We are not here to ‘preachify,’ but that passage of scripture from Galatians 3:28 resonates with us here at Observer media because it speaks to our oneness, our common humanity. All this nonsense about Caucasian and Negroid and Indian and Asians is all foolishness and vanity as far as we are concerned. Seems, in the grand scheme of things, the little insignificant peculiarities that wouldst fain divide us, pale in comparison to the multitude of things that unite us. Those superficial and artificial distinctions like Tortolian or Trinidadian or Anguillan or Antiguan or Barbudan or Barbadian or Dominican or Santo Dominican mean nothing in the final analysis. For as that heretofore verse of scripture so rightly concludes, “ . . . We are all one . . !”
Of course, one of our favourite writers, Sir William Shakespeare, tackles the question of our oneness and sameness in one of the great speeches of all time from THE MERCHANT OF VENICE. In that classic, Shylock, the Jew, fervently declares in defence of his membership in the human race, “. . .Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew 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 a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? . . .” Hmmm! Seems, the bard himself is making the case quite passionately for our common humanity. As Rod Serling would somberly intone on the TWILIGHT ZONE, “People are the same all over!”
Which beg the obvious questions. Why are we so inclined to focus on the inconsequential things that divide us? And why are we so concerned about white and black and red and blue when our needs, wants, hopes, fears, aspirations and dreams are really all the same? Especially, here in the Caribbean? The great Black Stalin was on point, when he so beautifully articulated in CARIBBEAN MAN, “Dey try wit a federation / De ole union in confusion / Caricom and den Carifta / But somehow ah smellin disaster / Mr West Indian Politician/ / Ah mean yuh went to big institution / And how come you can’t unite seven million / When a West Indian unity / Is really very easy / If you only rap to yuh people like me / (Chorus) We is one race, de Caribbean man / From de same place, de Caribbean man / Dat make de same trip, de Caribbean man / On de same ship, de Caribbean man /So we must push one common intention / For we woman and we children / That must be de ambition of de Caribbean man, de Caribbean man, de Caribbean man!” It is a truism!
Which brings us to the here and now. Our ‘oneness’ and ‘sameness’ are never more brought into stark relief than at this time of such utter devastation and destruction in the Caribbean. From Dominica to Barbuda to St. Maarten to St. Lucia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Guadeloupe, there is dispossession, dislocation and despair at the unforgiving hands of Irma and Maria. In such carnage, borders no longer mean anything, neither should the few miles of water and the miniscule amount of time that it takes to hop from one capital to another. In fact, as we open our hearts, hands and homes to our stricken brothers and sisters, we will quickly realise that we are strikingly similar.
For example, just look at the foods that we eat. It’s all the same. Whether we call our gastronomical delicacies ‘platano’ or ‘plaintain, ’whether we refer to that great finger-food as ‘fried dumplings’ as opposed to ‘Johnny cakes’ or ‘bakes,’ it matters not. It’s the same. Whether we call that delightful confection wrapped in grape or banana leaves as ‘dookoona’ or ‘conkie’ is of no import. Neither is it important whether we call that delicious dish ‘seasoned rice’ or ‘cook-up rice,’ or whether we call that crushed green banana delicacy ‘foo-foo’ or ‘mongu,’ or whether we refer to that great tickler of the palate as ‘sancouche’ or ‘stewed salt fish.’ It is all immaterial! In fact, what becomes quite clear is that our tastes, practices, traditions and norms, fears and dreams are all the same.
Having said that, it is quite heartening to see how we Caribbean men and women are coming together to help each other. As well it should! And if we appear to be belabouring the point of unity and oneness, it is because in the aftermath of Irma and Maria, it is the need of the hour! Indeed, it is existential! We submit that the notion of Caribbean unity is not a bridge too far!
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