by Judy M McCutcheon
We are in very uncharted waters. Another straight 14 days of strict curfew confined to our living spaces. Supermarkets opened once per week for both stocking and shopping. Lines are longer than anything you’ve ever imagined for getting a loaf of bread and some sugar.
I remember 27 July 1990, the coup in Trinidad when men from the Jamaat Al Muslimeen stormed the parliament building. I will never forget those times because I spent the curfew hours alone; don’t know how I didn’t suffer a mental breakdown. Many people can tell us about the Grenada Revolution and all the things they’ve had to endure just to ensure they made it out alive. We are comfortable fighting an enemy that we can see; we can anticipate their next move and plan for it. This enemy is silent and deadly. However, we can gain the upper hand because we have lessons learned from other countries that have suffered immensely at his hands. I’m sorry, but this sucker must be male.
What I want you to know is that you are resilient. You come from a long line of people who don’t give up. Do you know the resilience needed to travel thousands and thousands of miles across the ocean in the bottom of a ship stacked one on top of the other? Can you imagine being sold without even being able to keep your name and the only culture you know? But I’ll tell you what, our forefathers and foremothers had so much strength and courage, most of them made it past the Bermuda triangle, and they fought for our freedom. So yes, I know that these times are difficult, you are not free to roam as you please, you cannot hug and kiss your friends and loved ones. You cannot go to the beach and drink and have fun with your friends in the usual way. These are uncommon times, so we have to find unusual ways to allow this new normal work for us. This will be our way of living for several months, so accept the “is-ness” of the situation. Some of these ways will be permanently incorporated into our lives, this time requires us to change, and though it’s hard, change is our only constant. The bible said in Revelation, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” This tells us that things will change.
My heart aches for those women and children for whom the streets were their only escape from the violence at home. I worry that we may end up with more domestic violence deaths that coronavirus deaths. What about those who are alone at this time? What about those who are mentally unstable? There is so much we can do to help. We are not hopeless nor helpless. We can be our brothers and sisters keepers—check-in with them regularly. Call your parents daily. My siblings and I take turns calling our mother every day so that she has someone to talk to, and she does not venture out of the house. Check-in with your brothers and sisters even if you have not spoken to them in a long time. These are fragile times; family and friends are all the matter in the end. Now is the time to forgive them and to forgive yourself.
What about doing some virtual cooking classes? I would love to learn how to bake and sauté and fillet. There are so many free video conferencing software at your disposal. Let us see opportunities where none existed before. What about those of you who are fitness instructors – give some free classes, it will do wonders for your mental health as well. Almost every profession could take their craft online. You just need to be creative. Let’s create our own instead of only using online resources that take our dollars out of the Caribbean. Build your own so that your dollar and my dollar could circulate within the Caribbean and help to build our infrastructure. I know these are rough times, but I know you can do it, we are a resilient people. Together we can do this. Chin up. Go create.
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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net