Opinion: The price of freedom

POSTED: 06/6/12 11:58 AM

The government presents the approval of another public holiday as a budget neutral matter in the explanatory note to the Emancipation Day ordinance, but the truth is nearly a quarter of businesses that were asked say they anticipate they’ll make less money because they’ll have to close. This also means that government is going to have to lose some revenue as well. This fact proves that there is a price for freedom. Or maybe better out, a price for giving people the day off.
There is no doubt that Emancipation Day is significant. There is also no doubt anymore that it comes as a price to all of us. Since that is the case then all of us also need to grab the opportunity that is being created because of this sacrifice. As a people – even one that is multi-cultural – we have the common goal of striving to be emancipated in one way or another. That means each one of us should be reflecting on how we – as a St. Maarten people – are still not free, finding ways to become free.
Let us be honest, not all of us are free to enjoy being in this great country. In this sense let us think of the women who are brought here – sometimes under false pretenses – and forced to earn a living using their bodies, while their passports and their fundamental freedoms are taken away. Let us also think of the whispers we hear of people who are still forced into indentured servitude in homes and stores. These groups of people are not free, and on our new holiday and every other occasion we must speak out for these people and demand that they too should be freed.
As we revel in the freedom to chart our destinies that emancipation offers us let us remember that there are still people in our country who must hide aspects of who they are. In this we mean people, who have a different sexual orientation. St. Maarten is friendly and many seem to accept gays and lesbians, but are we ready as a nation to say that we also support transgender people and their fight to be emancipated from society’s dark view of who they are? One can understand that the church has a view on homosexuality, but should that one view govern who we all are as a people, for not all of us agree with the church’s view point.
Because freedom is somewhat intangible, we must find more than just the dollars and cents to pay for festivities – even though that has to be part of it. But we must also tap the power inside of each of us to recognize that freedom is not a one day affair, it is a lifelong process to which we must all commit.

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