82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, March 20, 2023


I have no right to write. I know that. It's not that my life had been sanctioned by birth. I claim no property rights, make no demands, articulate no perogatives, exercise no privilege. I left my "adopted" home. I'm gone. More important, relevant stories need to be heard.
If I may, though, I want to speak for my son Jozef, native-born St. Thomian. He carries with him to this day, even in this climate of snow-crusted northwestern Pennsylvania, the easy light of Caribbean mornings. At night, when he sleeps, I hear in his breathing the season of Christmas winds.
What I mean to say is that through him I know that there is hope. It is real, tangible, strong, able to bear all storms. In short, life is good for people that are good. I'm not talking perfect here, but good.
What has this to do with the Virgin Islands? A lot, I think. And I hope this is not just nostalgia or selective memory speaking.
There are many blessings in the land named for many saints. I think that, beyond or in spite of any individual personalities, there is a spirit of ready acceptance, initially, in the smiles, in the "good mornin's," in the ordinary exchanges of the overwhelming majority of people. Troubles? Sure. Anxieties? You betcha. Dread? Maybe so.
What I'd like to say here is that the current economic stress, the current crime and corruption sprees, the underlying greediness of many, are all storms. Virgin Islanders weather storms. They don't like them. But they do survive. They have experience and can trust that.
A new government is in place. I won't presume to enter a discussion of issues or promises or platforms. But I want to say this. I know some of these people. I've sat next to Charles Turnbull at Faculty Senate meetings at the University of the Virgin Islands and was impressed with the dignity in which he conducted himself, his attentiveness, his genuine concern for a fair and honorable solution for the problems posed. I was on the hiring committee that selected Ruby Simmonds as a faculty member and observed her with students and colleagues. Waited, like others, when she went away to complete her Ph.D. studies and saw what good work she did when she returned. On a number of occasions I spoke with Dr. Wilbur Callender, my wife's physican. He delivered my son, and we had a surprising "man to man" talk afterward. These are good people.
I know nothing first hand now of life in St. Thomas. My voice doesn't really have a right to be heard. I am an outside child. My son, though, well, maybe that's another matter.
Editor's note: Dr. Joseph Lisowski taught at UVI from 1986-96. Leaving the university as a tenured, full professor of English was, he says, probably the hardest decision he ever had to make.

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