Heroes belong to the people

EDITOR - In reply to your Editorial of 4 June 2014, your suggestion to see an independent commission set up to address the complex question of national heroism is a rational and honourable call, which, I hope, will be met with urgent debate amongst your readership.

The status quo, as you have already stated, requires that in life, heroes must be ever-obedient sons or at least meet their fate before their criticism of the powers that be is made public. It seems that heroes are picked according to how well they fit the current political narrative and how this narrative is rewriting our history and dictating the writing of our future.

Essentially, do the people need independently chosen heroes? Perhaps the question is whether people understand why they need to be independently selected and why the choice should be protected in law?

The directed editing out of controversy and conflict and how it has been ‘resolved’ within the party is a re-education policy in effect since pre-Independence. The events as they occurred, as unpalatable and as unattractive as they were, have slowly but surely been streamlined into a binary argument where only two sides exist and we are invited to choose our side with obvious consequences. Our present struggle is not just to call for unbiased representation in the award of accolades, but to somehow find a way to teach a young nation the meaning and the value of integrity, independence, criticism and the balance of law.

In context, with UNICEF unable to provide verified literacy rates (Dec 2013), does it matter that the books and oral histories are now sanitised or one-sided? The youth, the future, are effectively disempowered. This is the mis-education of a generation. We must empower a nation of future leaders who cannot possibly all now know what a complex history lies beneath an apparently simple battle that exists between the politics of the ruling party and the opposition.

I have great respect for you and the others from the preceding generations who spoke and still speak the names of those who lost their lives speaking their minds in support of a better society and better country. Defending the dead is a risky business but it must be done. We are caretakers of our own history. So now, who will teach our children rhetoric, so they are equipped to understand and interpret the messages sent by the state-sanctioned choice of ‘heroes’?

How long before debate, protest and critical thought are no longer outlawed because no one understands their relevance? – Catherine Dunford, Bristol, UK

Post published in: Letters to the Editor

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