Here’s to a clean slate

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The year 2019 is behind us and we’ve crossed the threshold into a new year. Last year was one filled with its fair share of joys and sorrows, and hard words and deadly arrows, many of which we wish we could retract. Sadly, they will come not back. Nonetheless, we’ve been provided with new opportunities to, as it were, make a fresh start and do right by our fellowmen. The Almighty, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to spare our lives, and every day of 2020 is a chance for us to make good. Let’s think of 2020 as an epiphany of sorts, a rebirth, a renewal.

As some may know, the month of January is named for Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology. He was said to have two heads, one looking back at the past, and the other with an eye on the future. We here at NEWSCO suggest that this month, and this year, should be be seen as one for a clean slate – a fresh start in our political discourse and in the collective will and effort of the government and people of our fair State.

We believe that a good point of departure from the ‘same-old same-old’ narrative of times past would be a determination to dial down the rhetoric. Let us eschew the finger-pointing and name-calling. The inflammatory adjectives that we have sometimes employed, often cut to the quick, and they are most certainly not helpful. You see, when all is said and done, we are still of the same tribe – the same kith and kin. Would to God that we strive to be a kinder and gentler people in this new year. As Shylock so eloquently puts it in Shakespeare’s MERCHANT OF VENICE (Act 3 Scene 1), when speaking to our common humanity (and we might add nationality): Hath not an[Antiguan andBarbudan] eyes? Hath not an [Antiguan and Barbudan] hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as [those who hurl mean-spirited barbs]? Indeed, we are one. And 2020 should be the year in which we acknowledge that truth, and speak softly.

It also behooves us to throttle the bitterness and hatred emanating from the partisanship that has gripped this blessed land of ours. It cannot be that everyone on one side of the aisle is Beelzebub – the devil incarnate, and everyone on the other side is Cherubim and Seraphim – angels of the heavenly hosts. Let us see the good in each other, notwithstanding our philosophical and political differences. Let us see the worth in initiatives that can lift all Antiguans and Barbudans from the ills that beset us. The notion that we ought to oppose simply for opposing sake is, quite frankly, downright silly. In that spirit, let us reach our hands across the divide and do our bit to break the cycle of mendicancy and dependence. In the words of our national anthem, let us “Gird our loins and join the battle ‘gainst fear, hate and poverty.”

Rise up, ye men and women of goodwill! We can write a new story on this clean sheet by setting-aside selfish strivings, vanities and egomania. We can build an Antigua and Barbuda of peace, progress and prosperity for all. Not a select few. It was no-less-a-thinker than Ambassador Haile Bruce Goodwin, who, in a critically acclaimed appearance on Observer radio’s OBSERVER AM this past Tuesday, suggested that notwithstanding the hifalutin and much-vaunted happy-talk about robust economic growth, the masses of the people, are not feeling it. You certainly wouldn’t get any argument with the good Ambassador from John and Jane Public on his assertion.

Mind you, the failure of the economic ‘trickle-down’ is not the only source of our melancholy humour, but we will not rehash them, because we already all-too-familiar with them. We live them every day. And we wish to begin the new year on a positive note . . . perhaps invoking that hope that springs eternal in our breasts. And not just hope, because hope without works is vain; it availeth nothing! Suffice it to say, we’re ready to get to work. As Brad Paisley, a noted American musician once declared, “Today is the [second] page of a 365-page book. [Let us] write a good one!”We’re down with that! Pass the slate-pencil and the slate!

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