From self-reliance to the loser-mentality

| 13/07/2012

The Cayman generations of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s and before were world-renowned for their self reliance and tenacity in the face of adversity. The men were sometimes called ‘iron-men’ who mastered ‘wooden ships’ and later some of the world’s largest super tanker and ore carriers. The strength and resilience of the women were reflected in their management of their family’s affairs, their child rearing skills and their instilling of strong values in their children.

Self reliance and strength of moral character were a key part of the Cayman psyche.

That was then but this is now.

Update to the second decade of the 21st century and the 'loser-mentality' has enveloped almost every aspect of our society, from top to bottom.

The change came relatively quickly during the 70’s 80’s and 90’s as the financial, real estate and tourism industries exploded. Those generations were not prepared for the sudden inflow of wealth and the educational requirements to compete in this new society.

Successive British administrators and later elected governments failed to have the foresight to predict the future needs of the country and its people. Caymanians wanted and deserved to stay at home and enjoy the new found wealth in their own country, rather than to traverse the oceans as seamen.

The sale of our lands and beaches brought instant wealth to many – a wealth that only a few managed to invest wisely, and only a minority managed to acquire the aggressive skills and educational background necessary to survive in this new economy.

By the late 90’s a good proportion of the then-generation had managed to acquire better educational backgrounds, many by studying abroad. They returned home full of excitement and enthusiasm only to find out that those who had helped to create the tourism, legal and financial industries were not as welcoming to locals into these industries as the locals had earlier welcomed them to Cayman to establish themselves and these industries in the country.

As the economic boom diminished, it is not surprising that discontent and crime increased rapidly as it has in the local population in the past 20 years.

We are at the beginning of the second decade of a new century and our situation has deteriorated beyond belief. Those that we welcomed to our country now own the best beaches, the best homes, the best jobs, and control the wealth that Caymanians believed they deserve and would have received.

There are many factors that brought us to where we are. So who do we blame for our plight? There is plenty of blame to go around, but the blame-game is a road that has no end, and will go on forever, and it will accomplish nothing but hatred and disharmony in the society.

My suggestion is that we blame no particular group or party. We stop targeting others for our misfortune. We examine where we are and look back at how we got here, but don’t waste our time or energy blaming others.

We need to look at ourselves individually and ask: ‘Do we still have any moral values? Do we have any pride left in our being? Are we self-reliant like our forefathers? Do we have the attitude that we can change the plight of our family and our country? How do we improve our own lives and the lives of those around us?’

As I said at the beginning, the loser-mentality has a stronghold in our society. Our moral character and spirit of self-reliance has for the most part been buried with our grand-parents and parents.

A large section of our population will apparently sell our souls for a few dollars, a new appliance here, a promise of a job there, a financial benefit or other gift in exchange for your vote. A special relationship with government that benefits ourselves, but we know that it is at the expense of the society generally.

These benefits of getting something for nothing, of gaining at the expense of our country, of a special deal that puts us at an advantage over our competitors are, my friends, the underbelly of corruption.

It does not matter how poor you are or how rich you are, YOU ARE A LOSER if you accept gifts from someone, whether it be a dollar or a special contract, in exchange for anything that benefits yourself and that someone in a position of trust.

We need to rise above this, otherwise our society will become so embedded with corruption that there will be no hope for our children’s future. We will become dependent on the bearer of gifts who have ulterior motives that will eventually harm us more than it helped us.

The greatest harm of all is that our moral values and spirit of self reliance will become just a memory of the greatest part of who we were, a long time ago.

We can do better than this, my friends. Start by not being tricked into believing that we can get something for nothing. We can individually rebuild our values and self- reliance one step at a time – no matter how poor or rich we are.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am quoting from a friend, a former resident who paid a visit, and who recently emailed me:

    "………….overall, I was distressed to see what was happening in Grand Cayman:rampant ill-planned development.  A frenetic chase for money. The lack of recycling is distressing- I imagine the economics are just not there. On the plus side- it was great to see old friends again and remember old times and a quieter Cayman".


  2. Anonymous says:

    I couldn’t agree more…. When I think back to the days of when cayman was a sweet and tranquil place and every one wanted to live here and I see where we are now I feel like crying. I’m tired of seeing my people and country in turmoil…. I vote yes for OMOV and I pray.

  3. Michel says:

    Thank you Ari Greenwood for your incredible viewpoint. Yes you are so right and me must take their example at this time. No it won't be easy but It's really back to the basics. God Bless you and your matter of fact message. Michel Lemay

  4. Realllytrulyscrumptiius says:

    By “world renowned” you surely mean “cayman renowned”.

  5. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    I agree with Mr. Greenwood's viewpoint, but unfortunately Cayman and Caymanians are not alone in this respect. For more on this and how it happens read Greg Palast's recent VULTURE'S PICNIC, and also John Perkin's CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HITMAN. You will see all the evidence of how the subversion of an economy and it's people takes place. Excellent piece Mr. Greenwood. There are solutions however, and it begins with getting rid of political influence and corruption. Above all making politicans accountable instead of hiding behind.."who me?" and "the boogey man did it.". Governments.. just like votes..can be bought. We see it and experience it everyday. We don't have to accept it or support it. OMOV is the beginning of this process. Whereby governments represent us and our welfare.. instead of being influenced by special interests. But it is only the beginning people need to stay informed. Because there is more democracy on CNS than evidenced in local government and all it's posturings. And a more intelligent viewpoint as witnessed by Mr. Greenwood's.

  6. Anonymous says:

    the first step is honesty and forget blaming hardworking expats……

  7. duncang says:

    10 Thumbs Up.  If the people of the Cayman Islands embraced the message in this Viewpoint, most of the issues facing them would disappear.

  8. Anonymous says:

     More correctly you are a LOSER if you compromise your morals and your ability to feed yourself and your family in the future, for frivolous immediate gratification.

    They are making millions or billions off of the people of these country while our education system remains horribly unsuccessful only producing no more than a handful of literate well-rounded citizens and the job market worsens day by day for even those.

    If you’re going to sell out, please get more than a six pack or even a fridge.

  9. Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Someone once said that we now need a Premier like what the Bahamas had.

      They went throught their rough patch for a while, but the Bahamas are now for Bahamians, make no mistake.

      To practice law, accountancy or engineering in the Bahamas one has to be Bahamian.

      And they are thriving.

      • Sykes says:

        They are thriving but not as much as Cayman. They have a similar handicap. The Chinese who have the largest contract in Bahamian history. Wonna go there?

      • Castor says:

        Think you can go down town Nassau? Check out the crime. All the better residential areas are gated communities.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I dont know you Ari Greenwood, but I am Caymanian to the bone and your piece is much appreaciated.

    • AA Milne says:

      I don’t know Ari Greenwood, but I would like to shake his hand.

      This is a masterly view point and should be compulsory reading in our schools, read out in all the churches on Sunday every week and tattooed to our MLA’s foreheads without the benefit of anaesthetic before next Wednesday

  11. Anonymous says:

    the first step is for caymanians to get rid their entitlement mentality…..
    you must learn to stand on your own 2 feet in the 21st century and be be able to compete in the global market….

    • Anonymous says:

      This is one of the best commentaries ever posted, in any of our local media – thank you A. Greenwood and thank you CNS. To the comment about standing on your own two feet, I am a Caymanian business owner, educated, open minded, welcoming, respectful and hardworking – I believe we are better off as diverse, cosmpolitan society. However, standing on our two feet is necessary and an urgent imperative, it alone will not be sufficient to allow us to compete and earn our place in the economy because the decision makers at the highest levels have, to a very large extent, a preference and motivation to hire expats. That is not to blame, just an observation based on the fact pattern. So yes, I agree – fellow Caymanians, stand up and honour the heritage of our forefathers – dignity, industriousness and a commitment to excellence, an unyielding adherence to our values,  self reliance even when it is as hard as working in the hot sun at high noon and most importantly, confidence that this country is ours to shape, build an sustain. We have not yet lost that – it is still OUR country. 

    • Angel of truth says:

      10:12 I am in the Cayman market, thats the only market i am concerned with, this global market fraud is just that fraud, its in the same basket as good governance,global warming,going green and such, just agendas i realise that the same countries and people telling you that you are corrupted have more than there share of corruption.

      At the end of the day the same ones telling you you have a entitlement mentality is the same ones bribeing government to get contracts and such, i guess even dart seem to think he is entitled to take our land and give us swamp, take our tax and still hire cheap labour XXXXX.

      i am not saying that ari Greenwood is not right in some ways but it is not that simple there are many reasons that the Cayman people are the way they are now, and we will not forget some of these reasons, its like you telling a rape victim or slaves to forget and move on because everything is ok now, far from ok because the same people that caused the problem is still around and there actions is still being felt, which makes our advantage more of a disadvantage, feeling entitled can mean more than people try to make it sound, we will not feel ashamed to let someone know that if i am qualified to do a job then i should get first preference over an xpat, just like i cant go to your country and demand anything ( you first ).

      Anyway i am aware of the type of mentality that we are dealing with in Cayman now, and the battle that will develope from it, i hope this will not happen but i dont think anything will change untill the people cannot take it anymore, this happens all over the world and it will happen here also ,there is very few places to run to now.

      What was hidden is now known.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Well said Ari, nothing to add to this article, every word mentioned is so true. We need people with your kind of thinking to help run this country, please come forward in 2013.

  13. oscar says:

    My sentiments, exactly.  I listened to the debate last night and heard a woman, obviously upset, reminding an MLA on how he reacted to her when she lost her job a few years back.  If her reaction is shared by most Caymanians when they’re faced with difficulties, then this nation is really spiraling down.  When you’re laid off, be it your fault or not, for any reason at all, you don’t go blaming people or the government for your sad plight.  You just go and find another job.  You don’t sulk and whine and say, ‘poor little me.’  You just have to find a decent way to feed your family.  That means looking for a job here or anywhere.


    I am appalled whenever I hear some of our fellow Caymanians say that they should have the jobs here and not the foreign workers, like they’re being robbed of their God-given right to have jobs.  Hello?  The world is a smaller place now because of globalization.  Employers are using the internet to hire people anywhere and everywhere.   Expect to see people from anywhere in the world to work here.  And the people from those other parts of the world are expecting to see Caymanians live and work in their part of the world.  Should we be different from the rest of the world?   


    We feel that this country is so blessed that we can just wait in our homes and receive $10,000 to pay for electricity, water, food, rent, etc.  Hey, that amount that Mac is giving you is not like manna from heaven.  It came from the taxes we pay on everything just to be able to live and work in these islands.  Nothing comes for free.  Even good ‘ol Mac certainly knows that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point about the woman who had lost her job. The woman is from a multi-member district where she has four representatives one of which is the PREMIER and another is the Minister of EMPLOYMENT, is on record as saying that having multiple representatives is the great merit of the present system yet she chose to go to an independent backbench MLA from a single member constituency in another district for help. The obvious question is why? Clearly she must have felt that an MLA in a single member constituency would be more accessible and responsive which is Ezzard's point about single member constituencies. It was astounding that with HER representative the Minister of EMPLOYMENT present on the panel she chose instead to vent her frustration on a backbench MLA who is not even her MLA. It is difficult to believe that this was not politically staged.     

      • YouAreSpotOn says:

        Your last sentence is right on the money. She has all of a sudden appeared out of the woodwork in the past couple of weeks as a self-professed representative of the "word on the street about One Man One Vote" in West Bay.  What the hell does One Man One Vote have to do with her job loss? She has a "what is it going to do for me" attitude instead of recognizing the equality that it will bring for all. Very selfish.

        This is the same woman who recently, both at a recent OMOV meeting in West Bay and during a call into the Rooster morning talk show, said that police should not be allowed to urine test suspected drug users! Need I say more.

        • Anonymous says:

          Take a fresh look at the list on recipients of Nation Building Funds.

      • catherine willows says:

        I guess it was hard for her to find any one of her 4 representatives so she harped on MLA Miller instead.  Caymanians should really think long and hard on how they want to be represented.  Their constituents issues, not the party head's opinion, should be presented in  the parliament.  


        It was dumb-founding, if not comical,  to hear Mr. Solomon last night defending his stand on how the government is paying for the NO vote to OMOV advertisements.  He proudly said that that's educating the public on how to vote.  


        Mr. Solomon, as confused and confusing as you are, the media exposure of the government is MISEDUCATING the public on what to cast on their votes.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Excellent and sadly so ver true!!!!

  15. GR says:

    Well said!

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is an excellent Viewpoint. Thank you.

    Accepting that you are in any way a loser becomes a self-fulling prophecy. Once you believe that you are a loser, inevitably you will become one.