This has been a year of crisis: soaring oil costs, soaring food costs and now a financial shakeout that may yet fundamentally alter how money flows and credit works around the globe. Many other stories, on both the local and world stage, have captured a lot of attention: the Russian-Georgian War, escalating crime, the Federation’s 25th Anniversary of Independence, hurricane-triggered disasters in the Caribbean and the U.S. presidential race are just a few of them. Each person can draw whatever lessons they want from all of this. However, for those of us who live here in the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis, here are some ideas to ponder: – No matter which party is in power, the Federation needs to move as far as possible towards self-reliance in the most fundamental areas, including agriculture, energy and health care. The secretary-general of the United Nations recently said that the words of the big nations have not been matched by actions in helping small nations hit by natural disasters and food shortages. There’s no reason to think things are going to improve in that respect. Greater efforts need to be made to produce, process and market domestic foods for domestic consumption. Every bit of imported food makes this country weaker. The outlook for energy is promising, if geothermal electricity can realize its full potential. The Nevis Island Administration has said nothing about the status of the agreement it is working on with West Indies Power, Ltd., but in the interests of domestic tranquility, officials need to make a deal that while fairly compensating the developer carefully guards the interests of the public. Anything less will make the effort appear dishonest. Health care is a long, slow climb. Attracting medical professionals can be costly. What’s needed is a major program that aims at preventative medicine. Problems like heart disease, diabetes and obesity are on the rise in the Federation. Now is the time to make a balanced diet, exercise and regular medical checkups a part of life instead of waiting for circumstances to further deteriorate. – Now is the time for the Federation to pick up the banner of environmental protection, or “go green,” as it is said today. On Nevis, a program has been announced to clear away junk vehicles. There are also plans being discussed to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags. These are good steps, but much more is needed to increase recycling, reduce waste and to protect the land and the sea from man-made harm. Like human health care, when it comes to protecting the environment, prevention is a much better option than a cure. – As issues become more serious, as the stakes in everything get higher, it is more important than ever to embrace civility and good manners in everyday life. Some people can find the strength to do this by going to church while others may find it by walking on the beach. Whatever it takes to reach that inner peace, do it, because cool heads and kind words will make the Federation’s journey into the future a far more pleasant one.
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