Barbados’ main church has given politicians a dressing down for what it sees as
rhetoric in these tough economic times, and has called on representatives from both
sides to tone it down.
Stating that the church was concerned about the socio-economic circumstances
of the island, Anglican Bishop Dr John Holder and the Advocacy and Social Justice
Commission said that now was not a time to give up, but to place trust in God.
“In the meantime,” the statement said, “we remind parliamentarians from both sides
of the political divide that we are all Barbadians. Leaders need to tone down the rhetoric
and refrain from saying or doing anything which creates anxiety and despair.”
The religious leaders continued: “Instead, they should work together to find solutions
to the problems which our nation faces. One-upmanship and selfish actions will only
serve to fracture the society at a time when unity is required. Of course, this must not
be interpreted as a request for persons or organizations not to criticize, for Barbados is
a democracy, and constructive criticism is both necessary and healthy.
“What we are suggesting, though, is that we must be responsible enough to exercise
restraint in our words and actions. Let us wrap ourselves in the National Flag.”
In the face of what it termed “grinding poverty and oppression”, the Archbishop of
the West Indies and the Social Justice Commission asked the public to reflect on the
fact that Barbadians in earlier times fought against the odds and laid the foundation for
the quality of life now enjoyed by all. This was something to be proud of, they stated,
and Barbadians now must show they were capable of peacefully getting as this economic
setback to rebuild a prosperous nation.
“We note the negative report card given to Barbados by the International Monetary
Fund and a number of local economists. While we need to pay attention to what
international agencies and others have to say about our economy, we would do well to
remember that we do have some control over our destiny. What we must not do is to
throw up our hands in despair and just wait for the IMF’s dire forecast to be realized.
Rather, we should use the unfavourable assessment as motivation to redouble our
efforts to prove the predictions wrong.
“More than anything else, the people of this fair land need to feel that there is hope.
We, therefore, urge the Government to speak clearly and frankly to us at regular
intervals and help us to feel confident that well thought out steps are being taken to turn
around our economic and social fortunes.”
The church reaffirmed its belief that the island could ride out this period, by
reexamining the systems and structures and ensuring that those who feel marginalized
were given the opportunity to be prosperous.
Holder and the commission reminded Bajans of God’s love and control over all
things, and cautioned against taking irresponsible actions that could further erode public
confidence and make recovery difficult.