I enjoyed Donna Every’s article New wine skins needed, which appeared in the July 12 issue of your newspaper and I agree that we should always be examining our traditions and the why and the how of the things we do. But…
Ms. Every’s views on the wearing of enclosed shoes by school children in Barbados ignores very important public health reasons for doing so. Enclosed shoes provide some measure of protection against chigoe fleas or jiggers that live in the soil and cause great irritation by burrowing into exposed feet to lay their eggs. Hopefully, these fleas are a thing of the past.
Enclosed shoes also provide some protection from hook worms and other parasites, from leptospirosis and other diseases that are contracted by walking barefooted through water contaminated with faeces or with the urine of rats and dogs; and, especially important for diabetics, they also offer protection from cuts and abrasions that may serve as the entry point for infection.
Unless we are convinced that our standards of public hygiene and health care have eliminated these threats to the wellbeing of our society then wearing enclosed shoes is a proper precaution.
I hope that I am not misinterpreting her comments on the Westminster parliamentary system of government but when she writes that it “… takes the (supposedly) best leaders in the country and splits them between parties rather than creating a system of government that brings together the best brains and the best leaders ….” it seems to me that she is calling for a one-party state or at least a one-party dominant state.
The history of one-party states shows that this would be the worst thing that could happen to Barbados. In so small a society it would lead rapidly to the erosion of our democracy, the rights of our citizens and the respect for the rule of law. As Churchill reminded us two years after losing the 1945 election: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
The presidential system of government, as practised in the US or Guyana for example, has not proven to be any less divisive or more effective than the Westminster system.
The open fermenting of opposing ideas and contending views on appropriate policies is the best way to take our country forward; a one-party state is not.
If instead of a one-party state she is proposing a coalition government there is a case, though not a very strong one, to be made.
I leave you another of Churchill’s observations to ponder: “A love of tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril; but the new view must come, the world must roll forward.”
— Winston Cox
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