INDEPENDENCE


After 44 years what should independence mean for us? I am sure there will be varying views to such a question. 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 neither. 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, 44 years is hardly a long time. It means we are still very young, and therefore need not imagine that our better days are behind us. A worthy national life is less flashy, less corrupt, more civil than we happen to be at the moment, and more in keeping with the ongoing commitment of thousands of citizens to live decent lives and to bring up their children to do the same. If I may say a word about the Church: these are challenging times for us, indeed for organized religion on the whole. With independence we were much taken with an agenda of indigenization, i.e., local leaders, local influences in liturgy, and broadly speaking, with incorporating local cultural expression into Church life. This meant more than having Junkanoo as part of worship, but of course it included that. Time has shown that this agenda, important though it was and is, is not enough to ensure or create religious vitality. That depends on the quality and depth of commitment in individual hearts. Such commitment may appear less robust today than before, but in the face of our unprecedented challenges, it may be more courageous. The Church - the community of faith - has played and still must play a pivotal role. A genuine commitment to Christian principles and conduct is the ideal to which we all must continue to aspire. Anglicans should remember that we do not face hard times for the first time. We have been here before, in periods as daunting as that which now confronts 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