POMP AND CONSEQUENCE

As the academic year ended, school after school rented halls, held ceremonies, handed out certificates, praised and lauded 12th graders, 8th graders, 6th graders, kindergartners, even pre-schoolers for their accomplishments. Everyone was proud and positive about a future full of promise.
Government House on St. Croix reopened with a glorious (albeit besmirched) ceremony after more than $13 million was spent on refurbishments to restore it to some former glory.
Last week two ceremonies were held to honor a man who was promoted to brigadier general and commander of the V.I. National Guard.
Ceremonies and celebrations are on tap to commemorate Emancipation Day and Independence Day throughtout the territory Monday and Tuesday.
The Virgin Islands loves its pomp. But consider the circumstances.
Do we continue to lull ourselves into a false sense of stability and security with the never-ending – and cumulatively costly – all-is-well rituals?
The children’s story of "The Emperor’s New Clothes" comes to mind.
While parades and ceremonies are being held to honor this and that, the realities are that all is far from well. In fact, it’s about as bad as it has ever been in living memory. We will likely face a critical shortage of teachers this fall. The Public Works Department has again failed to meet a federal deadline to deal with environmental pollution. There is little or no money to fix our roads, buy textbooks for our children or advertise the territory as a tourist destination and thereby bring in desperately needed revenues. The police are demonstrating over pay issues and the teachers will assuredly do the same as the start of the new school year nears. And these represent just the tip of the iceberg in the American Paradise.
It is true: In the Virgin Islands, the emperor is wearing no clothes. No matter how proud and pompous he may be, no matter how many ceremonies and parades are held, no matter what we pretend, the nakedness is there for those who will not refuse to see.
Less pomp and more attention to our circumstances would better serve the people of the Virgin Islands. Surely the children know that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. While the emperor proclaims and declaims, they will have to find their own way to school without his help.

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