Burofocus Consulting Bureau

The Catalyst Project

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Building a Nation: Taking Stock

Dr. Nilda Arduin, 1999

A nation is popularly defined as a large group of people who share certain things in common. Let's take stock of what we as a people living on Sint Maarten have in common, and offset this against our differences. In light of the present political reality, I will limit myself to an inventory of the southern part of the island Dutch Sint Maarten.

We share a common territory, language and history. This history is for some more recent than others, as we all at some point and time came to Sint Maarten and stayed here. We share an economic life, an educational system, a legal system and a government. We follow the same rules and regulations, and we desire to live a decent and peaceful life. Our main differences originate from our different cultural traditions, financial strength, ethnicity (personal identity), and religion.

Having established what we share in common, and identified our main differences, the question is: Can we create unity in the diversity? I believe that we can, since it is our desire, individually and collectively, to live here in peace.

In the constitution of the UNESCO is written: "Since war begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed ". It therefore has to start with reconditioning our minds. We need to invest our energy to develop positive thinking to overcome our differences, and focus on our common goals.

We should begin to develop inter-cultural friendships to learn about the cultural traditions of others that came here, while those who came here should study the cultural traditions of this land. This will create greater understanding, tolerance and respect for each other. Let's break barriers of ethnicity. Educate one another to do away with myths, and false concepts about the various ethnic groups. New friendship will lead to understanding, and erosion of prejudice.

While kindness and friendliness are becoming luxuries and expensive commodities in the world, holding on to financial strength to execute power will become senseless if you cannot live in peace. Religion is the root of our society; we cannot however serve God and mammon, for you will love one and hate the other.

Our Christian faith teaches us however, to love your neighbor as yourself. Positive thinking as a practical application to overcome hostility and prejudice, will develop a constructive mind, assist us to live more effective lives, and enhance our dedication towards our goal of building a nation.