to take our public. Because we ain’t going to allow them to enslave in perpetuity. People like you I ain’t have no respect for.

  2. I could trash your thesis right now because Trump doesn’t care about political correctness, just last week or so he refused to invite the Obamas to the WH for the traditional unveiling of portraits of the former president himself and his wife. You need a few vodka tonics to set you straight.

  3. Fidus Achates says:

    Jomo you had the platform to do and it’s sad that you didn’t. SVG is so disappointed in you in how you could’ve effect change and didn’t and now trying to inspire change when you had the most effective medium to do so. Utterly disappointed I would say. I respect you but my opinion is that you didn’t do what’s right when you were in the most powerful seat in government as house Speaker in parliament.

  4. I agree Jomo. Now more than ever is the time to speak to those in control of our education, religious persuasion and finances nationally. Now is surely NOT the time to be interrogated & so be afraid to speak. I refuse to be intimated in speaking & acting as I have NOTHING to loose. I have a mission to accomplish.

  5. All very good information. Hard to believe that Jomo was himself one of these people he is criticizing, just a short time ago. I have usually disagreed with about half of what Jomo stands for, (but he has a right to feel that way as long as he does not force it onto us) but this is something most of us can agree with.

  6. Is Ralph Gonsalves and the ULP you talking bout? He probably doing like MC Hammer(“can’t touch this”)right now watching to you. You had better join the NDP.

  7. Saint Vincent’s bureaucracy is composed almost entirely of Gonsalves family members, and is therefore known as a “dynasty.” The leader of this dynasty is Ralph Gonsalves.

    The source of this bureaucracy’s stability is that it naturally forms around people’s tendency to only look out for themselves and the dynasty. SVG politicians follow exactly what Ralph wants and demands.

    Everyone must say they are loyal to Ralph; he is unquestionably the unquestioned leader. When he first came into power, you would think those loyal to him would be truthful and decent, but that’s not true.

    Some are, but others believe he is the best of the worst. Others saw his power grab as an opportunity to gain their political footing. Earn money from the regime, and push and support his quest for everlasting power.

  8. If you take the time to look back Kenton to 2013.14, 15, 16 when you posted promptly all the comments, people made more comments. You had more readers and more commentaries.

    The commentary is perhaps as important, or even more important than the article.

    Commentary is so important for recording history, your job is not just writing about things that you approve of or feel strongly about. But what people think about what is happening. Even if you have different views or hate the comments.

    Please Kenton try and post my commentaries, and do so promptly.

    Kenton, IWitness News is the most important historical recording for St Vincent and the Grenadines ever.
    Over the last few years a number of Caribbean media sites have closed down and/or gone out of business. And when doing so the articles and news have been lost for ever. I would be great of you can arrange for the records to remain available if you should die or the business closes down. Think about it, it is so important.

    Because you personally do not like some of the comments should be irrelevant, what is important is for the sake of recorded history you record every ones views, even if they are not to your standards or beliefs.

    You know that over the years I have always respected your decisions, it’s your business and your decision.
    But you do owe a duty of care to the people of SVG.

    1. Nathan ‘Jolly’ Green, had it not been for irresponsible comment by some commenters — yourself and Peter Binose included — we could have had automatic moderation of comments. However, because of the potentially libelous this often said in the comment section, each comment has to be carefully moderated.

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