Categorized | Features, General

De Ole Dawg – Part 25: Healing the land

What about the T-factor: Transformation?

BRADES, Montserrat, Nov. 5,  2016 – For over twenty years since the volcano disaster struck, Montserrat has been stuck in a long-term economic and social malaise. Government after government seems to struggle to forge a way forward, against stiff resistance. A long list of needed breakthrough projects cannot seem to get off the ground. Leadership too often seems to be in disarray – and is sometimes at daggers drawn.  Scandal after scandal has left a taint of corruption and mistrust. 

commandingSomething different, something transformational, is needed; if we are to find a way forward.

That is why I find myself haunted by the seven mountains/ gateways of influence imagery that the Rev. Dr Nicholson repeatedly highlighted in his sermons here, last April. There is something in that, something deeply insightful. And, I believe, something that can give us strategic vision for a breakthrough. Not just here in Montserrat, but also across our region and far beyond.

(After all, historically, Montserrat has often been a place of beginnings. So, why not now, why not here, and why not us on our watch today?)

As I look at the seven mountains diagram, a half-forgotten bit of history comes to mind: citadels, forts within cities of the ancient world that were often built on convenient commanding heights, as centres of refuge – and, sometimes, as power bases for oppressors. For example, the Acropolis in Athens was a citadel. Acro-Corinth was famously strong. And as recently as the battle of Hue in Vietnam, a citadel proved a tough, costly nut to crack. Also, at the time of the Maccabean uprising against Antiochus Epiphanes – from 168 BC on, the Jews captured Jerusalem, but Greek soldiers remained in the Acra for years, seriously weakening the Maccabees’ hold on power.

(That sounds all too familiar to many situations in the Caribbean and elsewhere; where, entrenched power elites can and do unduly hinder, frustrate or even cripple change agents voted into electoral office by the people. Business As Usual [BAU] for a community is so for a reason: that’s where the power brokers want to go. And, power- wielders can be quite stubborn, even if they are on an obvious march of folly to ruin. [That is what Acts 27 shows us, as it lets us see what happened in Fair Havens, Crete, c. 59 AD; as, Paul tried to warn the ship’s council that they were contemplating a dangerous voyage in hopes of a 40 mile dash down the cost to a “better” port to winter in. But money and bought- and- paid- for technicos talked, and the majority ignored Paul’s inconvenient warning: “Never mind that Jew in chains, the egg-spurts have spoken, we can do it!” Of course, disaster duly struck. Having foolishly sailed out, they were hit hard by an early winter storm. To the point where – thirteen days later – hope was to be shipwrecked on a strange island!])

The ship’s council at Fair Havens brings up the other side of rev. Nicholson’s illustration: gates.

For, in the ancient world, the business of business, of courts and of government was often carried out in the gates of walled cities – and as Mordecai detected, even conspiracies. (Babylon’s famous Ishtar gate is of course an extreme example of such a gate.)

That refocuses our challenge: how can we “possess the gates” of the city and its citadels, allowing us to promote long-needed, positively transformational change?

palace

Obviously, we must first of all “map” the city and its citadels, so we understand what we are dealing with. (If we don’t know your way around the battlefield, and if we don’t know who is friend or foe, we will get lost and will unwisely turn our backs to those only too willing to slip in a knife.)

The seven mountains picture helps us to map out the commanding heights of a community, and we can then identify the citadels, who controls them, and what their agendas are. And, of course, their gates. That helps us see how in the Caribbean, typically the church is distracted, weak and divided, and most families are very dysfunctional or simply are broken.  That automatically means that we tend to lack needed spiritual strength and typically have little ethical backbone. 

We will be poor at discernment of the times and the spirits animating those who come tickling our itching ears with what they figure we want to hear.

Education, too, is mostly weak — especially, the sound ethics, straight thinking, history and civics that would help us to better understand and evaluate.   This sets us up for manipulation through corrupt media and mis-government. It also means we will lack the ability to understand or be able to function effectively in business, finance and sci-tech. 

As a capital example, we often imagine that if we only had enough money, everything would be smooth sailing.

Mistake.

For, throwing money by the millions into a situation where folly tends to prevail will only pour gasoline on a fire that threatens to blaze up out of control. It will draw forth more and more greed, envy and viciously selfish ambition, corruption, value-eating inflation and worse. There will be destructive, but clever- sounding schemes that only lead to ruin. 

Money is not magic, whether at personal level, or in a business or in a community.

Instead, we need God-blessed transformation towards a balanced approach. One, that starts with sound, well educated, frugal- minded and skillful people, who properly husband natural resources, and who can soundly govern themselves. In that context, investment opportunities will be wisely managed to lead to inclusive, self-sustaining growth and safe prosperity.  (If you imagine this is a silly fairly tale, I simply point to Singapore and how it moved from being a struggling third world micro-state to being a first world power to be reckoned with – in one generation. Never mind its many faults, Singapore is a lesson that we desperately need to heed.)

So, let us ponder our potential as a nation here in Montserrat, and let us also reflect together as a region. Then, let us begin to work out ways to turn such a vision into reality. For, the time to act – and, to act soundly – is now.  END

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

What about the T-factor: Transformation?

BRADES, Montserrat, Nov. 5,  2016 – For over twenty years since the volcano disaster struck, Montserrat has been stuck in a long-term economic and social malaise. Government after government seems to struggle to forge a way forward, against stiff resistance. A long list of needed breakthrough projects cannot seem to get off the ground. Leadership too often seems to be in disarray – and is sometimes at daggers drawn.  Scandal after scandal has left a taint of corruption and mistrust. 

commandingSomething different, something transformational, is needed; if we are to find a way forward.

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That is why I find myself haunted by the seven mountains/ gateways of influence imagery that the Rev. Dr Nicholson repeatedly highlighted in his sermons here, last April. There is something in that, something deeply insightful. And, I believe, something that can give us strategic vision for a breakthrough. Not just here in Montserrat, but also across our region and far beyond.

(After all, historically, Montserrat has often been a place of beginnings. So, why not now, why not here, and why not us on our watch today?)

As I look at the seven mountains diagram, a half-forgotten bit of history comes to mind: citadels, forts within cities of the ancient world that were often built on convenient commanding heights, as centres of refuge – and, sometimes, as power bases for oppressors. For example, the Acropolis in Athens was a citadel. Acro-Corinth was famously strong. And as recently as the battle of Hue in Vietnam, a citadel proved a tough, costly nut to crack. Also, at the time of the Maccabean uprising against Antiochus Epiphanes – from 168 BC on, the Jews captured Jerusalem, but Greek soldiers remained in the Acra for years, seriously weakening the Maccabees’ hold on power.

(That sounds all too familiar to many situations in the Caribbean and elsewhere; where, entrenched power elites can and do unduly hinder, frustrate or even cripple change agents voted into electoral office by the people. Business As Usual [BAU] for a community is so for a reason: that’s where the power brokers want to go. And, power- wielders can be quite stubborn, even if they are on an obvious march of folly to ruin. [That is what Acts 27 shows us, as it lets us see what happened in Fair Havens, Crete, c. 59 AD; as, Paul tried to warn the ship’s council that they were contemplating a dangerous voyage in hopes of a 40 mile dash down the cost to a “better” port to winter in. But money and bought- and- paid- for technicos talked, and the majority ignored Paul’s inconvenient warning: “Never mind that Jew in chains, the egg-spurts have spoken, we can do it!” Of course, disaster duly struck. Having foolishly sailed out, they were hit hard by an early winter storm. To the point where – thirteen days later – hope was to be shipwrecked on a strange island!])

The ship’s council at Fair Havens brings up the other side of rev. Nicholson’s illustration: gates.

For, in the ancient world, the business of business, of courts and of government was often carried out in the gates of walled cities – and as Mordecai detected, even conspiracies. (Babylon’s famous Ishtar gate is of course an extreme example of such a gate.)

That refocuses our challenge: how can we “possess the gates” of the city and its citadels, allowing us to promote long-needed, positively transformational change?

palace

Obviously, we must first of all “map” the city and its citadels, so we understand what we are dealing with. (If we don’t know your way around the battlefield, and if we don’t know who is friend or foe, we will get lost and will unwisely turn our backs to those only too willing to slip in a knife.)

The seven mountains picture helps us to map out the commanding heights of a community, and we can then identify the citadels, who controls them, and what their agendas are. And, of course, their gates. That helps us see how in the Caribbean, typically the church is distracted, weak and divided, and most families are very dysfunctional or simply are broken.  That automatically means that we tend to lack needed spiritual strength and typically have little ethical backbone. 

We will be poor at discernment of the times and the spirits animating those who come tickling our itching ears with what they figure we want to hear.

Education, too, is mostly weak — especially, the sound ethics, straight thinking, history and civics that would help us to better understand and evaluate.   This sets us up for manipulation through corrupt media and mis-government. It also means we will lack the ability to understand or be able to function effectively in business, finance and sci-tech. 

As a capital example, we often imagine that if we only had enough money, everything would be smooth sailing.

Mistake.

For, throwing money by the millions into a situation where folly tends to prevail will only pour gasoline on a fire that threatens to blaze up out of control. It will draw forth more and more greed, envy and viciously selfish ambition, corruption, value-eating inflation and worse. There will be destructive, but clever- sounding schemes that only lead to ruin. 

Money is not magic, whether at personal level, or in a business or in a community.

Instead, we need God-blessed transformation towards a balanced approach. One, that starts with sound, well educated, frugal- minded and skillful people, who properly husband natural resources, and who can soundly govern themselves. In that context, investment opportunities will be wisely managed to lead to inclusive, self-sustaining growth and safe prosperity.  (If you imagine this is a silly fairly tale, I simply point to Singapore and how it moved from being a struggling third world micro-state to being a first world power to be reckoned with – in one generation. Never mind its many faults, Singapore is a lesson that we desperately need to heed.)

So, let us ponder our potential as a nation here in Montserrat, and let us also reflect together as a region. Then, let us begin to work out ways to turn such a vision into reality. For, the time to act – and, to act soundly – is now.  END