Positioning myself as a critic of West Indian culture may frame me in such a way that my words seem poison, as if they are complaints launched by a foreign but professional whiner. When did critique and love become mutually exclusive? Does somehow being critical of something suddenly mean you don’t see its value? This view is patently wrong. Critique in itself can be a demonstration of love, and with regards to Saint Lucia and the West Indies this is most certainly where my need to critique stems from. I have a vision of what our country could be like given the intelligence, survivorship and drive our people possess. While some of our more positive traits may seem to be dwindling fast, I still believe we can do the work of healing.
Without critique, there can be no cultural growth. If we accept every piece of our culture as it comes, how can we hope to adapt and survive in a changing world? We will need to change and we will need to adapt and as we change, our culture need not disappear, but should change with us. A part of humanity is always striving for better, and working towards improvement. For some, this need to “strive” can be capitalist and self-interested. They will strive to accumulate as much wealth as possible at the expense of those around them. For others, an effort towards improvement may be moving towards the deconstruction of oppressive power structures towards a more egalitarian world. Arguably, a push towards an egalitarian society is a part of Christian duty.
I love Saint Lucia. I love the West Indies. I love our culture. Yes, I mean that I love more than carnival, our food and our music. I even love some of the “bad” things about our culture like the tradition of poor customer service and the rambunctious attitudes of our people. But if I loved Saint Lucia and didn’t point out the areas we need to work on, that love would be hollow and disingenuous. It’s like being in a relationship. You may accept the good and the bad, but this doesn’t mean you suddenly begin to see the “bad” as something good.
While there is a lot to appreciate about our country and region, there is also a lot to work on. Pretending we don’t have problems will not make the problems go away. Relying on external forces will not solve anything either. Every country, especially countries ravaged by hundreds of years of colonialism, has a lot to fix. Critique moves us forward; it helps us to heal and to grow. If that isn’t an act of love, I’m not sure what is.