After 43 years what should independence mean for us? I say “should” mean rather than “does’ mean, for the obvious reason that there will be varying views about the latter, and people should speak of course for themselves. “Should”, on the other hand, implies evaluation and recommendation, an effort to state how far we measure up to the ideal suggested by independence, how far we fall below it, and what still remains to be done. |
An independent individual and an independent nation are not the same thing, but there are commonalities between the two. For the individual, independence means among other things a justifiable sense of one’s own worth, a fitting self-respect and self-esteem. One may be prompted by such pride to attempt the best of what one is capable. Such independence respects others in all their diversity, and understands “human” as the category that trumps all other designations and classifications. It means that one belongs to a family and to a larger community, and that self-centered isolation means only diminishment and impoverishment. An independent nation similarly takes legitimate pride in its uniqueness. There is an awful impulse among some nations to regard themselves as more civilized, or more developed, or more powerful, or simply greater than others. Whenever I hear such talk, I often smile to myself because history is littered with the accumulation of nations that called themselves the greatest. Interestingly, the greatest are also often connected to those who have waged the bloodiest wars. No individual is at any time complete, and no nation is either. We all have more to become and more to be rid of in our attitudes and behaviour in order to keep reaching towards our potential.
As nations go, 43 years is hardly a long time. It means we are still young, and therefore need not imagine that our better days are behind us. As long as the Spirit blows where it wills, we can be sure that we will at some point experience afresh its creative breath upon our designs and undertakings.
Rev’d Fr. Colin Humes