Let us remember to practice the politics of nuance.


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten –– Nuance, the intelligence that emerges between Reason and Emotion, seems to be lacking these days after the devastating attacks in Paris. This brief intervention is one that seeks to remain faithful to nuance. In these dark times the fever of exclusive camp thinking (Us against Them) threatens to infest even our brightest minds.

In their zest to display their global knowledge, as in those who question why a Parisian life should weigh more than say a Kenyan (a country also reeling from lethal attacks by religious extremists), or spontaneous fellow feeling—those who say that an attack on Paris is an attack on all French and Saint Martinois living in Paris—intellectuals, politicians, journalists, and activists on Saint Martin & Sint Maarten run the risk of forgetting what solidarity entails. Solidarity is never exclusive. Such is camp thinking. And, this is what we get when some quarters claim that ‘we are the West and with the West’, while others retort ‘the West is the place that oppresses and cannibalizes the Rest’; Solidarity which is charity is far removed when one hears words like these uttered by our brightest minds.

Solidarity is always shared with the weak and threatened across ideological divides. Terms like the West and the Rest, The defenders of democracy and the terrorists, Us versus Them, give way to looking at and looking after those who will suffer when the power hungry dehumanize each other and lead most to forget the individuality of each other. We Saint Martinois and Sint Maarteners are not the victims of Paris, neither are we the ones in Kenya, Palestine, or Syria. We are not the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons or daughters, plunged into mourning. We are not, no matter how many times some of us have visited the French capital, or how many of us can claim a historical connection to the victims. What we are those people that today can and must stand with those weak persons, Muslim, Christian, secular, and whatever, that threaten to be victimized due to acts of revenge.

One can only hope that this will be the tone of the coming interventions by our brightest minds