DON”T BEAT UP ON ME PRIME MINISTER A few days ago I tried to buy some fencing wire from Builders” Paradise. As I have always done when I am buying anything for Project Strong, I called the firm to ask for a good discount to stretch the money. I usually get good discounts for Project Strong because the firms understand what I am trying to do for the youths who belong to this initiative. They are as concerned as others who are ready to blame the youth but they are prepared to put their money where there mouths are and offer material help to the concept. Project Strong has built a big building from large donations from Jenkins Construction, Her Majesty’s Prison, TDC, Horsfords, Contec, Sugars and Omax Gardner. We also received smaller donations from various individuals who understand what we are doing and wanted to help. Euclin Richardson, Rawlinson Isaac, Willa Franks-Liburd, Calvin Beach and Friends of Canada, Eveton Powell of New York the Cliff Dwellers Club of Nevis and Dr. Le Richardson have given generously to enable us to buy steel, cement gravel and wire to complete our infrastructural project. The idea behind this construction activity is to upgrade the compound to make it acceptable to youth who did not do so well with the academic menu of the high schools and who we want to give another chance at the good life through an alternative educational program. The logic is that these boys and girls whom the education system have failed need their eyes placated by, at the very least, an upgraded premises with which they could identify. We shouldn’t give them even the slightest reason to think that all we are doing is a carry-over of their high school experience. We should at least be trying to get the message to them that we love and care for them to the extent that we would provide for them the very best that we can. Our theory is that once we get them to accept this message not by word but by deed, we will have covered half the ground towards their full rehabilitation and the recapture of their lost self-esteem. It is this shared philosophy that motivated the good friends of Project Strong into generous donations to our cause and it is this philosophy that guides me when I approach anyone to beg for a donation on behalf of Project Strong. I always beg with humble expectations, mindful that whoever I beg is being asked to make a sacrifice. I respect that sacrifice deeply. I therefore felt insulted when I approached Builders” Paradise and asked for a discount on two rolls of fencing wire. It wasn’t in my view a very large discoun t- only $40 per roll $80 in all. I have bought things from Builder’s Paradise before. One time the materials came to over $8,000. I had to plead for a discount which the manager failed to give because the goods were ordered on government credit. However the manager gave me some sheets of sheetrock and a pair of face basins in lieu of a discount on the purchase. I have always realized some reluctance on the manager’s part to bargain with me, but I always thought that was because business might not have been so good. So I was caught fully off guard by his response to my friendly greeting and my humble act of begging for a $40 discount on a roll of fencing wire for Project Strong. “No, No. No. You does beat up on me Prime Minister. I don’t like people beating up on me Prime Minister. No discount for you. You got to come with the right money. You can’t be beating up on me Prime Minister like that.”And he went on and on repeating himself. I was never more dumbfounded at such stupidity. Here was a businessman putting on political gloves to fight the battle against a customer for a political figure. It was so pathetically stupid that I could not find a decent way to tell him what a monstrous idiot he was. I asked Horsford for the discount on the two rolls of wire and got it. How could any businessman feel obliged to tell a customer he does not want his business because of the customer’s political preference or non-preference. Where is polite diplomacy? He could have told me that business was slow and he could not afford the $80.00 and I would not be any wiser about the venom which he had festering for me, for differing openly with the leader of his party. Although I realize that this gentleman is typical of many Kittitians, I have to ask my fellow Kittitians and Nevisians what hope there is for our country when such people can be found in high and strategic places. As I related this ignoramity to a friend, I remembered some years ago that I asked Mr. Warrington Grant for a donation for a crate of ungraded eggs for use at camp. Mr. Grant was forthright. He paid me a visit and informed me that he did not like some of things I wrote about the People’s Action Movement and therefore could not give me his eggs. The next day, Lascell Rawlins brought me two crates of eggs. What these episodes demonstrate is the still primitive stage of politics in this little country. We are still at the intimidatory stage where, although our lives are not threatened with deadly harm, our freedoms are. This is very sad because we have all of the trappings of democracy: elections, laws, lip serviced freedom of the press and speech. Within the law, we can associate freely and our human rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. However, we are constantly assaulted by the sinister forces of evil which use intimidatory tactics to subvert the democratic rights which belong to us under the Constitution. The bullying of our citizens extend to threatening their jobs if they prefer the other party, denying them the rights to life, liberty and happiness because they exercise their right to choose between political parties. Furthermore, in this extraordinary case to deny a government-aided institution a concession because one of its staff dare to use his God-given right to speak out against what he perceives as the Prime Ministers” incompetences. Thankfully, although these forces of reaction are strong, they are on the wane and our more youthful generation never fails to express their disgust at the attempted encroachment on their God-given freedoms.
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