From self-reliance to the loser-mentality
The Cayman generations of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s and before were world-renowned for their self reliance and tenacity in the face of adversity. The men were sometimes called ‘iron-men’ who mastered ‘wooden ships’ and later some of the world’s largest super tanker and ore carriers. The strength and resilience of the women were reflected in their management of their family’s affairs, their child rearing skills and their instilling of strong values in their children.
Self reliance and strength of moral character were a key part of the Cayman psyche.
That was then but this is now.
Update to the second decade of the 21st century and the 'loser-mentality' has enveloped almost every aspect of our society, from top to bottom.
The change came relatively quickly during the 70’s 80’s and 90’s as the financial, real estate and tourism industries exploded. Those generations were not prepared for the sudden inflow of wealth and the educational requirements to compete in this new society.
Successive British administrators and later elected governments failed to have the foresight to predict the future needs of the country and its people. Caymanians wanted and deserved to stay at home and enjoy the new found wealth in their own country, rather than to traverse the oceans as seamen.
The sale of our lands and beaches brought instant wealth to many – a wealth that only a few managed to invest wisely, and only a minority managed to acquire the aggressive skills and educational background necessary to survive in this new economy.
By the late 90’s a good proportion of the then-generation had managed to acquire better educational backgrounds, many by studying abroad. They returned home full of excitement and enthusiasm only to find out that those who had helped to create the tourism, legal and financial industries were not as welcoming to locals into these industries as the locals had earlier welcomed them to Cayman to establish themselves and these industries in the country.
As the economic boom diminished, it is not surprising that discontent and crime increased rapidly as it has in the local population in the past 20 years.
We are at the beginning of the second decade of a new century and our situation has deteriorated beyond belief. Those that we welcomed to our country now own the best beaches, the best homes, the best jobs, and control the wealth that Caymanians believed they deserve and would have received.
There are many factors that brought us to where we are. So who do we blame for our plight? There is plenty of blame to go around, but the blame-game is a road that has no end, and will go on forever, and it will accomplish nothing but hatred and disharmony in the society.
My suggestion is that we blame no particular group or party. We stop targeting others for our misfortune. We examine where we are and look back at how we got here, but don’t waste our time or energy blaming others.
We need to look at ourselves individually and ask: ‘Do we still have any moral values? Do we have any pride left in our being? Are we self-reliant like our forefathers? Do we have the attitude that we can change the plight of our family and our country? How do we improve our own lives and the lives of those around us?’
As I said at the beginning, the loser-mentality has a stronghold in our society. Our moral character and spirit of self-reliance has for the most part been buried with our grand-parents and parents.
A large section of our population will apparently sell our souls for a few dollars, a new appliance here, a promise of a job there, a financial benefit or other gift in exchange for your vote. A special relationship with government that benefits ourselves, but we know that it is at the expense of the society generally.
These benefits of getting something for nothing, of gaining at the expense of our country, of a special deal that puts us at an advantage over our competitors are, my friends, the underbelly of corruption.
It does not matter how poor you are or how rich you are, YOU ARE A LOSER if you accept gifts from someone, whether it be a dollar or a special contract, in exchange for anything that benefits yourself and that someone in a position of trust.
We need to rise above this, otherwise our society will become so embedded with corruption that there will be no hope for our children’s future. We will become dependent on the bearer of gifts who have ulterior motives that will eventually harm us more than it helped us.
The greatest harm of all is that our moral values and spirit of self reliance will become just a memory of the greatest part of who we were, a long time ago.
We can do better than this, my friends. Start by not being tricked into believing that we can get something for nothing. We can individually rebuild our values and self- reliance one step at a time – no matter how poor or rich we are.
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