An Opportunity to Look Back, Look Forward and Look Within
Dr. Didacus Jules, Director-General, OECS Commission
It has repeatedly claimed that the pen is mightier than the sword. And the truth of this is debatable because while empires have forged by steel and have been maintained by the sword, so too, they have fallen by the sword.
The pen for its part has shaped mentalities that have far outlived empires. It has authored ideologies that have created fictions of difference – on the pretext of geography, race, class, gender – that has influenced the many tribes to which we belong and erased our elemental belonging to the human race. But the pen has also lifted our gaze beyond those limiting categories to see beyond ourselves. It has found expression in the holy books of humanity and has established notions of divinity that lie beyond the hubris of Man (gender deliberate).
In our own geography, the pen has also etched the scrawl of our history in the treaties of warring empires that divided our archipelago, to the bills of sale that transacted the greatest commodification and sale of people in the human experience right up to contemporary times.
In our time, as we sought to become the authors of our own destiny, we have wielded the pen to express our ambition. And so, it came to be that a simple flourish of pen on 18th June 1981 in Basseterre in the Federation of St.Kitts and Nevis, the people of vision brought into being the OECS. And today, forty years later, the word has assumed substantial flesh.
Our celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States will involve not just looking back at the road already travelled but importantly also looking forward to the road ahead.
In doing this, we will be acknowledging the incalculable contributions of many who walked before us and the significant accomplishment on this journey to regional integration laid out in the road map of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre. It is also an opportunity for us to directly engage the citizen in the street on how the OECS has impacted their lives and circumstances.
It is an opportunity to listen to their expectations and ambitions for a future that has rendered so uncertain by a chain of crises and challenges – from climate change to disasters to the pandemic and its multi-sectoral havoc. But equally, it is a chance for us to look beyond these storms and to see the possibilities for speeding up our march to a closer, better integration that works for all.
As we enter this period of celebration and reflection, let us be guided by the Quero Apache prayer:
“Looking back, I am filled with gratitude,
Looking forward, I am filled with vision,
Looking inwards, I am filled with strength,
And looking within, I am filled with Peace.”
May gratitude, vision, strength and peace pervade our spirit and fortify our will in the next forty years.
For more articles on sustainability and social engagement in the Caribbean, read our latest issue of ApaNa Magazine.
Issue 5 provides a range of technical articles covering the environment, climate change and renewable energy, corporate giving and features nonprofit organisations including the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Barbados Youth Business Trust, the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange, Martin Keeley (renown mangrove activist and educator who developed the Mangrove Education Curriculum) and the Cayman Islands Mangrove Rangers.
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