The “noise” of freedom

Contribution, Part 110

Are we to be reduced to the clash of rumour, gossip, slander, and “official” talking points to make up our minds on Covid-19 and other public issues?

BRADES, Montserrat, March 9, 2021 –  Freedom is “noisy.” That was so in the 1930s–60s when Marse Bob Griffith, Ole Marse Willie Bramble, Mrs. Ellen Peters, and others stood up for an oppressed colonial people in a tiny corner of the British Empire. It remains so today in Montserrat as we try to understand and figure our way out of the COVID-19 crisis, the underlying Volcano “Chronic Malaise” and many other challenges we face as an Afro-Caribbean nation rooted in the wickedness of kidnapping, enslavement, rape, and the plantation system.

With such a heritage as a common lot of the Caribbean, it is unsurprising that the ordinary Mary or Joseph struggling to deal with a full year of Covid-19 emergency measures will question the voice of authorities.

At the same time, the very name Cudjoe Head tells us what used to happen to slaves uppity enough to think they had a right to be free in heart, mind, and body. Today, officials and others are not likely to literally mount our heads on a cotton tree as a warning to others, but they may well slander, financially lockout, and victimise those who dare to speak their minds. (Indeed, a fair number of businesspeople whisper about their fear that if they or their family members displease the lords and ladies of the political class or the civil service, they too will be victimised.)

Let us say it straight, from the outset: freedoms of conscience, expression, and the press are rights, not privileges granted or withdrawn at the whim of officialdom.

More recent painful history is also helpful. We can point back to the crisis stage of the lingering volcano malaise: it is clear that officials – and too often, Scientists here at the pleasure of the officials –  told only a quarter of the truth and that we were “a year behind the curve of the crisis.” People were therefore frustrated and angry, desperate. People died, horribly, needlessly. There has never been a serious reckoning with the findings of the forensic inquiry.

Maybe, we need to pause and look at the “curve of the crisis.”

Consider a “U” and an “L.” Both have a falling arm, but only one turns back up while the other has gone “flatline.” A crisis is like that: there is a rapid fall into trouble or distress, and we come to the pivot. That turning-point – the actual crisis-point –  is where either we get chronically locked into a disaster, or we begin to turn back up and recover. With the volcano, we clearly flatlined because of poor decisions, and we are struggling to turn back up again, over twenty-five years later. On top of that, bang, we are falling again due to Covid-19.

We cannot afford to flatline again!

That’s why politicians and their publicists who have spent years on melee and slander tactics to gain power must realise that if “Cretans are liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,” then they will have no credibility in a crisis as speakers of truth, sound decision-makers or fair dealers. [See, Titus 1:12, ESV.]  Likewise, the Apostle warns the corrupt that “. . . the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” [See, 1 Tim 6:10.] But, shouldn’t we add today the old-age scourge of sex and power…?

Daniel (actually, in 539 BC, an older man) interprets the writing on the wall: £2 /1s / 6d

Similarly, our electorate must realise that when we vote for political leaders or champion people for promotion based on anything but Daniel’s “understanding and wisdom . . . an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems” we are buying trouble or even disaster when the ghostly hand begins to write £2 /1s / 6d . . . what “mene, mene, tekel, uparsin” literally means. [See Dan 5:11 – 12, 22 – 28.] Yes, for, those we elect and those we promote to senior positions are those we choose to manage when crises inevitably arise.

As for scientists, experts, educators, public health policymakers, medical spokesmen, and others speaking with the voice of Big-S Science, they too must reckon with the same issues. Namely, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Yes, prudence, security, confidentiality, etc. count, but in the end, if you have built a reputation for want of truthfulness, your voice will fail in the face of crisis. (Never mind they merely just go along with their, Well superiors, masters or their poor consciences.)

So, if for twenty-five years we have persistently failed to have well-earned credibility and have too often failed in the face of crises and disasters, that is a sign. So, too, the “noise” some complain of, is a warning we should instead be paying close attention to. It is not merely the distress or demand of spoiled brats and ‘riff-raffs’ or those who “bang water come ya” crying out nonsense.

As for the bitter hostility, vicious gossip, and slander that target voices we don’t even want to hear (not even to say a polite “Good Morning,” in some cases), we might be well advised instead to ponder how “with the judgment, you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” [Matt 7:2.] Likewise, “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” [James 3:16 – 17.]

Then, we are counseled in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” [Matt 5:37.]

Where this is the actual context of the Golden Rule: “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people . . .  You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Lev 19:15 – 18.]

So, if we are at a crisis of confidence in official talking points during the Covid-19 crisis, it has not come out of anywhere, for no reason.  Therefore, while in general there is quite a good reason for the average adult to be vaccinated, it is wise for those with preconditions to take advice from their doctors, and we must have a balanced, well-informed discussion as a community. We must also refrain from shaming or pressuring people to be vaccinated.

Peace through truth in love, ‘till next time.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Contribution, Part 110

Are we to be reduced to the clash of rumour, gossip, slander, and “official” talking points to make up our minds on Covid-19 and other public issues?

BRADES, Montserrat, March 9, 2021 –  Freedom is “noisy.” That was so in the 1930s–60s when Marse Bob Griffith, Ole Marse Willie Bramble, Mrs. Ellen Peters, and others stood up for an oppressed colonial people in a tiny corner of the British Empire. It remains so today in Montserrat as we try to understand and figure our way out of the COVID-19 crisis, the underlying Volcano “Chronic Malaise” and many other challenges we face as an Afro-Caribbean nation rooted in the wickedness of kidnapping, enslavement, rape, and the plantation system.

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With such a heritage as a common lot of the Caribbean, it is unsurprising that the ordinary Mary or Joseph struggling to deal with a full year of Covid-19 emergency measures will question the voice of authorities.

At the same time, the very name Cudjoe Head tells us what used to happen to slaves uppity enough to think they had a right to be free in heart, mind, and body. Today, officials and others are not likely to literally mount our heads on a cotton tree as a warning to others, but they may well slander, financially lockout, and victimise those who dare to speak their minds. (Indeed, a fair number of businesspeople whisper about their fear that if they or their family members displease the lords and ladies of the political class or the civil service, they too will be victimised.)

Let us say it straight, from the outset: freedoms of conscience, expression, and the press are rights, not privileges granted or withdrawn at the whim of officialdom.

More recent painful history is also helpful. We can point back to the crisis stage of the lingering volcano malaise: it is clear that officials – and too often, Scientists here at the pleasure of the officials –  told only a quarter of the truth and that we were “a year behind the curve of the crisis.” People were therefore frustrated and angry, desperate. People died, horribly, needlessly. There has never been a serious reckoning with the findings of the forensic inquiry.

Maybe, we need to pause and look at the “curve of the crisis.”

Consider a “U” and an “L.” Both have a falling arm, but only one turns back up while the other has gone “flatline.” A crisis is like that: there is a rapid fall into trouble or distress, and we come to the pivot. That turning-point – the actual crisis-point –  is where either we get chronically locked into a disaster, or we begin to turn back up and recover. With the volcano, we clearly flatlined because of poor decisions, and we are struggling to turn back up again, over twenty-five years later. On top of that, bang, we are falling again due to Covid-19.

We cannot afford to flatline again!

That’s why politicians and their publicists who have spent years on melee and slander tactics to gain power must realise that if “Cretans are liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,” then they will have no credibility in a crisis as speakers of truth, sound decision-makers or fair dealers. [See, Titus 1:12, ESV.]  Likewise, the Apostle warns the corrupt that “. . . the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” [See, 1 Tim 6:10.] But, shouldn’t we add today the old-age scourge of sex and power…?

Daniel (actually, in 539 BC, an older man) interprets the writing on the wall: £2 /1s / 6d

Similarly, our electorate must realise that when we vote for political leaders or champion people for promotion based on anything but Daniel’s “understanding and wisdom . . . an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems” we are buying trouble or even disaster when the ghostly hand begins to write £2 /1s / 6d . . . what “mene, mene, tekel, uparsin” literally means. [See Dan 5:11 – 12, 22 – 28.] Yes, for, those we elect and those we promote to senior positions are those we choose to manage when crises inevitably arise.

As for scientists, experts, educators, public health policymakers, medical spokesmen, and others speaking with the voice of Big-S Science, they too must reckon with the same issues. Namely, “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Yes, prudence, security, confidentiality, etc. count, but in the end, if you have built a reputation for want of truthfulness, your voice will fail in the face of crisis. (Never mind they merely just go along with their, Well superiors, masters or their poor consciences.)

So, if for twenty-five years we have persistently failed to have well-earned credibility and have too often failed in the face of crises and disasters, that is a sign. So, too, the “noise” some complain of, is a warning we should instead be paying close attention to. It is not merely the distress or demand of spoiled brats and ‘riff-raffs’ or those who “bang water come ya” crying out nonsense.

As for the bitter hostility, vicious gossip, and slander that target voices we don’t even want to hear (not even to say a polite “Good Morning,” in some cases), we might be well advised instead to ponder how “with the judgment, you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” [Matt 7:2.] Likewise, “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” [James 3:16 – 17.]

Then, we are counseled in the Sermon on the Mount, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” [Matt 5:37.]

Where this is the actual context of the Golden Rule: “You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people . . .  You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Lev 19:15 – 18.]

So, if we are at a crisis of confidence in official talking points during the Covid-19 crisis, it has not come out of anywhere, for no reason.  Therefore, while in general there is quite a good reason for the average adult to be vaccinated, it is wise for those with preconditions to take advice from their doctors, and we must have a balanced, well-informed discussion as a community. We must also refrain from shaming or pressuring people to be vaccinated.

Peace through truth in love, ‘till next time.