Editorial: The same as it was back then

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Mahatma Ghandi is quoted as saying, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” We reflected on those words when we saw the most recent pictures of the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital. The dilapidated conditions, the filth, the less than desirable toilet facilities, the sewage water, and the list goes on. It was made even worse when we heard the accompanying stories.
Not too long ago, we wrote a piece on this exact topic. It was in July 2016; so not as long as two years ago. At that time, we also reflected on Gandhi’s words. We tried to appeal to all in society that it is incumbent upon us to safeguard those who need protection most. Back then, we commented: “One look at the few pictures that accompanied the article that described, what the workers call, the ‘deplorable and unsanitary’ working conditions, should bring shame to us all.
Not blue, not red … everyone. Further, to hear the workers recount the conditions under which they work and the challenges which they and the patients face, only compound the embarrassment that we should all share.” What has changed? Apparently nothing. We always hold out naive optimism that we will change our ways and become a more caring society, and we always seem to have our bubble burst.
We were promised that the situation would be addressed, but we have been let down, once again. As we pointed out previously, the people housed in this facility are human beings. They are part of someone’s family, and they are part of our family of Antiguans and Barbudans. They deserve some basic respect and to be treated with dignity. Back then, we commented: “It is heart-wrenching to hear that our lone psychiatric hospital suffers from lack of the most basic things such as running water to flush toilets and wash hands, and clean drinking water for the patients and staff. These things are, as the Antigua Public Utilities Authority’s (APUA) tagline boasts, ‘necessary … for life.’
So how do we reach the 21st century and still have these conditions existing?” What causes us to turn a blind eye to the most vulnerable in society? Why does the government continue to make empty promises to the staff and patients of Clarevue? How can we as a society, celebrate as “One Nation,” at an expensive-to put-on, free concert when, not too far away, our brothers and sisters suffer in squalour? How? We can never become an economic powerhouse if we cannot address the simple issues at our lone mental health facility. Are we bashing the current government over this?
Yes! Are we bashing the previous administration over this? Yes! Everyone shares the blame, but this administration has the power to fix it, and they have made the promise to fix it before. How can situations as severe as this simply slip? Back then, we commented: “The last time we addressed the topic of becoming our brothers’ keeper, we referenced the words of Hubert H. Humphrey Jr., the 38th vice-president of the United States, who observed that “…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
And so we repeat, “If Clarevue is our moral test, then we have failed miserably.” That “we” is all of us. If the government is unwilling to fix the issues, then we should let them know our displeasure. If the promises are empty, then the box next to their name on the ballot should also be empty. The onus is upon all of us to care, to show some compassion to one another; especially those that need that care and compassion most. This time, we will end the same way we did the last time.
Back then, we commented: “So to the government and the people who enjoy the good life in this bit of paradise we call home, let us be a great nation and show care and compassion for the weakest among us because one day, we may be the ones reaching out for a helping hand. “Let us make sure that we are able to pass the moral test when the time comes.”

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