We are a lot more alike than we would like to think. So it seems unfortunate that, in the thick of things, we seem to be consumed with drawing lines instead of creating common ground.
Recent events just seem to fuel opportunities to draw more lines. At the end of it all, we seem content to wallow in our antagonism and discontent rather than put in the hard work to find common ground and build tangible and profitable regional integration.
Many may find it objectionable to draw this parallel, but we have been struggling with integration forever. Being on the other side of the divide in racism, we should have been more than averse to any concepts of segregation, in whatever form.
Malcolm X once said, “I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being — neither white, black, brown or red — and when you are dealing with humanity as a family, there’s no question of integration.”
That rings true even now. Within the context of Caribbean integration, I respect the need for nations to retain an understanding of identity and sovereignty; however, in the same breath, within the framework of increased globalization, I think sovereignty as an excuse for insularity is a regressive posture.
Jamaica is itself a living testimony to this. The short-lived political union known as the West Indies Federation, which existed between 1958 and 1962, saw its demise through internal struggles between the provinces, not the least of which were positions put forth by Jamaica. At the end of it all, history will show a once-haughty Jamaica humbled after its exit from the Federation in the form of economic and social woes that prevail to this day.
The interesting thing is that it’s that same apparent disparity that proves to be inspiration for residents to leave Jamaica, and yet still reason for its neighbors to refuse Jamaicans entry. The position is not unique to Jamaica, though. Haiti also “enjoys” similar relations with its Caribbean neighbors, evidenced by recent developments with the Dominican Republic. The foreseeable future has other nations suffering from similar downturns, with competition within the global village continuing to heat up as smaller countries are unable to leverage economies of scale to find success or better margins.
Kofi Annan once said, “Arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity.”
Yet, still, we advocate positions that seem counter to our fundamental collective good. In the repetitive discussions arguing individual superiority, we miss countless opportunities to fix the real issues that hold us back as a region. Not only does the posturing prove ineffectual, but it also serves to highlight the fact that we are but mirrors of each other. You posture, I posture, we all are the same.