28 May 2009
Sometimes life's most important actions take place out of sight, off stage, behind the main scene, as it were. Of course our media--print, radio and TV--normally cover the actions of the major public actors, or the lead political spin or the 'bad news' story that grabs the headlines. Often, however, it's the story that happens off centre stage or at the side, almost not seen, that brings the greater good to more people for a longer period of time. And in the long run, it's that one that really counts.
Take what happened down at SIBC for the whole of May. A dedicated group of 45 or more citizens struggled to hammer out a new national constitution. Each day for the past four weeks, for instance, these men/women, old/young, highly experienced/novice, former public servants/ teachers,housewives, mothers, urban elite/village chief met for 8 hours daily and methodically worked through the 2004 Draft Constitution.
They were bent on creating a new home-grown document which would fit Solomon Islands for the 21st century.
Some might be of the opinion that all this fuss about a constitution is an emphasis on secondary issues and goes the wrong way. What is needed, they say, is more of an accent on getting the nation healed, wealth production plans in this time of financial chaos and having a strong focus on the getting our people dedicated to the future. Most if not all those who labor down at SIBC these past 20 days would be the first to say Amen.
But they also realize that part of the recent troubles the nation experienced in 1998-2003 were fundamental issues. Of course mis-development, corruption in high and low places, poor leadership, land issues, etc. etc. played their part in searing our nation and bringing it to the breaking point. But at the heart of many of these areas of concern is the fact that the our original constitution, handed to us ready made at independence, was anything but a home-grown reality.
The original document was crafted by UK legal craftsmen who knew little of Solomons people. As good as the document was, it was a constitution not locally rooted but prepared by persons who knew little about the Solomons' reality, customs and traditions. At independence, it would have been impossible for Solomon Islanders even with great expertise at hand to craft a new document which would act at the touch stone for a country entering the late 20th century and a fit preparation for the 21st century.
Our 30 years of history with its ups and downs, its good years as well as bad, blessed at times with brilliant leadership but suffering years of mediocrity as well had to be felt, lived and experienced first to make this most recent attempt at producing a new constitution, one which would reflect a Solomons reality.
And that is precisely the point. Our 30 years of Solomons experience has become the touch stone of what works for us as well as a crystal ball showing us why we actually went off the social rails for five years. In a real sense those dedicated people down at SIBC who are sweating daily to craft a document for the newest century are in a process of un-learning.
What a fortunate bunch of people! These 40 or so dedicated citizens have been given the luxury to deeply study the nation's foundation document and in their wisdom and experience to do their best to make it more endurable for the nation of their children and grandchildren. They know that at 1978's independence the whole of Solomon Islands were euphoric: finally their own sons and daughters would be leading the new nation to great heights.
Unfortunately in 1998 that very same dream came to a screeching halt. For five long years of pain, humiliation and sorrow the nation endured deep suffering. Who could have guessed that in the wake of those dark days, the nation's sons and daughters would be spending long hours seeking to make sure that that terrible nightmare would never re-appear. Yes, great things are happening behind the scene, off camera and out of sight! Pray for them!