October 26, 2005

Emerging From Hibernation

Greetings fellow aliens!

Yes I know about the search and rescue parties sent out on my behalf. Thank you for all the warm fuzzy thoughts. I am alive and well, winding down my third year in St. Lucia and anticipating everything from a fourth year here (hopefully on a CSME certificate) to God knows what. The universe always has a way of dropping drastic changes into my path.

Right now I am just coming out of a Mt. Everest pile of work and obligations. As those of you who have shared the advertising experience know, August to December is HELL in an agency. Calendars, annual reports, xmas promotions, 2006 marketing plans and more. Furthermore with Digicel's acquisition of Cingular's Caribbean operations in Antigua, Anguilla, St. Kitts, Nevis, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Curacao and Dominica, I have time for little else.

That however does not mean I am not brimming over with issues I need to vent on. Foremost on my mind is the island closest to my heart, Trinidad. I am fighting off massive depression over what is going on. I have stopped reading the online newspapers because it is feeding a fear of returning to my country to start a life. At night I dream of tidal waves, volcanoes and mass panic in the streets of my country. I keep feeling something BAD and unavoidable is going to happen and like most of my friends, the powerlessness is overwhelming. At times the anger in me wells up and I just explode into a rant, sometimes at the most inappropriate of times.

You see, the disgusting mess in Trinidad is part of a wider epidemic that I see infecting almost every island I travel to. Right now in St. Lucia, there is a crime wave and law enforcement too incompetent to stop it. In Trinidad it is kidnappings, over here it is theft and rape, pedophilia in particular is rampant. For an island of only around 160,000 it is disgusting how high it is. The cost of living is going up and the gap between the classes is widening at a fast rate and you can feel the anger and frustration brimming. People snap and quarrel over any petty incident. Just as Trinidadians are losing their joie de vive, so too are Lucians losing their docile demeanor. The office where I work has been broken into THREE TIMES this year, even with an alarm system installed. Attacks on and harassment of tourists is escalating. Just like my home country, those with money have become tense, insular and suspicious. People are desperate and I am growing tired of living in the midst of it and not being able to do anything to dramatically change it. I know so many of you feel the same way.

I know I am living in the "third world" but until a few years ago, that was never even an issue. Although our islands were never big contenders on the world's economic landscape, I certainly never felt like a "third world" citizen and there was always a feeling of hope. Our ability to cope, innovate, commune, rally our spirits compensated for much inconvenience and social problems. We held this spirit that things could get better and we would live to see it get better. My generation especially felt like the one with the ideas, energy, will and power to make it happen.

Could it be that we are actually running out of that juice that nourished us in the face of challenges? As I struggle not to once again fall into the pit of living from paycheck to paycheck like I did in Trinidad, even while I work harder than I ever did professionally and all the while coping with the very palpable human misery all around me, I feel one overwhelming feeling....... FATIGUE. Not of body but of spirit. I understand so completely the way Trinis are right now, "to themselves" reserved, withdrawn and holding fast to personal strength. There is none to share anymore. Those of us who give, give, give, give, give and give some more of our positive energy, ideas, creative expression know what I am talking about. And yet, still I keep thinking maybe just maybe there is a very good reason for all of this. We've had it GOOD the past twenty years or so and what have we REALLY accomplished for our country with all of our BIG ideas, creative endeavors and philosophical thinking and talking over wine at our dinner parties? We who have had the comfort of a middle class upbringing and a good education are now experiencing the fear and a dose of the hard financial times of our working class and poor brothers and sisters. Like them, we now know it feels to live in fear in our own neighbourhoods. Like them we now have to decide between two or more equally necessary purchases. Nothing brings into sharp focus all the other problems than fear and swiftly approaching poverty.

The truth is that revolution requires a massive dose of desperation to ignite it. Many of us have always been the fire proof buffer of reason and status quo maintenance. We would think of protesting, of starting a revolt but then we'd chicken out because we have "responsibilities" and a "reputation". To be honest, few of us have felt it like we do now and there is a dangerous excitement about it. Let's not become afraid again. Let us embrace our rage and perhaps we can find in it the fuel we need to fire our activism against our corrupt and inept governments and disempowered societies.

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