President of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers Association of New York, Jackson Farrell, says he’s deeply troubled by what he characterizes as a “new low” in electioneering in his native land.
“As we end our 33rd Anniversary Celebrations with our annual luncheon, we are operating in trying times at home and abroad,” said Farrell, who recently retired as a public school teacher in New York City, after over two decades, in his welcome remarks Sunday, at the gala event, at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn.
“We have taken the elections to a new low,” added Farrell in his prepared statement, taking the unusual step in commenting on the political status quo at home in his association’s official ceremony. “Tensions, divisions, character assassinations and destruction of property seem to be the hallmark of that event.
“What is even more troubling is the fact that the elections are over, but the saga continues,” continued Farrell, who taught elementary and secondary schools at home before migrating to New York. He was flanked at the head table by UN Ambassador I. Rhonda King and Counsel General Selmon Walters.
“What happens to the least among us?” queried Farrell rhetorically. “What happens to nation-building? These seem to be foreign concepts at this time.”
In diverting from his script, Farrell said: “St. Vincent and the Grenadines is bigger than Ralph (Gonsalves, the prime minister), Eustace (Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace), the Red Party (Unity Labor Party), the Green Party, or any other party.”
Later, in elaborating on his remarks, he added the Democratic Republican Party in an exclusive Caribbean Life interview.
“Those of us out here (in the Diaspora) really should be setting an example for folks back in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Farrell in the interview in an adjoining room to the gala event. “But it seems to me that, in some ways, we’re worst, because of comments posted on Face Book and whatever. It’s ridiculous.”
In a recent press conference in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, Gonsalves accused some United States-based nationals of directing terroristic activities against St. Vincent and Grenadines via the social media, primarily Facebook.
In this nexus, he said that he had informed the Barbados-based U.S. Ambassador to the sub-regional Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which includes St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Jackson also described as “ridiculous” statements made on Face Book by some Vincentian nationals in the US, urging their compatriots to boycott Vincentian-owned businesses that are seemingly or perceptibly not supportive of their political views or stance.
“The message we should be sending is that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is bigger than any political party,” said Farrell, who was considered a militant in the teachers movement before migrating to the U.S.
“The [international] airport project is very important,” he added. “If we believe that will be the alpha and omega (the beginning and the end) of the country, that will not happen.
“If we don’t have the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines working together, we will not have development, because our greatest resources are the people,” Farrell warned.
In rather abstract or philosophical terms, King, who, with Walters, also addressed the ceremony, said that “the creation of value ultimately rests in the power of performance of the individual.
“It is how the individual chooses to see or think about the world around him or her that fuels that power of performance,” said the diplomat without being specific.
She then quoted tersely from Ralph Waldo Emerson, a 19th century American Transcendentalist poet, philosopher and essayist: “A little consideration of what takes place around us every day would show us that a higher law than that of ours will regulate events…
“Belief and love — a believing love will relieve us of a vast load of care,” added King in quoting Emerson.
“Fellow Vincentians, my prayer is that 2016 will be a year of miracles,” King said. “And what do I mean by a miracle? It is often thought that a miracle occurs if the higher law acquiesces to our will.
“I believe, however, a real miracle occurs when we acquiesce to the higher law,” she added. “My wish for all of us in 2016 is that we align ourselves with that higher law so that our individual and collective performance will possess true transformative power that creates lasting value.”
In congratulating honoree Dr. Clifford Young, King said: “You are [a] true exemplar of alignment to a higher law. I wish you continued success in 2016.”
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Teachers Association of New York also presented bouquet of flowers to “long-term patrons” Dawn Matthews-Baker and Pamela Mornix, and basket of cheers to Dawn Duncan, Margaret Knight and Don Bobb, veteran Vincentian radio personality, who served as Master of Ceremonies.