Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Changes in the Caribbean

This picture, taken in 1994 or 5 in Antigua, captures the transformation taking place in the islands--the blending of the old and the new, the past and the modern.
Donkeys are much less common than they were even 15 years ago. They used to be tied up along the road grazing in Dominica frequently but I've only seen one the last couple of visits. Now everyone has access to transportation--if they don't have a car there are taxi buses, which are very reasonable. Even farmers have their truck to carry produce back home. Picture an older man (70's) and a donkey with one half of an aluminum extension ladder and a burlap bag full of root crops, with a machete sticking out tied on to its back. 10 years ago that would not have been uncommon in say St. Vincent, but those days are past.
The house in the background departs from tradition in two aspects. First it is set on blocks, not rocks. I figure this change is agreeable to everyone--blocks keep the house a lot more stable than rocks can. Also it is of plywood, which is only a temporary house--the kind you build so you can move on to your land and stop paying rent while you build your permanent house out of blocks. If a hurricane comes you know this house is gone, but people take that chance because they have to--you can't get a mortgage to build a house, so you have to cut corners everywhere you can to get the house built.
The "good old days" are passing in the Caribbean, just as they have in the States. As Dana's Grandmother used to say, "You can call them the good old days, and I guess they were, but I don't want to go back to them." Ecclesiastes agrees with that--"Do not say, 'Why were the former days better than these?' For you do not inquire wisely concerning this." (7:10) How often do we long for "the good old days", when things were better. No doubt they were in some areas but in other areas we are much better off today.
Sometimes we get stuck in the glory years of the church of Christ--the 50's and early 60's, when we were the fastest growing church in the USA, when people would still attend Gospel meetings, learn the truth and be baptized. When we do this Solomon says we are not wise. We cannot live in the past, whether it was good or bad, but must live today. When we fail to adapt our methods of teaching or making contacts to today, the local church must eventually die.

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