Virgil Sams: ‘Make Ammends and Build Bridges’

Virgil Sams

Dear Editor,

Once again I dedicate a little of my busy schedule to share my analysis on some disruptive changes I perceive taking place on Statia.

Let me first of all congratulate the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) under the leadership of Ms. Recheline Leerdam for its victory in the recent held Island Council election. Congratulations to all five Island Council Member who were sworn in on Thursday October 29, 2020.  I wish them wisdom and good judgment in their deliberations and decision making for the good of the island.

My reflection brought to the fore the question: How should Statians regard the aftermath of their votes where democracy and being under higher supervision intersect? I listened and shared deeply with a wide cross section of the Statia minds. The high level feedback I received was most refreshing and challenging. 

The online and social media groups are keenly looking forward to assessing the re-elected PLP’s performance to determine its value-rich contributions. However, one would know that customarily we give newly elected leaders a “probationary period”, be it the first 100 days, where they “prove” themselves by demonstrating their efforts for change and improvement. I propose that the same courtesy be offered to the PLP as they have declared as their aim is for the advancement and development of Statia.

Like many, I too have my share of concerns, however, I think this is a welcome and timely transition. I am willing to give them their first 100 days in office a fair chance, considering the complexities that caused the delay for allowing elections. Let us see what metal they are made of. It’s only after this period, I believe, can an intelligent first impression be formed.

The decision on the part of Mr. Koos Sneek to declare himself independent sparked several dialogues of varied ideas. Some ethically nuanced. Others provoked upright outage and moral rage. Still others identified the decision as being justifiable verses divisiveness. The rest revealed how good intentions are not automatically severed from serious social consequences. Taken together, all my conversations so far displayed intellectual honesty and at the same time wrestling with the thought as to whether this was an ethical behavior. 

It would have been far better to address his ideas and his reasons for his decision instead of brutalizing his personality. I also thought it would have been helpful if Mr. Sneek had accepted an invitation to go on local radio for an interview with Mr. Glen Schmidt when he was asked. It would have helped to clear the many questions encircling his leadership brand brought about by his abrupt announcement to go independent from the Democratic Party, the party that he has embraced for many years.

We are aware that the stakes are unambiguously high. We can’t participate in public discourse without risking a mixture of corrective critique, clear condemnation and calm confirmation.  It is customary that every disruptive change in government comes with a barrage of criticism and undermining. Unfortunately, Statia is not immune to this. But for those of mature minds we look beyond these dilemmas to find positive solutions. We engage in discussion on strategies to effective change.

I would like to encourage our Island Council to engage in conversation on reconciliation, unity, love, and a listening ear to acknowledge blind spots. I recommend that they make amends and build bridges. Let us work to increase people’s appreciation of our leadership.

We hold our leaders accountable for the sacred task for which they are placed in office by the people. Be careful how you allow the poor to be oppressed and say to you “God don’t sleep.”

This is a rare opportunity for The PLP and Island Council to engage the community on how best to address challenges in times like these.  Be transparent with your plans. If our leaders are seen as missing in action then they are just enjoying a luxurious ride.

Let’s continue to be civil one to another, recognising that we’re all Statians, we are all on the same ship navigating through stormy weather. Let us continue to pray for Statia that God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven!

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