A certain politician loves pontificating on the beauty of these Virgin Islands. Most aliens arriving on these shores swiftly appreciate the safety, beauty and wholesomeness of life here. These islands are truly a garden where life should be glorious and wholesome.

A drive around at night reveals a majestic little place with homes lit up sitting high on divinely sculpted hills and hilltops, while the sounds of gushing waves offer serenity, melody and peace.

Once upon a time — before the adoption of a new culture of prosperity driven by tourism and finance — residents who lived off the land had a far greater opportunity to appreciate nature’s providence.

Virgin Islanders sat on their verandahs in their simple clapboard homes and gossiped under a wonderful full moon. Women toiled in the outdoor kitchen and cooked up delicious dishes for men who exhausted themselves daily under the hot sun, fishing, planting food for the community, digging at the basic road infrastructure that allowed the wary donkey to travel from village to village, building, harvesting provisions, producing sugar and rum, rearing livestock, clearing bush for farming, and more.

A simpler time that was agrarian and religious must have been a great deal more secure than today, in that it offered greater certainty of outcome.

Residents lived by their own strict moral and social codes. The church and prayer meeting were at the centre of rural life. The first schools derived from this religious culture, driven by various denominations: Methodists, Anglicans, Seventh-day Adventists, Roman Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses.


‘That has changed’

Today all that has changed. Toxic fumes threaten the health of natives on the west of Tortola. Traffic is a hazard. Fast boats are a menace.

A materially driven society has become fragmented and isolated. Neighbourliness is practically nonexistent. The rise in violent crime in certain sectors of the community reflects the blind pursuit of material wealth notwithstanding how obtained. Dishonesty and deception ingrained in the culture have led to white-collar crime and corruption, and in very recent times a Commission of Inquiry exposed governance failings and brought the threat of a period of direct rule by the United Kingdom. The preceding is a disaster and would herald a return to a time the UK ruled these islands directly.

No one can honestly state that the present day is better than a yesteryear when the word “community” meant true neighbourliness, close-knit families, and the village looking out.

Hearts and minds make a country — not the economy and material prosperity. For the VI to return to some peace, tranquility and sanity, people will have to understand how far we have fallen from where we once were.

Young men especially will have to understand their reckless behaviours are in no one’s best interest, least of all their own. They simply end up on the scrap heap of society, in prison, or in the grave as they proceed on a downward path to destruction.


Way forward

The solution to overcoming the present predicament begins and ends in adopting honesty and kindness as a way of life, and not aping alien cultures where the pursuit of money is the beginning and ending of everything.

This writer has observed aliens who are under the mistaken belief that the woes of the native population are none of their business. In that, they are hugely mistaken. The day this territory erupts, in whatever way it does, all will suffer. The world is a cycle, and until we die we are all part of its motion.