28 April 2009
When a doctor diagnoses a patient's serious sickness, e.g. cancer, tumor, a life threatening disease, both patient and doctor usually seek out a Second Opinion. Would another doctor make the same diagnosis with all the information at hand? It's good medical practice to have another doctor study the same medical facts, examine the patient and give his/her verdict. It's a case of two heads are better than one; not too many cooks spoiling the broth!
This week the nation witnesses an example of seeking a Second Opinion but one that focuses on the awful events of our social sickness years of 1998-2003. The Solomons Government, to its credit, has finally set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to study, in depth, what exactly happened to our country at the turn of the century and especially find out why these things happened.
Serious crime--murder, rape, arson, beatings, kidnappings, wholesale theft, etc.--took place at an unprecedented scale. These serious crimes came, not from an invading army, nor from strangers from afar but from our own people, many times from the victim's own relatives or friends known for many years.
The TRC seeks to find out the sources of this grave social sickness. Over the past ten years, then, in the presence and with the assistance of RAMSI for almost six years many concerned citizens have already identified causes why parts of the Solomons went so disastrously off the social rails. Some laid the blame squarely on the land issue, others said it was corruption in high places and still others claimed it was due to mis-development of the nation large scale. Fortunately, however, this dreaded social disease did not take root in every island and, in fact, was confined mostly to a single island, Guadalcanal and on that island, only the Weather Coast and Honiara's surroundings, suffered the most painful breakout of the disease.
Yes, other sections of the nation--Gizo, northern Malaita--did show some symptoms of the disease but for the most part society's social fabric remained strong and resilient. In fact, more than 95% of Solomons society protected our homeland when Central Government proved incapable, the nation's security force, our police, was internally compromised and politicans, both nationally and provincially, were such weak reeds that they could offer little assistance.
The lowly village person, on the other hand, proved to have the glue that kept the Solomons from flying apart. For 5 years village society fed the kids, protected the olos, guarded their women folk and kept rural society which is 84% of the population ticking over on its own with little or no assistance from central authorities. To this day few national leaders have understood, much less embraced, this basic truth. They think that RAMSI did the job of turning the Solomons around. If truth be known, RAMSI saved government and its elite. Rural Solomons' future, however, was guaranteed by the village person!
For the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to produce a Second Opinion on why the social unrest sickness laid the Solomons low, it must not only recognize the obvious signs of the social disease but to weigh carefully what it is about the village sector that enabled the nation's life to stick together, to work for a solid future and to dampen down, in some cases completely root out, those who worked mightily for chaos to triumph.
In other words, TRC has landed itself a two-fold job. First to identify clearly what are the reasons why certain individuals chose to almost destroy our nation with crime, criminal acts and evil deeds. And secondly, why so few Solomon Islanders followed the chaos workers strong trend to destroy, contaminate and disrupt normal life.
Both realities--the few who actively chose chaos and the vast majority who remained solid citizens--are but two sides of the same coin. TR Commissioners have a huge task confronting them.There are no simple, clear and undisputed reasons why some of our own people thought serious and profound chaos would win the day for them. While the vastly more numerous refused to travel the chaos road. After all, those who did chose to follow a safer, more peaceful and in some cases, a more difficult path of forbearance and love had no guarantee that their decision would ultimately carry the day.