Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Antigua’s Complicity

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.


I read with interest that a group of people are trying to block Antigua and Barbuda’s effort to get assistance from the IMF. As I understand it, they are charging that “The Pirate of the Caribbean” would not have been able to conduct the massive fraud that he is charged with if Antigua had not been “complicit” in the execution of his purportedly fraudulent activities.

In other words, Antigua’s ‘complicity’ allowed him to do what he did!

I agree!

Let me say it again. I unequivocally, unapologetically, unhesitatingly – agree that Antigua was complicit.

Not only was Antigua (not Barbuda) complicit, but most Antiguans were complicit.

Antiguans were complicit to the point that very few people questioned where he was getting the money from. Thousands of Antiguans benefitted personally and individually from his loot. Hundreds of them ‘backed in their trucks’ to get truckloads of money. People flocked to work for wages which were triple or quadruple what they could get elsewhere.

Politicians, lawyers, civil servants (high ranking civil servants), skilled trade professionals ran up there to get some of the Pirate’s booty.

Politicians from both sides benefitted… personally and party-wide. But it was those guys in red who cleaned up. It is purported that personal housing projects were built from the booty. The politicians were not only complicit… they were responsible… they should have asked questions and found answers rather than pretending to be blind.

And the lawyers… they got dirty rich. One of them… one on the blue side… that came from the red side… we know got a million dollar check just for putting together some papers! And this was money that Antiguans had to pay back to the Pirate! This lawyer – through – the Pirate… got a million dollars of the people’s money just for preparing documents. And even after being elevated by the people… his law firm continued to represent and protect the Pirate. He… his law firm… and the other law firms were complicit.

And those cricketers… years ago some of them did the right thing regarding playing in South Africa… But this time around… they all but prostituted themselves for the Pirate’s money. They were complicit.

Oh… and by the way… let’s not forget those Antiguans who it is purported robbed the Pirate of some of his booty: construction materials, construction equipment, and much more.  They too, it is charged… cleaned him out… They benefitted. They were complicit.

Generally, most people in Antigua, were happy that the Pirate chose Antigua for his operations. Of course he constantly threatened to move to this or that island. And every time he did that… Antiguans gave him more land and more love.

Of course, I am rubbing salt into the wounds of the now disenchanted and depressed Antiguans who had purposely turned blind eyes to what went on.

Did I turn a blind eye? Was I also complicit? The answer is a resounding NO!

Well… maybe… maybe I was complicit. I should have done more… The day that it was announced that the Pirate was under scrutiny… was a sad day for me.

Why? Because although it vindicated what I had been saying for seven years… I thought I should have done more… been more vocal… been on the air… wrote in the newspapers…

But… then I went to my blog and I re-read every article that referenced the Pirate… and I felt a little better… not good… just a little better. I had done something… not enough… but something…

If you conduct a search of this blog… you will find “tons” of references to the “Pirate”. I continuously asked questions about the Pirate and his activities. I criticized the government, the opposition and all those Antiguans who went shuffling to him head bent and hat in hand.

I lambasted the lawyers, the cricketers, the politicians and professionals (some of them good friends) – who lowered their principles, put on sun shades, and worked to prop him up… and fatten their pockets.

The evidence was there that something was amiss. Lots of it: Which billionaire business man do you know develops a two bit landscaping business competing with our local weed-wacker carrying yards men?

Which billionaire – who got his billions through big business – would develop some little mediocre housing project that doesn’t – didn’t… couldn’t make any money?

Which hard working billionaire businessman would throw money at cricket… the only sport in the world that doesn’t and wont ever make money - at least not in this part of the world…?

Which savvy business person would go into a business where you know you are going to lose millions of dollars? Who in their right minds… having made had earned dollars would throw it away on and in the airline business?

Which savvy business minded person would employ fifty or more grounds-men to take care of a cricket field? A field that – yes its pleasing to the eyes… but it doesn’t produce any income!

One day I watched those guys on that field… and that was long before any ‘big’ matches were played there. They were at least 20 of them… sitting around… watching the sprinklers in action. Every now and then they would get up… examine tufts of grass… pull out a worm or two… (or something) and go back to sit and sip in the shade. At least 20 people… getting paid to do absolutely nothing for an activity that made the Pirate absolutely no money!

It dawned on me that this Pirate had money to throw away. And was throwing it away. No one who works hard and earns their money – throws it away like that. No one. No where in the world will you find rich business people doing that. My assessment seven years ago was that… something was wrong…. something was amiss…

And… all those Antiguans – politicians, lawyers, civil servants, professionals, tradesmen, labourers… refused to ask questions…. or seek answers. They just lined up and and went shuffling… knees bent, head bowed… hat in hand… 

They were all complicit. I have said so for seven years. And, I am saying so now.

They were not only complicit. They benefitted.

Let me change that. We benefitted. The nation benefitted. The nation was complicit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lessons From A Sage & A Gentleman

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

: A kind and wise older person; one who is distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.

Gentleman: A man who: is polite and respectful of others; acts with high character; demonstrates good and courteous conduct.

A Sage and a Gentleman.

I remember being coached by such a man when I attended the St. Joseph's Academy. We were being prepared to travel to Dominica to compete in our annual tournament with the St. Mary's Academy.

I was impressed then by the demeanor of my cricket coach. He was knowledgeable and a good teacher. He knew all aspects of the game. And he knew how to coach it. I guess there were others who had similar qualifications... not many... but there were certainly a few of them around.

But none had his demeanor... his presence... his quiet authority... his grace in speech... his gentle yet firm approach to coaching... his soft yet - on occasion- stern guidance.. his fluid, definitive, subtle, and balanced demonstrations of how to handle bat and ball... and most importantly... his polite and courteous demeanor... to us... teenagers.

He never raised his voiced... he changed his tone... soft to firm... gentle to stern. He never cursed or spoke a harsh word... (although there were many times when such a reaction would have been understood - based on the behaviors of some of us)... he was always calm and balanced.

And, I felt back then, as I do now that I was in the presence of someone special who had something special. One could feel the inner peace and calm of the man, the quietness which emanated from the inside and radiated on the outside: unruffled... unperturbed... gently yet fiercely focused on the task at hand.

And, even now, as I reflect back on those days... so many years ago... when I was sixteen... I can feel his presence.

And I know now... as I felt then, that cricket was really not what thus true sage and gentleman was teaching us...

Cricket was the medium. But the lessons were instructions in life... on how to live life wisely... This is best summarized as follows:

Our character would be weighed -
Not by how many runs we made...
But the way our attitudes and behaviors were displayed
Would determine our long lasting life's grade...

He was demonstrating through his own persona - through his behaviors... through his demeanor... not just how to play on the field of cricket - but how to be in the field of life...

Use sound judgment. Be polite and respectful to others. Act with high character. Be of good conduct.

Without me knowing it... those lessons from Sir Sydney Walling... have resonated through me for over forty years.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Our Sage Leaders!

By Marcus M. Mottley, Ph.D.

There are many fields of study that I love. Chief among them – Philosophy, Psychology, Physics and … Politics. Interesting – Mottley’s Four “P”s!

These days whether I think about Antigua or America – or the rest of the world – all four “P”s stand front and center. However, you will agree that Politics become the main focus. And what is happening on the local, regional and global scale – in Antigua and in America – is disturbing, very disturbing. At least, I am disturbed.

When I am disturbed, I tend to turn first to Philosophy, then to Psychology and sometimes Physics. So because I am disturbed, I turned to one of my principal teachers: Lao Tzu – the ancient Chinese sage and philosopher.

Of course there is not enough space in this brief discourse to do full justice to his teachings on the body ‘politik’. So I will limit myself to one or two of his thoughts on the matter of “politics” that I thing are worthy of note and which relate to current local and global political developments.
First of all as an aside… the ideal country according to Lao Tzu – “is a small country with a few inhabitants!”

That makes sense to me… less people… less strife and conflict… less stress… less immigration! Antigua used to be like that, but our un-sage-like leaders thought it sage to increase our population with people from everywhere – even from China! Now we have more people… more strife and more conflict…

One of Lao Tzu’s central tenets is his belief about the core tendency of human beings is towards degeneration. This, he claimed is an ‘inherent tendency in human nature’. My comment is that his observations are spot on… just look around you… look into your own heart… listen to the radio… watch TV… listen to the news… degeneration all around! Murders, stealing, political corruption, executive greed, war over land and territory, brothers against brothers, sisters against sisters, religious elements against religious elements… all over the world… including Antigua and Barbuda.

So what is his recommendation to deal with this core human tendency towards degeneration? “Political Authorities (call Sages) should be set up to rescue society and bring peace!

But Lao Tzu recognizes that his prescription for peace could be a proscription for more degeneration if we do not have the pure and genuine ‘sages’. Therefore his recommendation is paradoxical… to say the least. I will deal with this paradox in another article since I want to focus on the ‘sages’.

The ‘sages’ should reflect the essence of the ‘Tao’. Now here we have a term that would essential take a long text to fully do justice to. I will try to explain it simply. The Tao is that which is a part of everything… It is said to be analogous to water… is in everything… not necessarily seen as water… yet influences the world around us… and in us. The essence of the Tao is goodness. One other aspect of the Tao is important… it is un- and in-describable!

So our political authorities… or sages… should reflect the Tao. What are some of their characteristics:
  • They love the people and have as a goal to help people cultivate themselves to reflect the nature of the Tao;
  • They have no individual wants and desires (so they are not using their position to empower themselves);
  • They love quietude; And in this they are calm like still water;
  • Have as a goal to banish the institutions which abuse power and lead to corruption and add to the degeneration of the people;

There are other characteristics – but those are in the same vein… lack of desire for power, deep respect and understanding of nature (the Tao), love and respect for the people and a commitment to banish those institutions and forces that prey on the weaknesses inherent in the people.

So… we need Sage Leaders… in Antigua and in America.

Fortunately, I think we have got rid of two un-sage-like leaders… in Antigua and in America… those two leaders with B’s in their last names.

And we have found two very sage-like leaders – with B’s in their first name: Baldwin Spencer and Barack Obama.

They are both truly as Sage-like as we are likely to ever get! Let's keep, celebrate and give them a chance to lead from their heart.