As we look back over the last year, and still frightfully reflect on the damages wreaked by that terrible demon called Ivan;
- it should be more than enough evidence and food for thought, to push us all into truly understanding, that as pilgrims on
this Earth every day could be the last day.
If only many more of us, here at home or wherever else Worldwide, could honestly and sincerely come around to accepting
the un-certainty and the brittleness of our lives and mortal bodies - the World would be a very much better place for our
pilgrimage, however long or short it maybe.
The way people are behaving now-a-days, in both the private and public domain - it leaves one to seriously wonder what
it is, and why it is, and how it is, that as the much higher animal species, in an age where we have broken all manner of
scientific and technological barriers on this planet, and have for decades now even conquered the planets in outer space -
the frightening outlook seems to be, that we are on the course of self-destruction.
The inner fighting, the out fighting, the back-biting, the dirty dealings, the shameless refusal to accept that we are
wrong - even when it is crystal clear that the dice is loaded against us - all come together to paint a gloomy and daunting
picture, that the road ahead is full of pitfalls, and horrors, and man-made disasters.
And even when we seem to be following the footsteps of the One who laid down all those Christian virtues and disciplines,
many, too many, simply ignore, or conveniently forget, the very fundamental principles they were preaching the day before,
and behave towards others as though they are infallible, and in control of everything and everyone forever.
That type of behaviour foolishly fail to consider - that we are all human beings and just pilgrims and mere travellers
on this Earth.
How much of the foregoing applies to the late Dame Eugenia Charles, former Prime Minister of Dominica, is a matter of
opinion from those who knew that great Caribbean patriot.
Her death in Martinique last week, brought to an end a historic career in Law and Politics - which left an indelible mark
on the Caribbean as a whole, and for us in Grenada in particular.
It is important to remember, that the Lady Lawyer and Politician was a student of the St. Josephs Convent in St. George's
- way back when Grenada led the Caribbean in the field of Secondary Education, at those two institutions of the St. Joseph
Convent and the Grenada Boys Secondary School (G.B.S.S.). Those who did not come to study at those Schools, came to teach
on their Staff.
And it may just be, that because of that early association with Grenadians and what we stood for way back then - the goodly
Lady felt compelled to come to our assistance in a time of our greatest need in October, 1983.
Of course, her concerns started long before that fateful month; to be exact, in March, 1979, when the NJM successfully
carried out the first Revolution in the English Speaking Caribbean, with the very active help and material support of Castros
The very religious lady Prime Minister was totally against Communism and its anti-Christian doctrines, as well as the
closely related Marxist principle of the denial of freedom of speech and basic human rights.
She felt so strongly about the negative impact of Communism on our Caribbean Society, that she bluntly refused to accept
Castros many offers of Scholarships to Dominican nationals.
Against that background, therefore, it was not all very difficult for her to take the leading position in the after math
of the bloody massacre that erupted on Fort Rupert on the 19th October, 1983. In fact, the occurrencies on that very sad day
in our turbulent history, from 1972 onwards, clearly vindicated her strongly felt belief - that if you use violent means to
gain power and control the people, the same people would utilise violent means to get you off their backs in the fullness
As the Prime Minister of Dominica in 1983, she was also the person occupying the Chairmanship of the OECS, and it is with
that cap on her head that she took the initiative to get the support of the other OECS Leaders; and more importantly, also
the full support of Prime Minister Edward Seaga of Jamaica and the late Prime Minister Tom Adams of Barbados.
With that level of support behind her, and the long-standing fears and suspicions of the U.S.A. Government - bursting
at the seams to get at the fermenting Marxist/Leninist doctrines that were expanding in Grenada under the P.R.G. - it did
not take too much persuasion to get the late President Ronald Reagan to mount and lead the Rescue Mission in Grenada, along
with the other Caribbean States headed by Prime Minister Eugenia Charles.
I had met the lady Lawyer before she became Prime Minister of Dominica and we were fairly well acquainted as Lawyers.
And after the Revolution of March 13th 1979, and I was Atg. Attorney General for the next year, we did meet on one of my trips
through the Islands as Attorney General when she expressed her concerns about the happenings in Grenada at the time.
After I resigned from the P.R.G. in June, 1980, and was detained in July the next year as a Counter with the two other
Grenadian Voice Shareholders, Leslie and Tillman - I know she made representation to the P.R.G. on my behalf for early release
- which was ignored.
But her efforts after October 19th 1983, most definitely brought about my safe release - along with the other One Hundred
and three Detainees, who were also at Richmond Hill and Hope Vale concentration Camp at the time.
I got a first hand account of the part she played, and had the golden opportunity to meet both herself and the late President
Ronald Reagan at the White House in Washington D.C. soon after the Rescue Mission.
The late Prime Minister Charles, the late Allister Hughes, and myself, were invited to give Evidence before a joint sitting
of the Congress and Senate at Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. - on the happenings in Grenada before, during, and after the
Revolution, and since the Rescue Mission.
Each of use gave evidence for about three hours apiece and were intensively cross-examined by Members of both the Democrats
and Republicans in the House. And we met in private session with the President thereafter.
To crown it all, and more so because of Prime Minister Eugenia Charles and Allister, rather than little me, the President
ordered Air Force ONE to take us three from St. Andrews Air Force Base to Dominica to drop Eugenia, to Grenada (partly finished
Point Salines) to drop Lloyd Noel, and to Piarco in Trinidad and Tobago to drop Allister - who was going to another meeting.
Whatever anyone may wish to say about the happenings in October, 1983, Dame Eugenia Charles, now deceased, was firmly
convinced she acted properly and did the right thing - and the great majority of Grenadians fully agreed with her, and will
forever be indebted to President Reagan and the Iron Lady for saving them from further bondage and deprivation.
She was firstly a Dominican, secondly an adopted Grenadian, and thirdly a proud Caribbean woman.
We will always remember her, and sincerely hope and pray - that she will find peace and comfort on the other side - having
played her part to the fullest on this side.
Deepest condolences to her relatives, friends, and countrymen/women - and even greater praises and glory that we knew
her, and enjoyed her presence and benefitted from her talent and courage and dedication - during her pilgrimage.
The real sadness associated with the passing on of public servants like the late Dame Eugenia Charles, is not so much
that they are gone ahead - because that is the final outcome for us all, on this journey of life here on Earth. It is much
more the reality, that the Legacy they have left behind is going a-begging, in that the people taking over from them, or trying
to follow in their footsteps, are not adopting their qualities nor emulating the standards they set.
And therein lies the real problem for or with our Caribbean politics in these trying times.
The Commitment to genuine nation or regional building, is not there; the dedication to giving service to their fellow-men,
for their improvement and up-liftment as a people, is not there; and the sincere belief in what they are saying and doing,
for and about the people, is not there.
Instead, they are hell-bent on carrying on vendettas to a ridiculous never-ending dead-end; by their own suspect behaviour,
and or the methods they use to win support or influence others, they are down grading the system and degrading their supporters
- and by extension making a mockery of the very plans and programs they are projecting.
In short, they are spending or giving away scarce resources and en-riching the few hangers-on around them, without building
up the body-politic even in their own party.
And by so doing they are building Castles on sand, that will collapse as certainly as night follows day, and vice versa.
If only those who presume to lead us, can sooner rather than later come to realise - that as Pilgrims on Earth time will
catch up with them, so that it is much better and far more rewarding to build bridges, rather than dig dividing trenches among
the people they are supposedly leading - this Island nation, the region, and the World at large, will be a truly worthwhile
place for all of us to live and interact - as we travel on this journey just once in a lifetime.