In my spirit I am hearing voices. One says, “Born free; as free as the wind blows… .” Another says, “And before I’d be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave… .” Yet another says, “Moving forward on a backward moving escalator.”
These are voices from the past which have been resuscitated by the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry initiated by the former governor, Gus Jaspert.
The voices which I hear are part of my total being and they cannot be separated from the person I am. I am part of a generation born around the end of World War II, when the desire for peace suffused the whole world, and the world was ready to recognise the human rights of people and nations. Because people are the product of their experiences, my generation of Virgin Islanders have an extraordinary appreciation of freedom.
For me, personally, I was born into a community that knew freedom long before the Emancipation Proclamation of 1834. My maternal grandfather descended from slaves who inherited the Nottingham Estate, along with their freedom which was bequeathed by their owners, Samuel and Mary Nottingham. As owners of land, they passed on an appreciation of freedom which was foreign to many of the descendants of former slaves elsewhere. They wanted to chart their own destiny.
Subsequent to emancipation and the lean years that followed, “government” was hardly a prominent feature in the life of Virgin Islanders. By dint of their own efforts and strong religious faith, they survived. But when “government” intervened and negatively impacted their efforts to survive, they burned down the whole place.
In the 21st Century, we do not have to resort to such measures. God has given us the ability to reason together in a way that allows each person to maintain personal dignity and the right to be who God made us to be. That would allow us to live in peace, in communities, in nations, and in the world. Instead, there is war and moral turpitude everywhere. Even in royal places. Who is in the position to call out anybody else? Who has the moral authority? The world is moving backward at a terrific speed, and nobody is in a position to control it. Why?
My suspicion is that cosmic forces are engaged, and human beings are being used as pawns. How else can I explain to myself that the United Kingdom is sending support to Ukraine so that they can maintain their freedom, yet they are trying to deprive us in the Virgin Islands of ours, with this suggestion of direct rule by the UK.
If the UK is trying to help us, which I question, I can accept the kind of intervention which they could have made years ago if they really cared about us as a people. But I would never accept direct rule. I was born free, and before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave.