I have been thinking about and trying to define the St. Lucian dream for some time now. Truth be told the thoughts really started to crystalize with the 2012 Olympics and perhaps for the first time really seeing beyond the young people and their struggle for gold, success, recognition, that elusive thing that is the difference between standing out and just being. So now whenever I meet a young person who I think has half a brain, I engage them in the conversation that will continue to occupy my mind for a long time.
I ask them – Do you know what the St. Lucian dream is? How do you define the St. Lucian dream? Then I ask them – do you know what the American dream is? Can you define that dream? Ultimately they can all speak to the American dream. It seems to me that It is a collective that is as old as time. It is rooted in the ultimate success story. Whether it is individual success; company success; academic success; economic success; sportsmanship success; As long as there is a system of merit and reward, they understand the dream. It is this dream that defines an American. It motivates them to want to strive to be the best they can be, purely from an Americn context while the rest of the world defines itself on its own terms. Every American knows.
As the conversation deepens, we get greater insights. We do not know what the St. Lucian dream is. From another conversation, I get the feeling that perhaps It is different for men and women. While men aspire for expensive cars and more than one woman, some women strive for an education. Others want the perfect man and ofcourse the family. Still from another conversation, I get that perhaps this dream is just about basic survival for many of us. So already there is division. We do not have the collective vision. But I wonder if it exists at the Caribbean level. I fear to ask the question – is there a Caribbbean dream that defines us? I do not know the answer.
So I try to break down all of these conversations. Perhaps it is the comfort levels that identify us more than anything else right now. We are born into a family; we go to school; some of us get a job; we do not need to find the passion about anything in our lives; we define the world from our small vision of being St. Lucia; all we need is to find the very basic comfort levels to sustain us on a daily basis and we stay there. This is how we pass the exams; not because we have worked our fingers to the bone, but just because we know how to get by and pass. We have made mediocre the dream. If we can just hang in there, we’re all right.
We do not need to push ourselves to achieve more because in our modern context, we have electricity at the flick of a button. The country is advanced because our students do not study by candle light. We have running water. We no longer need to go to the stand pipes or wash in rivers. We do not even define the country as third world anymore. We are a developing nation now. We do not need to find that thing that is deep within us that really defines us and makes us stand out because that would be too much work. We have life and we breathe so that is just about sufficient effort.
This is the new direction in which our nation building has to go. As family units, as schools, as churches, as work stations, as leaders and politicians, we need to identify the St. Lucian dream. What is there that is truly worth all of our combined energies. It has to be more than just combating crime; or drugs; or the random killings; there must be that one catalyst that brings us together to recognise that we are worthy of preserving. We have a potential far greater than mere survival. How do we create that consciousness that opens the eyes so that we see that this is not a task that we should let someone else work out? How do we make our children understand that we are all up to the challenge? At this stage in our development we can’t just sit and look on; we have got to do more than is expected. At least we must start talking about this dream otherwise I fear what will happen when we wake up.