Our Prime Minister (PM), the Honourable Gaston Browne, last Saturday poured scorn on a number of United Progressive Party (UPP) candidates because they are living in homes that they do not own. It was unfortunate. We will not regurgitate his pointless rant, because no useful purpose will be served. Except that it amplifies his rather narrow thinking. For one thing, he seems preoccupied with material possessions – the pursuit and accumulation of wealth. For him, that is apparently a priority, but perhaps for others, it is not. Many of his vast holdings are well known; he has parlayed his connections and time in high places into a rather tidy profit. Good for him!
So too, his very dear wife, the Honourable Maria Bird Browne. In an Antigua Newsroom story, our good PM proudly declared, “Even my wife, who is, what, not even thirty as yet, she’s going to be thirty in April, I mean she already has significant assets.”We applaud her as well. And we are not envious. We truly believe in the notion that those who are able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps; by dint of hard work and devotion to duty, are worthy of commendation. But the pursuit and acquisition of wealth is not all that there is to life. Nay. In fact, we would direct our readers to the Good News Translation of Luke 12:15: And he went on to say to them all, “Watch out and guard yourselves against every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be.” Hmmmm! Food for thought!
A goodly portion of the electorate is comprised of working class, blue collar workers – men and women who will never know the lap of luxury, but who go out everyday to give a honest day’s labour for an honest day’s pay. By the sweat of their brows, they are putting food on the table, scrunting to keep the lights on and pay the other bills. Theirs is a hard-scrabble life – that of the ninety-nine percenters. They have bright children who have graduated from our top Secondary Schools and gone on to tertiary education. They have smart children who are engaged in worthy enterprises outside of academia. These parents are poor, but they are contented. They are pouring all their earnings into making sure that their children have the very best opportunities to rise above the circumstances in which they were born.
And they do not genuflect at the altar of money, as do many in high places. Some of those on high have been feeding at the public trough for decades; they have compiled vast portfolios, and they have no intention of walking off into the sunset, into a life of retirement. No. Not while there is more moolah to be had. Seems, they will have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, from the moolah and the caviar and the soufflé. It’s just a pity that they cannot take any of it with them to the Great Beyond.
Of course, there is much more to life than the accumulation of wealth. We’re talking about justice and fairplay and kindness and goodness. We’re talking about doing right by the people. Are you a vindictive and spiteful bully? Are you one to turn the other cheek, and rise, statesmanlike, above childish and petty squabbling, or are you given to exacting your ‘pound of flesh,’ as per Shakespeare’s Shylock, for every slight, real or imagined? Do we, like Shylock declare, “If I can catch him but once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.” Sigh! Is our every waking moment consumed by thoughts of how we can get even, or how we can add another penny to our portfolios?
Remember folks: “A man’s true wealth is the good he does in the world.”. . . “True wealth is not of the pocket, but of the heart and the mind.” Hmmmm! Indeed, “The wealth of the soul is the only true wealth.” The UPP candidates have nothing to be ashamed of – they are imbued with that wealth of the soul! They are possessed of the wonderful things that money can’t buy!
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