Resolving Unspoken Wounds

Letter to the Editor:

I am a firm believer of the truth — that it will prevail and in time will “come out in the wash.”

There are deep and painful lessons being presented to our community in this incident — not only for the individuals directly involved, but for us as a diverse community.

I have known Bob Sells for many years.

He tends to be a direct guy, verbally sharing his opinions openly.

Sometimes, like most of us, he could learn to be more sensitive to others perspective; perhaps think more before he speaks — in fact, learn to say nothing at times when others are over-reacting and even “emoting.” Some people view Bob as a “hot-head.”

Is Bob Sells a racist? I sincerely think not.

I am disappointed and greatly concerned that this incident has escalated to this degree!

Many St. Johnians of many different racial and cultural backgrounds have felt it best little be said about this entire issue — that it would “go away.” There seemed to be a childish “tick for tack” emotionally immature tone to the manner in which both parties interacted — or more appropriately “over-reacted” to each other. To think that it could have escalated to burnt buildings and alleged rape seems unbelievable!

There is a cultural norm that says “mind your own business.” There are times when I feel this norm is appropriate for a small island where too many people can infringe upon an individual’s need to independently solve their own personal problems. At other times it has cultivated an unhealthy attitude where it has kept our society “secret”; kept us from growing; becoming better people and taking responsibility for each others best interests.

At this point, it is time for people to appropriately speak up with the truth as they see it in regards to the individuals involved in this issue which has become serious to the point where an individual may be sentenced to five years in prison.

There is a part of our community that carries misplaced resentment and anger towards “continentals.”

I understand why that is. Anyone with compassion and an understanding of our V.I. island’s past brutal history will see why that is so.

These are not excuses — this is about facts. Legitimate emotional issues here have been ignored for a long time by many people — particularly “Continentals.” This is sometimes viewed as disrespectful by natives, and it truly is! To minimize the struggles of this island and the emotional impact of the past is ignorance. It does not surprise me that it has now erupted and shown itself in this incident!

Add to that our present state of affairs on St. John — where “state-siders” are coming in to buy up land for investment purposes only has also deeply concerned many of us of all backgrounds!

These factors have created an “emotionally charged” community.

I have personally felt and been victimized by racial slurs in my many years here by a few lost souls.

My conclusion is that these slurs said more about the person calling me them than it did about me personally. A quiet “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” becomes an appropriate prayer.

For us to react to this anger with anger is not helpful to the situation. That I know for sure.

However, there are times when we can no longer tolerate this kind of racism either — again, born out of ignorance and distortion. It is hurtful to be do your best as a person to be courteous; compassionate; supportive; understanding — to try your best to be a good community brother or sister yet still be attacked verbally. There is a kind of “resentment” that has become a scourge — it carries with it unfairness — and it is experienced in so many segments of our V.I. society.

As people, we must keep the course and “Be love.” There is a spiritual teaching called “Course in Miracles” where it is said that the holiest place on earth is where an ancient wound has been healed — this is where the past meets the present. It feels like St. John is being offered this challenge. Our present and the ugliness of the past is meeting in time to be acknowledged and healed.

This unfortunate incident of the past year is reflective of this — mirroring to us as a community — the need to look deeply at ourselves, transcending our cultural division to the core of our character to seek truth.

Unfortunately, our community has not been given the FBI’s investigative report.

Perhaps these issues are surfacing because we NEED to face it — not with judgment, divisiveness or retaliation, but with a commitment as conscious, whole human beings to come to the truth about what our problems are. This requires each one of us look inside and “clean house.”

Whoever burned Bob’s vehicle and his business did a horrible act to our community. That burned building is a glaring wound about us and our need to take a deep and honest look at ourselves as cultures in conflict needing to heal. Conflict is a part of life. HOW we learn to deal with conflict must be addressed.

This IS everybody’s business…our community’s business…to resolve who did this, as well as how we resolve these unspoken wounds. This issue cuts to the heart of St. John.

How we live together as a community, no matter what our cultural heritage or economical status, will define our future.

I believe that good people from many backgrounds — continentals, born-here natives, long-timers, short-timers, down-islanders (we as a community have had numerous descriptions throughout the years) must rise to the truth.

A good way to do that is by writing letters to the appropriate people who are responsible in sifting through the facts, so that justice can prevail in this matter.

It is our responsibility as good citizens, no matter what our background to do this NOW.

This “open wound” on Love City needs us all to come together and heal it.

Bonny Corbeil