I mentioned in Wheatake 33 that Self-Reliance is one of the ingredients of the rugged individualism which was the"wind beneath the wings of our forebears." They built the local craft known as the "Tortola Boat" from locally grown wood for the timbers without killing the trees that produced them. They never put a plan on paper but they kept a mental imprint of the craft they were building. Before the fishermen could buy imported wire to make their fish traps they made them from local plants. Whether it was building a boat or weaving a fishtrap our forebears relied on their own judgment, they made their own choices about ùthe material they used and never depended on the advice of someone else. They were confident about whatever they undertook to do. This act of relying on oneself is at the heart of Self-Reliance. The attributes of self-reliance which we have been taught to guide us are thinking independently, trusting your own instinct , embracing your own individuality, and striving to achieve your set goals. Charlotte Bronte said, "I am no bird, and no net ensnares me, I am a free human being with an independent will."
That will some teachers kill in the classroom by telling students what to think and how to think.
If my great grandfather would visit the B. V. I. today he would laugh at the yoke that has been reinstituted to guide us like a horse bit. Someone who knows nothing about the intricacies of our heritage is empowered to lead us. I have confidence in and can exercise my powers and judgments ethically without outside domination. Christopher Robin reminds you that you are"always braver than you believe, stronger than you seem , and smarter than you think." The main things to remember are to trust yourself to change your world, resist conformity, rely on Divine Providence, acknowledge the self-reliance in you, accept yourself, be your own best friend, and develop the ability to feel confident in yourself.
It was the power of self-reliance that empowered fifteen hundred B. V. Islanders to descend on the residence of the Commissioner and deliver a petition demanding freedom. It was the power of self-reliance that inspired the first four elected membrrs in 1950 to face the electorate that had not seen the ballot box for forty-eight years. It was the power of self-reliance which motivated the legislators for seventeen years(1950-1967) to achieve internal self-government which today is diluted with greed, materialism, and a lust for power by hook or crook. We need people today with a strong sense of self reliance, who are dedicated to putting the needs of the Territory before self, to kill the dragons not nourish them and to love your neighbour as yourself. "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves." Marie Currie.
- Dr. Charles H. Wheatley