In Wheatake 32, I mentioned that there is hope for a bright future for B. V. Islanders because the rugged individualism which motivated and supported our forebears is still alive in our patriotism. In this Wheatake, I propose to explain briefly rugged individualism and show how it helped our forebears to survive and build the BVI. The philosophy of rugged individualism states that people are expected to overcome problems and succeed by their own efforts. They are not dependent on help from government. It brings out the greatness of individual freedom in people. It is the path to individual and social happiness without government intervention. This philosophy guided B. V. Islanders in an age when the population was small and scattered over the Territory. There was little or no infrastructure in place, people dug wells to get water, people had to survive on their own. When the British released them from plantation life,
after they had drunk B. V. Islanders' sweat in their coffee for years, B. V. Islanders were set free to fend for themselves how they could. They were not even given a loaf of bread and a bottle of water as Abraham gave Hagar and Ishmael when Sarah sent them in the wilderness. It is from that lowly but dignified state of mind, of character, that B. V. Islanders succeeded in building their homeland through " bloody seas, up and down the salt seas, over hills and dales" fishing, ploughing land, sowing, and reaping, gathering food and fuel to prepare their meals.
Some of the qualities which constituted their rugged individualism were their self knowledge
as defined by Socrates, individualism, personal liberty, independence, self-reliance, resourcefulness, and self direction of free enterprise. I will discuss each of these qualities in later Wheatakes, but now I want you to understand the powerful effects of these qualities in the resolve of our forebears to survive. It enabled them to sail as far south as Trinidad and west as Cuba in boats built by their hands, from local timbers, without killing the trees that produced them. Daniel James Brown, tells us the value derived from such expeditions:" Harmony, balance, and rhythm, they are the things that stay with you, your whole life. Without them civilization is out of whack, and that is why an oarsman, when he goes out in life, he can fight it, he can handle it. That's what he gets from rowing." That drive enabled B. V. Islanders to harvest fish, burn charcoal, raise animsls on hoof for food, reap salt from the ponds on Salt Island for markets in USVI, weave straw into bags and hats, knit crochet, and design tenerife, take their wives in labour to the hospital in row boats.
They practised or advocated rugged individuslism as an integral part of their lives
stressing the strengths of the individual as the philosophy indicated, but laboured together to build boats, build houses, and plant vegetable gardens to meet their needs. Martin Luther King said: in his speech on 10 March.1968."This countty has socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor."
Sarah Josepha Stale said:
Rugged strength and radiant beauty, these are one in nature's plan, humble toil and heavenward duty, these will form the perfect man."
For our forebears it was"not a question of whether you will hurt, or how much you will hurt. It's a question of what you will do and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you."
Daniel James Brown.
Our rugged individualism today can help us to overcome the CoI recommendations and kill the dragons and the evil genius.
- Dr. Charles H. Wheatley.