As Barbadians enter November and a month of celebrations of the anniversary of nation’s attainment of political Independence from Britain in 1966, there are more than enough national issues that ought to compel us to focus on the significance of the occasion.
Certainly, few things will engage Barbadians as much in the immediate future as general elections, since even though Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has not announced a date for voting, he has without doubt signalled that the electioneering has begun.
But while the politicians will bend and strain every issue so it is reduced to a simple question of whether we should vote “B” or “D”, Barbadians would be well advised to think deeply before they arrive at such a decision.
For instance, is our treatment of the Raul Garcia matter one that can be reduced to a vote, or should it be a case for national introspection on how we view ourselves in the larger global picture and the maturity of our way of governance?
When we discuss our staggering multi-million-dollar food import bill, as we no doubt will during the campaign, is it simply a matter of how we have been governed over the last five years; or is it more a question of whether our independence of thought matches our boast of national Independence?
After a quarter century of “Eat Bajan”, “Buy Local”, “Eat what you grow and grow what you eat”, start a backyard garden — and a host of variations of these messages, should we not in this month of November look within ourselves for the answers rather than to any Government?
Then there is the matter of the Alexandra School turmoil, enquiry and now report: but is the issue really Alexandra, or how we have allow our education system to fall away from its previous high standards, while each year we pump more and more into it?
After the education initiatives of the 1960 and ’70 and all the “reforms” that have taken place since then, why are we apparently so incapable of developing a system of transfer from the primary to the secondary level that is far fairer, less traumatic, and more importantly offers each child at least a fighting chance to make the greatest use of his or her talents?
And while we consider the issues of youth within the context of Independence celebrations, we need to ask ourselves how we are going to frame the debate on moral standard, recognising that no matter how politically correct we seek to be, and no matter how many international charters we see ourselves as obligated to observe, there is a growing disregard for the mores that fortified our development and growth. It might also be prudent to add that each new generation appears to have a declining level of disregard for older generations that sought to emphasise these values.
How do we spout national Independence when we will no longer give a thought for our neighbours, when we rob and cheat without a second thought, when so often the haves could not spare a second thought for the have nots.
Fortunately, if the only things of significance for many of us are brightly lighted roundabouts, singing God bless Bim on Independence Day, and listening to old Bajan music while so many around us struggle to make ends meet, financially and otherwise, we have another chance to redeem ourselves. Before we can shout “lower de flag” it will be the season of love, joy and goodwill to all men — Christmas.
Oh, sorry, there is not much Jesus in that these day neither.