This letter is in response to a letter that ran in the 6 April, 2011, edition of the Caymanian Compass titled ‘What is Cayman culture?’.
It was with interest that I read the article. The writer asked some very profound questions and I believe they are worthy of an answer. Unfortunately, I may end up raising even more questions, which will require Caymanians to consider and answer individually before was can answer nationally.
The writer asked ‘what is Cayman culture?’ and alluded to the surface matter of the response. ‘Their penchant for hard work. Their civility, their honesty and respect for their neighbours coalesced into what was truly Caymanian.’ Here the writer pointed out some of the principles the Caymanian people lived by, many of which are still evident today. The fact is that the principles we live by are the definition of who we are. Culture is the manner in which we enact and express these core principles within a geographical confine.
The Cayman Islands was built on three great principles. First and foremost was love for God. That is the one true God as revealed in the Holy Bible. God the Father and God the Son. The Son was made manifest to us for our salvation as Jesus Christ. He is the Saviour of this fallen world. The second great principle of Caymanian culture was love of family. Families stuck together no matter what! Family decisions were made with the benefit of the entire family in mind, not just one or two individuals. Regardless of the item in question, it’s distribution was family wide; whether a catch of fish or a bunch of bananas. The third foundational principle of Caymanian culture was love of neighbours. Neighbours were treated like extended family. Wherever there was overflow it was lovingly, freely given.
I was truly privileged and blessed to be born and afforded the opportunity to grow and develop within this environment. It was a little Heaven on Earth. Communication was vibrant, open and honest. Respect for others, especially your elders was a must. Discipline was quickly, effectively and efficiently dispatched by all members of the community, as needed. Children were raised within the context of the community as a whole, not just the individual homes and immediate families.
The writer cited the dilution of our population resulting from immigration and expatriate rule over a docile population as explanations for what remains of our culture today…I utterly refute those explanations. It is up to each individual to examine themselves and decide who they are daily! Additionally, I am uncertain as to where they myth of Caymanians being a docile people has risen from. Nothing could be further from the truth! I assure you that we are more than willing to stand up and fight to the death for what we believe in. The question is, what exactly is that? The almighty dollar, corruption of what were natural expressions of indigenous activities and strong outside influences are closer to the truth.
When we lose sight of God and offer our worship to anything else, which for the most part appears to be wealth and material possessions, we lose our selves! Not that there is anything wrong with wealth and material possessions, in and of themselves, but we greatly err when we make them the central focus of our lives, which is worshipping them! These things are unable to fulfil and succour the yearnings of the human soul. That space is reserved for God and only He can truly fill it and bring forth the blessings of peace, righteousness and holiness, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. If we lose ourselves it is impossible to maintain good and right family and neighbourly relationships.
Fellow Caymanians, I urge you, remember who you are! Let us together turn our faces towards our heavenly Father. He is waiting to bless us beyond what we can ask or even imagine. Let us not forget that He is merciful, long suffering, slow to anger and just.