We know that our children who are or were involved in scouting, guiding or the cadet movement know the National Anthem of Barbados and understand clearly that we must always show respect when it is sung or played. But could it be that those of us who were never part of one of these organisation somehow never got the message?
We doubt it!
So what is the problem? Why is it that daily we see this total lack of respect for the symbols of who we are — for those emblems that speak to our nationhood?
We use yesterday’s Soca Royale at Bushy park as a reference point, but it is certainly not intended to suggest that what we complain about was peculiar to this event.
We really do not understand what has happened to our society that the National Anthem is started and so many in the audience seem not to recognise it. Yesterday, when the Anthem started at Bushy park it could as well have been Soca Kartel’s Ready Again, being belted from the speaker system.
While the vast majority stood — even if not at attention — a still huge number remained seated on the grass, or engaged in talking, laughing, dragging coolers and all manner of offensive conduct. Even if an individual had been engaged in some activity and did not realise that the anthem had started, once that person recognised that the majority had paused in respect, something ought to have clicked in.
But no, some parents continued walking to their planned destination at Bushy park, with the children in tow, in the process reinforcing in the minds of the little ones that there is really no need to pause for a moment in respect of the National Anthem.
The sad thing is that it is becoming so widespread we all ought to be concerned. Yes, patriotism and respect for the nation and its symbols ought to come from within, but can those of us who are a little older remember the days when you would get a stern talking to from the observant policeman when you dared to show such disrespect?
Some may see it as a stretch, but we really do believe that it is that lack of pride in who we are and our obligations to brother and country that allow us to so easily disrespect the property and person of others. When you have pride in yourself and you are proud of your country, you respect the law and those who enforce it, even if you have a difficulty with an individual member of a law enforcement agency and his or her conduct.
When we have pride in country and in who we are, we don’t show it by being prone to violence, we feel a sense of guilt when we are about to litter, we pause when we are about to waste state resources, we feel pangs of conscience when we are about to deface some national symbol or property.
When we understand and appreciate why we have adopted the words that make up our National Anthem there are certain things we will not do.
These words ought to have real meaning for all Barbadians:
In plenty and in time of need
When this fair land was young
Our brave forefathers sowed the seed
From which our pride is sprung
A pride that makes no wanton boast
Of what it has withstood
That binds our hearts from coast to coast
The pride of nationhood
We loyal sons and daughters all
Do hereby make it known
These fields and hills beyond recall
Are now our very own
We write our names on history’s page
With expectations great
Strict guardians of our heritage
Firm craftsmen of our fate
The Lord has been the people’s guide
For past three hundred years
With him still on the people’s side
We have no doubts or fears
Upward and onward we shall go
Inspired, exulting, free
And greater will our nation grow
In strength and unity
perhaps it is time, particularly in this period of challenge, for us all to keep repeating these words, until we see them flash before our eyes in our every activity.