[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post‘s Weekender Edition.]
Modern Vanuatu society expresses its values three ways: through kastom, the law and the church. If we reflect honestly on each of them, we have to admit that not one is ideally implemented. Nonetheless, each is inextricably woven into our identity, and thus bound to the other two.
It’s sometimes tempting to think about the tension between each of these influences in exclusive terms, to assume that certain things belong in one domain and therefore not in another. When the chief, the policeman and the pastor don their respective robes of office, we think we see a clear distinction.
But as with all things, the differences are far clearer in the abstract than in real life.