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OF COFFINS, REEFS AND PIERS

In the “old days” when our airport saw only the odd flight of BWIA bringing a few tourists to marvel at our unspoiled and virtually unoccupied beaches, or taking our fathers and brothers off to America, so that they could join one of the National Bulk Carriers ships, either in the USA or as far away as Japan, I recall reading a series of billboards that were placed along the roadside leading to the airport. You will forgive me if I don’t quote the message exactly, for I’m retrieving images that were stored some sixty years ago in my ageing memory bank. I believe there were four individual boards. The first one declared, “He who drives.” The second: “When he is drunk.” The third (and here I’m not as positive), “Should carry his coffin.” The fourth and final: “In his trunk.” Whether the third stated, “should carry” or “should haul” or “should take” I’m not sure. But you get the idea.

Sadly, that is still the truth. Maybe we should be retro and erect those four billboards all across the island. Now, bear with me for a bit, for I find myself thinking of those billboards (about the dangers of drunk/drinking-driving) as a metaphor of sorts—the kind of message that decision-makers at all levels should bear in mind.

Our legislators, for example, should be exceptionally cautious in accepting the assurances of the experts that the disturbances and disruptions of the marine ecosystem necessary for the erecting of a cruise ship birthing pier. Should we find out after the fact—when the experts have deposited our cheques—that they were not omniscient, and that nature has a way of always being beyond human control, it will then sadly be much, much too late. We already have real evidence that the warming of our seas is causing death and decline of our coral reefs. Do we think that these weakened ecosystems can survive the kinds of stresses that will be intentionally placed on them in order for somebody to make more money?

Our own Dr. Steve McField has offered a sobering observation, “More is not better than enough.” Maybe we should apply this aphorism as the guiding principle for the development of our islands’ economy; else we may have to haul a very large coffin in our collective trunk.

Pastor Alson Ebanks

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