Independence and the Price of Freedom By Dr. Rhoda Arrindell

Just the other day, I asked some folks in a gathering if they were happy with the way things are taking place on our island, and, like me, they are not happy. When I asked if what they intended to do about it, the response was tepid. That was a warning bell to me and even more reason to fear the direction our island nation is headed.

A few years ago, when he visited the St. Martin Book Fair, the young professor MK Asante left a message with the audience: “If you have an observation, you have an obligation.” The then 26-year-old reminded us that we cannot remain silent and complicit when we notice injustice taking place in our community.

I understand why some people choose to remain silent out of fear of being targeted by the powers that be. Many of us who have dared to stand up to injustice and other ills over the years know all too well what the repercussions can be. They can range from being disregarded for jobs and funding opportunities, economic boycott of your business, shady “investigations” of you and your family, to even death (Mr. Helmin Wiels being the most recent example). However, we also know that Freedom comes at a price, but it is a price that must be paid.

Many St. Martiners will tell you that they know that Independence is the solution to St. Martiners taking full control of their destiny as a people, with all the ramifications thereof. Yet, just a few are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices for this to happen. I’m not talking about the perceived material sacrifices that so many attribute to being a politically independent territory in this region. I am referring to sacrifices in terms of comfort zones and especially false notions of “power,” when in reality our people remain powerless in shaping our destiny.

Colonialism—whether by the USA, Dutch, French, British, or whomever—is evil and unjust. No matter how it is dressed up or whatever euphemisms are used to conceal it, it always works to the detriment of the colonized people and their way of life. The fact is St. Martin is a colony, and the contrived colonial domination that is currently taking place (on both sides of the island) is not in the interest of the St. Martin people, no matter what politicians tell you.

At this point in our development, my dear St. Martiners, the right thing for all of us to do at this time, regardless of age, political colors, passports, etc. is to unite and take a strong stand against colonialism and the continued use of our island nation and people as pawns to satisfy an evil agenda. We must do this not just for the common good today, but also in the interest of our children and future generations. We as St. Martiners, too, need to be honest with ourselves, that if we want our freedom and to preserve our island for the future generations, we must be willing to make sacrifices today, now.

I am calling on all St. Martiners to talk to your representatives, on both sides of the island, and urge them to put down their campaigning weapons and get together to fight this evil noose of colonialism around our collective necks. Those of us who know that independence is the way to save St. Martin cannot afford to sit idly by or remain complicit in the annihilation of our people and our values.

For those aspiring to get into Heaven, know that you cannot get in there while you’re still alive. W. Somerset Maugham once said: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”
February 25, 2019