A democracy is only as strong as the citizens who participate meaningfully in its affairs.
And that goes double for any democracy facing the sort of turmoil that has beset the Virgin Islands over the past year.
With that in mind, all eligible voters must head to the polls on Monday and exercise their right to cast a ballot.
But they should first do their homework and think very carefully about what their choices may mean for their children, grandchildren and future generations.
The territory, after all, is at a crucial juncture in its history. Following the arrest of the former premier last April and the release of the Commission of Inquiry report the next day, this community was rocked to its core as the United Kingdom threatened to partially suspend the Constitution and implement direct rule.
In the wake of this turmoil, the government chosen next week will have a packed agenda with no time to dawdle.
At the top of its priorities should be the well-considered reforms recommended by the COI, which must be carried out as soon as possible. Add to that an extensive list of other urgent needs as the community works to recover from a global pandemic that struck while the territory was still wrestling with the fallout from the 2017 hurricanes.
Related issues are legion: the dramatic underfunding of the delayed hurricane recovery after successive governments turned down a UK loan guarantee; a non-operational sewerage system on Tortola; open burning in Pockwood Pond that is endangering residents’ health; shoddy roads that will cost tens of millions to repair; existential climate change threats to nature and people alike; increasing pressure on the financial services industry from abroad; a non-sustainable National Health Insurance programme and public service pension scheme; a shifting world order outside of the territory’s control; and the list goes on.
During the campaigns in recent weeks, candidates have given voters plenty of food for thought. Some have focused on insults and mudslinging. But others have rightly put forward sound ideas for the way forward as the territory addresses critical issues like the ones listed above.
The slate of candidates is diverse in other ways as well. Some are seasoned leaders with decades of experience in elected office, while others are fresh faces who have excelled outside the political arena.
Voters, then, have their work cut out for them. When they go to the polls — and go to the polls they must — they should put aside any selfish motivations and give their X to the candidates they believe will be the best choice for the entire territory.
Future generations are depending on them to do the right thing.