82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 21, 2024


Dear Source:
I am a Virgin Islander living abroad and like many other Virgin Islanders in similar position we attempt to promote our home wherever we go. I remember quite vividly the days when I stood proud and serve as the self-proclaimed ambassador for the Virgin Islands. Tooting the natural beauty of the territory coupled by the warm friendly residents that inhabit these tropical isles. I spoke of the days when the Virgin Islands was really one big village that took special care of all children. This was long before the phrase was coined and inserted into the political lexicon. I remember the days when our public school students competed and often surpassed the achievements of mainland private school students. I further remember when we respected and trusted our elected officials to do what is right. I reflect on all this and questioned myself; was I naive, short sighted or totally out of touch.
Much of my days are now spent wondering how did we come to this impasse? How do we effectively address the deteriorating conditions that the people of the Virgin Islands now face? Do we have the will power or the intestinal fortitude to do what is necessary for the future of our home? Or do we throw our hands up and pray for the best? Well, if the natural disasters that have befell the Virgin Islands in the last ten years taught us anything, that thing is we are a resilient people.
I truly believe that the solutions to our problems are before our eyes, however, we must first admit to ourselves that we have a problem. We must be mature enough to recognize our weaknesses and thus seek out those with the necessary expertise. Most importantly, we must quickly mature, politically, as a people. Gone are the days when we elect politicians who are extremely popular but lack substance and virtue. We must reward productivity and rid ourselves of the political driftwood that contribute nothing but animosity and confusion. We have got to realize, that as a territory of the United States, governed only by the Organic Act, a U.S. citizen has the same rights in the Virgin Islands as he/she would have in any other state or territory. Therefore, the argument of "they can't come here and do that" does not hold water. As long as individuals lawfully conduct business and adhere to local regulations, their endeavors should not be stymied because of who they are or where they come from. As Virgin Islanders we have got to spread our entrepreneurial wings and create partnerships that benefit the respective investors and territory as well. More importantly, we have got to end the maternal relationship we have with the government and creatively develop employment opportunities outside of the governmental structure.
I do believe it is time for new leadership. I further believe that it will take a cadre of young professionals that are committed to the people of the Virgin Islands. It amazes me when I read of Virgins Islanders all over this world contributing in very positive ways to their respective communities. I also read in local articles of imported "experts" that lack sensitivity to the beliefs and culture of the people of the Virgin Islands. There is no shortage of professional Virgin Islanders with national recognition who are willing to return home but are frustrated by the bureaucratic hurdles they encounter. Additionally, there are professionals presently in the territory who want to contribute but are unable to do so, because they are not part of the old guard. It is time to do away with the status quo. Anyone who defends the status quo should be able to articulate to the people of the Virgin Islands, why the United States is enjoying the greatest economic boom while government employees are facing payless paydays? Have them explain to you why governmental departments are paralyzed because the budget allotted covers payroll only? Are we paying employees just to come to work? Is this contributing in any positive way to the quality of life in the Virgin Islands? Have them explain to you why so many of our students forgo classes and fall behind due to the lack of teachers, yet, the education department is bloated with administrators. Where is the priority? I understand creating a career path for teachers, but not at our children's expense. Further, have them explain why tourism has been promoted as our lifeblood but we have allowed the airlines to make our port an exclusive port by virtue of their fares. Keep in mind that the hotels are not filled by cruise ship passengers, but by passengers arriving by air. Incidentally, the tourist that contribute most to our economy is the tourist that spends three to four days on our islands. It is time for a change and the defenders of the status quo should be told in no uncertain term "Its time to go."
I do not pretend to have all the answers to the issues raised but I am confident that as a people we can collectively address and solve most of our problems. What we need is the spirit of cooperation, and good will, which was prevalent, post the wake of Hurricane Marilyn. We need committed leaders that are concern about the welfare of the territory and not just their personal growth. Finally, we need to return to the faith that has made us strong. Remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Stop the insanity.
P. Nats
North Carolina

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