By *Jomo Sanga Thomas
(“Plain Talk” Oct. 29, 2021)
“We know they are lying. They know they are lying. They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know we know they are lying. And still, they continue to lie.” — Alexander Solzhenitsyn
In a scathing speech to mark the 70th anniversary of America’s independence in 1852, Frederick Douglas, the African American ex-slave turned freedom fighter, said, “This 4th of July is yours, not mine, you may rejoice, I must mourn.”
Most Vincentians could certainly understand and agree with Douglas’ sentiments as they marked Independence Day on Wednesday.
The 42nd anniversary of our independence will go down in history as our saddest to date. Our nation was birthed in volcanic ash following the eruption of the La Soufriere on April 13, 1979. As if intended as a second baptism, the forces of nature covered us with ash, though not gloom, on April 9, 2021.
We faced the volcano united and determined. We did not lose lives. Our diaspora, regional neighbours and the international community came to our assistance. We survived.
Little did we know that our unity would be soon shattered, and gloom would overshadow much of the land. As the COVID pandemic rolled on, nerves were shattered. Last year’s capeless heroes were now heartless, selfish and ignorant.
Sections of the population that did not follow the mantra of compliance that came from on high fared even worse. They were not only ignorant but also stupid. They were holding the country back, and some were labelled killers while the suspects knitted a stagecraft and statecraft whose negative consequences will haunt this nation for generations to come.
COVID-19 policies have shattered economies and pauperised citizens. Many can’t make ends meet. Begging by the young and old alike has reached an all-time high. Unemployment is mounting and will soon increase as the government and private business owners press their mandates for COVID protocol compliance.
In an attempt to gain uptake in vaccines, the government has declared everyone in its employ an essential worker. It has demanded that every nurse, teacher, police officers, workers at our seaports and airports, those employed in statutory corporations and others sitting on boards be vaccinated or else.
Persons with decades of service to the nation are threatened with dismissal, unemployment and likely tricky if not impossible future. Poverty, which before this crisis overwhelmed more than one-third of our population, is expected to rise. The social fabric of the nation is being torn asunder. Most people are in low spirits from loss of hope or courage. Neighbours and fellow citizens are agitated to look at their colleagues with suspicion, if not scorn.
Discrimination frowned on in constitutions that undergird liberal democratic practice is now legitimised. Some wear their vaccination status as a badge of honour and a ticket to society’s graces, while the vast majority of the population are viewed with suspicion. Vaccine hesitancy is demonised.
Thought leaders confuse and conflate issues regarding medicine, science and vaccines. They glibly tell us that these vaccines are just like all of the others. They show disregard for the fact that these were produced with warped speed, their efficacy is waning, and their long-term safety is unknown. They dismiss as unrelated and explain away every adverse effect that many who have taken the jab report. SVG remains the only country in the world where there have been no severe adverse effects from the vaccines.
Unfortunately for the authorities, the people live a different experience. Never in the history of our country has official messages met with such blanket disdain. Never has there been such overwhelming distrust of public officials. Transparency has never been a strong suit of our governments. But now, more than ever, policy has been shrouded in mystery.
Those who believe the government mantra shout at the rest of society. Those in doubt look on in disbelief as some of their trusted leaders threaten them with dismissal if they assert their right to choice and safety. Our society is unbalanced and unstable. Things are not going well and most likely will not end well.
With wanton disregard for science and the welfare of future generations, policymakers, spurred on by those with deep pockets and powerful governments, have absolutely lost their minds. They are now circling the wagon readying themselves to vaccinate all of our young adults and children as young as 5 years old. We know that persons in this age group are least likely to contract or transmit COVID or become seriously ill if they become infected. Yet…
Basic science regarding naturally acquired immunity is also thrown out the window. Study after study shows that naturally acquired immunity is far more enduring and can meet every threat from the coronavirus, yet our health establishment mandates vaccinations for anyone who was infected with COVID-19 after one month. The fools who run Antigua do a little better than us and, say, three months after infection.
As we take the first few steps into our 43rd year following the declaration of independence, we appear even more dependent than ever before. There is nothing on the horizon for which we can be optimistic or cheerful. Some say that we have to make the best of it.
Frederick Douglas reminds us that “Power conceded nothing without a demand. Never did and never will.” The people must take to heart these wise words. We have to fight the powers. Only mass resistance can save us from bad outcomes and guarantee a more sustainable future.
*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and a former Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
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