Those stories as reported in your Wednesday, 9 January, 2013, issue should be cause for alarm to those of us who live in this society. While I share this alarm, I am not surprised that it has come to this.
For years there was a small group of persons who warned that we were ‘measuring our progress on a faulty report card’. From as early as the 1950s, Commissioner Andrew Morris Gerrard warned us against “selling our birthright for a mess of pottage”. Instead of heeding his advice, we continued to act contemptuously, relying instead on the quick fix solution of selling absolute titles to our land to outsiders whose view of private property was contrary to the cultural realities of island people in a close knit community. As if this was not problematic enough, we paid no attention to the education, training and social welfare of our people in those years when the small number of such persons would have allowed us to effectively address the dysfunction that was beginning to manifest itself.
Fast forward to the late 1960s and mid 1970s when the pace of economic development accelerated to such dizzying levels that even our self promoted enlightened political leaders became misguided into promoting ‘more is better’, with still no significant investment into the development of Caymanian human capital. The vast majority were led to believe that the panacea lay in banking and tourism, even when that meant importing increasing numbers of foreign experts, who would eventually chose to stay. Even the Swedish anthropologist, Ulf Hannerz in his seminal study: Caymanian Politics: Structure and Style in a Changing Island Society, failed to ignite the imagination of the movers and shakers in our society. Worse was to happen when persons like myself and Dr. Frank McField came along in the 1970s calling for a change of focus and a sensitivity to what we saw as budding problems.
Today it is becoming increasingly clear that “we have sewn the wind”. Having been a college student in a neighbouring Caribbean jurisdiction in the mid 1960s ,I find the occurrences chillingly familiar. We have been the architects of our own demise and we should therefore resist the easy and popular practice of blaming others for what is becoming of us today. What a pity that we did not realise that our future lay as much in education, training and the social upliftment of the less fortunate of our people, as much as it lay in banking and tourism. Today, banking and tourism, though in a state of flux, are controlled by non-Caymanian entities, the legal profession is a cartel and racism and classism is rampant. Discrimination and glass ceilings abound, an underclass has emerged and the society is rapidly being criminalised.
Where will it all end? Those who have sewn the wind are fated to reap the whirlwind.