Cayman Islands: An exhortation to reasoned debate

Rage — Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses, hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls, great fighters’ souls, but made their bodies carrion, feasts for the dogs and birds …

— Homer, Iliad, 1.1-5

Anger, that most ancient and dangerous of emotional forces, predates the development of human reason, and still, today, for many people, is an internal dictator of impulsive action and subjugator of rational thought.

On a daily basis, we see the results of unregulated anger on an individual level – assaults, confrontations, hateful invective – incidents and sentiments that in the Cayman Islands, it seems, are becoming more and more commonplace, what with growing financial stress, pressure for reform and change, and perceptions of direct threats to people’s accustomed ways of life.

In a strictly scientific sense, it is only natural for a person’s first response to conflict to be the emotion of anger, which originates in the primitive part of the brain (the limbic system) associated with simpler life forms. Only after the onset of initial anger are the higher mental faculties called into play to modulate that anger with reason. Put another way, anger (in fact, all emotions) precede reason and rationality.

That’s why it’s literally true that an angry mob has no mind.

A group of angry individuals, emboldened by anonymity and left unchecked by judicious authorities or societal norms, can quickly spiral into threatening, even very dangerous, behavior.

In every society, to some extent, an undercurrent of anger runs among those who feel they are being challenged, marginalized or overlooked. In Cayman, we observe that this has been rising in some sectors of the population – Caymanian and expatriate – noticeably in the 10 years since the onslaught of Hurricane Ivan.

Radio talk show hosts talk openly of “revolution” and then, gratuitously, condemn it. Anonymous bloggers make statements they would never utter if their names were attached to their words. (Their hateful words were in full flower following the “not guilty” verdicts in the McKeeva Bush trial.)

At Kaibo in North Side recently, diners did nothing (other than to continue dining) as they witnessed an individual being beaten into unconsciousness after being struck with a two-by-four. At sporting events, brawls break out all too routinely on the playing field, parents of youngsters too often the participants.

Even within the Legislative Assembly, certain members are known not for their eloquence but for their bombast. Tantrums that one might associate with 4-year-olds in the aisles of Foster’s Food Fair are regularly on display. While elected members don’t have anonymity, they do have “privilege” and thus are immune from prosecution for the libel, slander, and defamation they utter. They would never repeat on the street the vitriol they spew on the floor of the House, thereby inviting the additional charge of cowardice.

For these reasons and others, it is imperative that Cayman’s thought leaders be willing to step forward as individuals, with their names attached to their comments, to seize ownership and leadership of the debate over Cayman’s future.

We urge the elevation of this discussion to a higher plane, and to channel the country’s heated energy into calm, measured and constructive action. As a country, we don’t need unanimity of opinion, but we do need unity of purpose.
This is a test not just of Cayman’s strength or will as a people, but of the soundness of our character as a society. 

1 COMMENT

  1. I am a Caymanian, and have been a Political Watch Dog for at least 45 years, and can safely say Politics ruined this Island. The people used to live peaceful with each other including foreigners. But as soon as the Party System showed it’s head; everything changed and life became a bad dog fight. Back in the day we had Stand up men of Valor whom we could depend upon to march forward with the nation behind them setting the records straight. Today we have stand up Comedians only seeking power. No one will step forward as an individual and put a pen behind their voice just for the simple answer Mr. editorial; that majority of the Ghost bloggers are Expat Caymanians. Politicians only make excuse an promises year after year to the people who has been bewitched into believing each year it will be better. We will always see a unity of opinion and not one of purpose for the country because the majority is hell bent on every man for himself.

  2. I have to say I am not sure if I understand the editorial however I would have to say I have seen some of the same rage, unwarrented comments and slander refer to in this publication of the Compass. Condecending to say the least towards many persons including public officials.

  3. In early 2011, I received an email from someone signing himself One Angered Caymanian, attacking me for what he thought (wrongly) were anti-Caymanian opinions expressed in a recent blog-post of mine. I published the email in full in my next blog-post, in April, using the emailer’s signature as the headline. Anybody interested can find it in the archives of my Barlow’s Cayman blogsite. It contains language that is not suitable for publication in a family newspaper, so be warned!

    I’m glad to say the attack was only in words – but how sad it is, that violence has become so much more common in recent years. The occasional Compass remonstration is useful, I suppose, but it would be far better if the Compass Editorial Board (anonymous though it is) mounted a *sustained* campaign against violence, and violent talk. Is there any chance of that?

  4. Again Twyla I say, This is the world in which we live. Man Against Man, Brother against Brother and Neighbor against Neighbor is human Nature. This is why the party system thrives and not just in Cayman. Right from adolescence children learn to pit one parent against the other to get what they want and as they mature they learn to master this behavior. In Cayman you will never see the opposition working with the sitting government because it is their job to oppose them. It would be nice however to see them oppose them with realistic alternatives instead of opposing them for oppositions sake.

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