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mercredi 19 août 2009

Commentary: The lesson of life!

Commentary: The lesson of life!

Published on Saturday, August 15, 2009

By Jean H Charles

I am part of the baby boomer generation, those of us born on or around 1946 after the Second World War. We are the products of the exuberance of those men coming from the trench facing death and ready to live for the fullest. Those men are now in their nineties as my own father. I am enjoying splendid days with him, watching him holding on to life. At ninety-seven years old, he looks like he is in his seventies.

Jean H Charles MSW, JD is Executive Director of AINDOH Inc a non profit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol.
His secret, I have found it only recently. We slept in the same room for the first time, in Atlanta at the graduation of my son from College. My father starts his day with a heavy dose of athletic exercises that he learned while in school. I blamed him for not taking the time in the last sixty years to teach me those exercises. I have a stomach that I am fighting to flatten for the last five years without much success.

An intellectual and a scholar, my father keeps his mind sharp and entertained, he reread his classics regularly and often edits my column, helping me to spice my topic with the right Latin dictum that says everything in two words.

My generation is the one that gave us Bill Clinton and George Bush (both 63 years, my own age). Some of us went to the Vietnam War, fought the racist segregation of the South, on the side of Dr Martin Luther King in the United States. We also raised money with the Riverside or Trinity Church to send to the fighters of the racist regime of South Africa to bring Nelson Mandela out of prison so he could try to make his nation hospitable to all..

Some did inhale or use heavy drugs and escape to India searching for an elusive meaning of life. Many died in that search, those of us who lived became, lawyers, social workers, doctors, politicians and executives. We thought we could make a perfect world. Indeed, we tried with the Lindsay administration in New York in the 70s. I was the enthusiastic student of social scientist leaders like Georges Bragger and Frances Piven who forced New York City to increase the welfare budget for the thousand of blacks trying to escape the inhospitable South. Their children became the graduates and the professionals that give the whole United States the flavor of a generation proud and profoundly American as Barack Obama.

In the Caribbean islands, it was the time (with the exception of Haiti) where leaders like John Compton of St Lucia, were demanding that England set them free to dispose of their own destiny. The incubation to freedom was neither easy nor pleasant; thousand left home to establish themselves in America, Canada or England creating a cerebral hemorrhage that is still affecting the Caribbean ethos and society.

How we fared as father, husband, citizen, is the story that we are passing on to our children as they are coming into age to make their own decisions about life?

Most of us are divorced once or twice. I cherished the companionship of women. I found it a privilege, to have a woman who gave herself to the man that she cares for. It is a communion made in heaven. My generation loves also the companionship of men. I am fortunate to grow in the brotherhood of the Haitian ethos. I have found that the men from Haiti and from Trinidad have a boundless capacity to entertain themselves amongst each other without the thought or an insignia of a homosexual advance. They have maintained the refreshing boyhood camaraderie that entertains, educates and emulates with the passing of age.

Father of two, I was dreaming to become a better father than my own one, close to but not intrusive in the lives of my children.. Passing on all those pitfalls and that little joy that make life pleasant and comforting at the end of the day. My divorce put a brake to that dream.. I am still trying; since every summer, I still plant the flowers and the vegetable garden for my ex-wife and the children. I comfort them with the practice that Daddy is always present for them, so they can feel secure to go on, with life and achieve their own dream.

As a transnational citizen, I enjoy watching Bill Clinton after power. I was there last August at the last conference of the Clinton Global Initiative; Clinton the flagship of the baby boomer generation, cajoling the millionaire stars or executives to depart with some of their millions for the benefit of getting nets and pills to combat malaria in Africa, fighting human trading in Thailand and Cambodia, or hurricane and bad governance consequences in Haiti.

Back to my birthplace after some forty years of education and life in the United States, I have brought fresh smile to the people that have been without hope for the last fifty years. They have seen and lived under thirty years of brutal dictatorship sustained by and maintained with the connivance of those who let Robert Mugabe get his way in Zimbabwe. The rest of the twenty years they have seen regimes from the right and from the left lied to them about bringing hospitality to all.

As a true baby boomer, Bill Clinton has humbly accepted to guide Haiti under the insistence of Ban Ki Moon, the UN General Secretary. On his first days of duty, he was surprised that convulsive circles, national and international were encoding any attempt to coordinate meaningful assistance delivery to those who need it the most.

I am now mapping with the civil society, the business sector and the young students the dream of creating a society designed to be the lantern of the world, in term of humanity, fraternity and hospitality enshrined in a vision set some two hundred years ago by its founding father. The lantern was destroyed in 1820 at the death of King Henry Christophe. It did not re-ignite since. Working to revive it is a genuine dream of a baby boomer! There is rumor in Haiti that Bill Clinton will be the next governor of the island! I know he is too busy with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to be engulfed into the Haitian politics.

I am setting the tone for a whole generation of transnational to come back home and continue the creation of their home land that the previous leaders like Compton, Manley, and Bishop have initiated. The people of the Caribbean do deserve a better chance to education, good health care and decent jobs in their own setting.

I know I can count on the friends from the Caribbean and elsewhere to support financially the circle of friends of Jean H Charles in bringing about incremental and fundamental change into Haiti in the next presidential campaign taking place in November 2010.

Achieving that goal will bring the lesson of life in full circle where it can and will produce the best results.

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