Irma wanted to give us a nasty lash, but Something seems to be steering her further northward. Beware, female hurricanes like to change their minds; you never know.

To be fair, male hurricanes, mem bagai – look at how Harvey came back for a seconds! After all man, wasn’t it just last week Dominica officially launched major repairs on what Erica did to our west coast highway two years ago? We are hospitable people, but this just was not a good time for Irma to drop by.

Antigua is deadly serious in their hurricane preparations. I listened to Prime Minister Gaston Brown activating their disaster management services. It gave me chills! My heart goes out to our fellow CARICOM citizens. We have lots of Dominicans in Antigua. For some reason, any major catastrophe globally, Dominicans want to be in that number: 911, London’s Grenfell Tower fire and now, maybe Houston.

We pray that our families share the excitement of this reopening of school in the normal way. If we are spared the ill effects of Irma, how should we celebrate? Giving thanks and praise, of course! Let us also dig a little deeper and focus on some specific things we ought to do in order to become a more outstanding country.

1. DEVOTION
Dominica is not the only place to have more religion and spirituality. Indeed, we should give God his due in regular worship. The question is, are we finding creative ways to translate that love of God into genuine caring for our fellow man? I challenge churches: from time to time, take the service outside. Come with sneakers to focus on health of the temple of the Holy Spirit and – not just ‘cutting style’ with outer garments. I love singing and preaching, but believers can put ‘serve’ back in service by cleaning the community, feeding the poor, visiting the shut-in, (not only members of one’s own church). We can give thanks for deliverance from Irma by pushing the envelope in a bit more practical Christianity

2. DESIRE
What is it that we really want? The motto for my Urgent Care medical practice, is the Scripture, “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers. (III John: 2).” All of us wish for or desire a more vibrant economy. We are ashamed of being rock bottom of the OECS minimum wage scale. National prosperity means better jobs which will result in more self-esteem as we better provide for our families.

We desire our people be ‘strong and healthy.’ On that note, health in not limited to fighting biggies like diabetes, hypertension and cancer. We must be more assertive in tackling the troubling public health issues of our times. I desire above all things that Dominica not be highlighted internationally for murder, obesity, alcoholism and road fatalities.

I desire above all things that the Nature Isle, beyond eco-tourism, becomes more famous as the wellness destination of choice. We do that by promoting our wellness practitioners and leveraging our two amazing medical schools, Ross & All Saints. As we more effectively articulate that vision, we shall receive what we ask for.

3. DIALOGUE
I was shocked on returning home that there was hardly any reasoned discourse in the public square like when I grew up. Back then, ordinary citizens bravely voiced their opinions and let all ideas contend. Panel discussions and organized debates had been replaced by leaders hurling of mepuis from different radio stations and political platforms.

Talk show callers endlessly ‘preach to the choir’ and we continue to spin our wheels. Instead of using sound bytes, invite the guests themselves who may think differently from you. Open up the media, especially DBS, as stipulated by law. Maybe when one is in it all the time, the degeneration in dialogue is just not noticeable.

I have to ignore the hate as I try to reach out to ALL Dominicans regardless of colour or belief. A number of patients have stopped coming to my office because my efforts to reverse the backward tribalism that now consumes us.

Anyway, should Irma insist, we’re ready. Our Office of Disaster Management, emergency professionals and volunteers have been proactive and simply outstanding. Remain mindful that in a few days, it could be us groveling amidst debris and destruction, counting unthinkable losses. It could be us without the amenities of modern living, no portable water, no light, no wifi (OMG what would the children do?!…and big people too!) Instead, by focusing on devotion, desire and dialogue, we truly have a chance to sparkle!

Dr. Sam Christian of Urgent Care is a surgeon who writes on health and development-related topics. He can be reached at 440-9133, whatsapp 265-0886 or on his website http://urgentcareda.weebly.com/