The tipping point?

| 18/05/2011

Something has been bugging me for quite some time, but I really couldn’t put my finger on what exactly it was until recently when somebody told me about a favor they “called in” which resulted in this individual being able to short-cut the usual red tape to get results more quickly than if the standard procedure and process would have been followed.

So here we are complaining in one breath about the lack of regulations, rules and law enforcement, but bending the rules and ignoring the law when it suits has become a way of life for all of us. Many seem to even have refined the art of “short-cutting” or ignoring the law and pride themselves accordingly. The list of “short-cutting” or “law ignorance” is endless and runs rampant amongst all walks of life. Surely it would be nice to eat conch all year round (who needs a season?) and not be bothered with those pesky little speed signs or build a house however and wherever – why need planning approval and all that?

But are we prepared to deal with the consequences of making our own rules and only follow the law occasionally? It now seems evident more than ever that all the favor giving and taking and ignoring the laws has resulted in a lawless society (except if we are talking about murder or drug dealing, of course). Otherwise, we are truly spinning out of control.

No, I haven’t been living on the moon, and yes, I am aware that we have been provided with some shockingly embarrassing and sad examples when considering the majority of the current elected officials and some high ranking civil servants, but my letter is not really about them (plenty is written about this issue on a daily basis already). This letter is truly about US!

There have been so many loud calls for the laws to be upheld and processes to be followed, but are we also willing to do our part and follow those regulations and laws even on those days it may be inconvenient? Can we resist the lure of taking a short-cut and ignoring the law, especially when we are provided with so many examples in the public eye every day how to do it, or do we continue to throw it all away to immediately satisfy a want or need or for the short lived feeling of having gotten ahead? We obviously have reached a “tipping point” and decisions will need to be made.

A tipping point can be described as a point at which an object is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a new, different state. I guess it could be a better or a worse state. Clearly, we are not “objects” but we are obviously no longer in a stable equilibrium and we need to decide whether we want to revert to this stable equilibrium, or do we want to continue on the path we are on?

Surely, individually considered, the “offense” of harvesting conch outside the season or parking in a handicapped parking spot doesn’t stack high when compared to many of the other offenses taking place, but it does breed a certain disrespect for the laws, authorities and especially for each other. Chances are that our children are learning by our bad example to ignore the rules and law and therefore there doesn’t seem to be much hope for changes in the future.

Before people get upset, I want to clarify that I am not trying to say just because you are ignoring the speed limit you are a bad person or a criminal all around, but you are certainly not helping to make things any better, are you? Overall, it does make me wonder how time after time people continue to expect a different outcome if they are not prepared to change what they put in.

I am sure some of you are quick to point to the Government and several high ranking civil servants and some of the associated recent headlines. However, we need to reverse this mentality of “What is good for the goose is good for the gander” and consider any and every action taken and hopefully decide that the ethical high road is the better one to travel on. 

For example, a lot of folks were recently upset that the Government paved private driveways or business parking lots in the Brac.  I, however, believe we should have been upset with those individuals who accepted those favors to begin with as we all know by now we really can’t expect any morals from the current Government anyway. The majority of people quickly pointed to the Government and blamed them for this clearly wrong action, but what about those people who accepted those favors? Did anyone give them a little piece of their mind? The Government can’t give  favors if the favors are rejected or not accepted, but seemingly too many of us are still eagerly taking the favors and hand outs because it was seemingly free of charge – but was it really free of charge?

I don’t want to portray myself as a goodie-two-shoe person and in no way am I an expert on the laws of these Islands. Obviously, I haven’t lived the last 40 something years always taking the ethical high road, and I also have been caught speeding on occasions, but I am trying to have some basic knowledge of the various laws and if all fails, I apply an ethical principle my parents taught me 40 odd years ago:

“Would it still be ok to be doing something if everyone else who is living in these Islands would be doing the same”?

I imagine what these Islands would look like if EVERYONE would throw their garbage out the car window, or if EVERYONE would park their ‘for sale’ vehicles along the shoulder of public roads or if EVERYONE would expect and accept handouts and favors. I wonder what would happen if we all ignore the set-back requirements when building our home or if EVERYONE would rush to the planning department or immigration department asking that our applications are processed ahead of everyone else’s. I am sure many would be quick again to point out that if the Government would do better and if planning and immigration wouldn’t be so inefficient you would be inclined to follow proper process, or has planning and immigration perhaps gotten so inefficient because so many people are pushing for favors?

I admit, it is somewhat of a “chicken vs the egg” situation and it is frustrating to see how others seemingly get ahead by ignoring the laws or banking on favors, but where is it getting us all in the long run? Well, it has gotten us to where we are now. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like it. We want SOMEONE to uphold the law and rules, but any given day we are not prepared to follow them.

Perhaps if in doubt apply the principle I set out above, and I am certain that the majority of us would come to a conclusion that rules, regulations and laws do exist for a reason. (Well, in the majority of cases anyway – we all know there are always exceptions!) We cannot, however, expect that those rules, regulations and laws are just for others and not for us – even on those days when it is inconvenient. I am prepared to put in what I want to get out. Are you?

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Comments (21)

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  1. A Civil Servant that Escaped says:

    "I, however, believe we should have been upset with those individuals who accepted those favors to begin with as we all know by now we really can’t expect any morals from the current Government anyway."

    I would just like to add that at the end of the day, successive governments are all the same … we can't expect any morals from any of them. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your viewpoint is interesting but tell me, many of the shop owners wrote cheques and tried to pay the government for the work that was done and yet the government refused to accept it. The story is that if they accepted the money they would be a competing business and since they didn’t have a business license they couldn’t charge.

    I wish people would get their facts straight before accusing people of unethical behavior. I would even venture to say that the majority of owners are more ethical than your 40 odd years of upbringing would allow you to be.

    To the poster that asked why PPM hasn’t said anything… Really, why would they not support something that has been needed for 30 plus years? If you ask them, they probably don’t like the priority that was given to certain businesses/churches as opposed to taking care of the tourist destinations but no one would disagree that the paving is needed. I do want to comment though… In about 5 years, it will need to be redone because a proper job was not done like Arden did when building the roads in Cayman. Maybe Julianna doesn’t know how to build a proper road?

  3. Rorschach says:


      Everybody want to go to heaven, but nobody want to die…..

  4. warmwood says:

    oh boy… I was hoping you didn't say that

  5. Invisible says:

    Forget about calling in a favour tojump the queue. I have been in situations where if you don't know anyone, you can't get anything done because all that happens is you get ignored. This is something I have not experienced elsewhere (yes, I am an expat).

  6. BSA says:

    Great viewpoint Sweet Pea.  Changes will only happen when we each take a personal stance to do the right thing, no matter how insignificant it may seem, the eventual effect will have a positive outcome in the long term.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well written, well said.

    If each of us looked in the mirror you would find what the biggest problem is with this country.  ME!  Each of us are to blame for the mess we are in.

    Politics is destroying this country.  Blind loyalty to one gang or another just like street thugs is contaminating the airwaves.

    The Cayman Brac example is the best of all.  Why is it that you never ever hear Kurt Tibbetts or more importantly Moses Kirkconnell complain about the paving on the Brac?  NEVER!

    They NEVER complained about the Hurricane Hilton or the tons of new roads.

    Is it that Alden and Moses are on different wavelengths?  Or is Moses and Kurt happy that their supporters and family members and friends are benefiting and hence won't complain.  

    Yet, the rest of the PPM Grand Cayman mob are fllooding the airwaves and blogs to downcry the paving etc.

    Now I think it's alot of waste of money going on but their's no bigger waste than the hot air being blown from political cronies on both sides. I swear these parties will be the destruction of Cayman if we don't take a stand soon.

  8. Anonymous says:

    And that in a nut shell is the reason that the Government can get away with no financial accountability, no respect for the laws and rules and no responsibility for their actions.  Because not enough of the people expect them too.  As long as they get their free gas, jobs with no responsibilities, free health care, free garbage pick up, cars, refridgerators, and ability to function apart from the part of society that pays for it allthey are happy.  That is the Cayman of yesterday, today, and all the tomorrows till the bill is due and CIG can no longer pay the bills and paychecks which from all indications shouldn't be too long now.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This reade has finally hit it on the head when it comes to petty crime.  People all over these islands (locals and expats a like) think that they can do certian things and it doesn't cause problems.  Things like littering, parking in places where you aren't supposed to, taking conch out of season, obeying traffic laws, getting special favors…etc….etc…etc….

    One does not get special consideration if they are from certain parts of the world or if you grew up here.  I constantly see people litter and park in places they aren't supposed to because it's not that big of a deal.  The issue is that Cayman isn't the sleepy little place it used to be and these sort of things start to add up over time.  It causes expentancy and equality issues constantly.  I think many of the issues that we have in this small place occur because certain "short cuts" or allowing the attitude that "I will only be a minute" to occur.  It causes issues when people think that that the rules don't apply to them.  I am constantly amazed when I drive by the school yards and see the amount of litter that students throw on the school grounds.  This is just another example of people not taking pride in themselves or their surroundings.  This is because these petty crimes are not enforced and this is what causes entitlement issues.  From the time we are very small babies we see how our parents interact with the world around them and every single experience teaches them something.  It's not just "this one time" it becomes an additive problem that only gets bigger and bigger and I think we are only starting to see the begining of it now………


  10. Anonymous says:

    The writer hit the nail on the head. It starts with "me" – whether for good or bad. I know many CNS 'commentators' do not like Christianity, but it is not too late to heed the Biblical call to "stop doing wrong, learn to do right".

    • Janice says:

      My friend, that is not only taught in the Bible. The Lord has given us good ole COMMON SENSE!

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you SURE?

        • Janice says:

          Oh I am SURE!  Because I am not a NUT CASE!  Only people who can't think for themselves or doubt it, need someone else to think for them and turn them into sheep. I know for a fact that I have "GOOD" COMMONSENSE, because the only one who can define what is GOOD, is me and no else, because no one else knows me better than ME.  

    • Anonymous says:

      That is not a clever remark.

      The ones that bypass the law are the ones sitting on the front row in church. Same goes for the politician that make it happen.

      Everybody knows, if you want something or you could get it, you call XXXX and it will be taken care of.

      I see it happen all the time.

  11. senior citizen says:

    There are many signs and bad omens of a coming tropical storm or natural disaster, and I am not just talking about ants seeking higher ground, crabs coming out of their holes, and birds migrating at odd hours in the night. As a fisherman, I have heard of the story of the properous city of Port Royal, situated in Kingston, Jamaica. Children, if you have ever read about Port Royal, you will see how a Morgan, a pirate was knight by the Crown and made Governor of the city, and how the city became so lawless and wicked that to this date, history records that 3/4 of the city sank because of its immorality. Anyone who thinks that immorality has no effect on nature, should think again! Just like when you go fishing and see how the moon controls the sea from high to low tide, the stars and omens in nature do give us signs. Like a spider wed, everything in nature is effect by what we do. Cayman need to strive to live good, moral, and decent lives. we need to stop robberies, burglary, and attend to our children and grandchildren. The Bible, Koran, and other books talk about "reaping what you sow" in life. It is true! I have seen with my own eyes, the "tables turn" many times and misfortune fall on people's children because they lived crooked lives. Even the Almighty God in heaven cannot change karma and its consequences. Maybe I am too old and superstitous, but that is what my grandmother taught me from a very young age:  hurricanes and natural disasters don't come our way for no reason – we cause them to come to us

    • Anonymous says:

      So it was what, the prevalence of odd pronography fetishes in Japan that brought about their earthquake, the voodoo in Haiti and the gays in San Francisco? Were the tornados in the South of the US from their sinfully delicious BBQ? Spain just had an earthquake – must be from allowing bull fighting. It all clearly has nothing to do with geophysical location and conditions, which lead to higher probability for certain natural disasters to occur. That explanation would just be preposterous!

    • Go back and fish! says:


    • demonite says:

      Lol…  I guess you can build an ARK now and wait for it to rain

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree 100% – you do reap what you sow.  Do bad and you will eventually receive bad.  Do good and you will eventually receive good back.  Until we all refuse to try to shortcut the system, stop selling your vote for a washing machine or whatever and really listen to what people say when they campaign and watch and see whether their words match their actions, we will continue on the path of destruction.