Sunday, 01 January 2012 02:30
By Dr. Isaac Newton
2011 wasn’t just another year. Powerful politicians went to jail, joblessness hardened into recession, and many of our assumptions about the status quo froze to death.
Some of us were inclined to laugh, but found dark sorrow everywhere our teardrops fell.
2011 was a powerful reproach for some of the world’s most ruthless dictators. From whispers to daylight, the worthy causes of global protesters prevailed.
Where once emerging economies were looked upon with suspicion, European and American dominance of financial markets dwindled. Bad things happened to good companies, due to poor practices by executives, unwise decisions by board members, and self-serving ties between public officials and wealthy elites.
We didn’t place into perspective the chaotic gyrations of the global village. Neither did we rely on regional values to reinforce our identity, nor re-position ourselves. It was our reluctance to embrace local intelligence that moved CARICOM from bleak orchards to ruin gardens.
We like crony circles. We dislike public-serving ideals.
Reflect! The Caribbean Court of Justice could not expand its acceptance radius. In the politics in which our success rate is formed, economic unification eavesdropped on national elections and discovered that they were parodies of changing cooks, or keeping old menus.
Our leaders appeared less able to provide hands-on social and financial answers. Non-communicable diseases escalated. Natural disasters were not as brutal.
Observe! Violent crimes shook the foundations of our streets and homes. With tearful eyes, we watched peace sink into the sea. At the regional and sub-regional levels, speech-eloquence flourished.
While travelling between islands inspired hostile hospitality, labour unions pushed governments and corporations to bargaining turbulence. Our colleges and universities granted degrees. They did not generate work-related research or expand quality of life opportunities for Caribbeaners.
If you think you understand the Caribbean mindscape, you don’t understand island people. We congratulated ourselves for sitting on big committees in high places.
Good! But we delivered nothing to better the region. Pay attention! Our desire for national growth did not get along with our capacity to overcome micro-thinking.
Instead, we thundered mighty promises, only to drift further apart.
At the end of 2011, we were still satisfied with square mileage fantasies - a phenomenon caught in the vagueness of sovereign versus colonial politics.
To escape circles and climb ladders, an underlying question persistently arises: What is the quality assurance test to ensure that the Caribbean goes beyond Twitter talk about regional development?
An action-packed vision of self-sufficiency that starts with an appetite for 75 percent food independence should be the Caribbean’s chief activity. Nothing should prevent us from creating cost-containing technologies to reduce our dependency on refined, imported foods.
To climb ladders is to hear vast discoveries screaming for our attention.
Missing is a deep, deductive passion for experimental investigation of our immediate surroundings. There is too much sun, wind, water, and sand in our midst not to devise penny cheap transportation and build strong infrastructure. Taking advantage of our advantages will make us cut the edge.
Rather than hurricanes being a source of terror, perhaps our scientific adventures could turn them into a platform of renewable energy. Ever wonder if there is hidden energy to be harnessed from this yearly ritual of howling winds? If not, what else could we extract from stormy rains?
Suppose we constantly challenge our intuitions. We could find healing elements in banana roots and coconut bark. We could grind them with lime juice and sea shells.
Upsetting concoction? But perhaps we might uncover combined intelligence that may cure prostrate and breast cancers, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Are we curious enough to find out? If our genius is freed from photocopying anxieties, it will bring extraordinary success. But if it’s stifled, it will suffer from self-doubt and baptize everything foreign.
CARICOM could generate a blueprint for thinking globally, with all sorts of local connections and sub-regional tradeoffs. We must take a pragmatic approach to economic growth, and a co-ordinated view of regional diplomacy. But we’ll have to set higher leadership criteria. Empathy and responsibility, mixed with competence and justice, are necessary traits. Passion, courage, and commitment to regionalism are needed too.
Our growth opportunities require new networks of interdependent alliances to increase gains in investments and stability. We could melt the right economic and social resources to collaborate with Brazil, Russia, India, and China. We could further bolster important partnerships with Asia, and gel our interests with US policies for our betterment.
To do this, we-the-people must provide our leaders with advisory and implementation support in areas of urgent need. We must customize solutions with local cultures and global standards, while rewarding and punishing leadership behaviour based primarily on moral principle and operational performance.
I agree with Paul Romer's concept of “nonrival goods”. It highlights the power of information and ideas to expand our material world. He observed that: “…every generation has underestimated the potential for finding new recipes and ideas. We consistently fail to grasp how many ideas remain to be discovered. The difficulty is the same one we have with compounding. Possibilities do not add up. They multiply.”
Pressed for application, our prosperity will multiply at the edge of innovation. I urge us to see lights. Let’s hide the wrinkled wisdom of those adorned with old age deep inside our children. It is then that the powerhouses of today—our young people - will be mentored into greatness. Release them to the wonders of possibilities.
2012 will operate in whole. If you sow magnificence, you’ll reap amazement. Upon a contagious Caribbean dream with focus is imprinted the seal of joyful accomplishments. Perhaps CARICOM could reproduce men and women of honour, resplendent with durable characters and spiritual values. This is the essence of regional development.
Drink deep of this truth, and live it!
Dr Isaac Newton is an International Leadership and Change Management Consultant and Political Adviser. He specializes in Government and Business Relations, and Sustainable Development Projects. Dr Newton works extensively, in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and is a graduate of Oakwood College, Harvard, Princeton and Columbia. He has published several books on personal development and written many articles on economics, education, leadership, political, social, and faith based issues.