Many are they who join organizations to see what they can be; there is no shortage of persons of that mindset. A much smaller number of persons join organizations to see what they can do . . . .
–– Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
It is into the latter category that the Prime Minister places our latest Dame Commander Of The Order Of The British Empire Maizie Barker-Welch. And not without excellent cause.
That Dame Maizie has spent more time doing for others than focusing on herself –– as proffered by Mr Stuart –– is without a doubt. Those of us who have have dealt with her as teacher, politician and Member of Parliament, social worker and women’s rights advocate, senior citizens exemplar, and as a lady, would have come to experience a distinctively profound pleasure that reposes in one for the mere giving of service to another –– without public form and unruly fanfare.
In a way, at Sunday night’s ceremony of honour in her name by the Democratic League of Women at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Dame Maizie was once more being rewarded in public for what for many years she had practised in private: acts of kindness and humanity –– noticed yet not vulgarly thrown into the limelight.
When deserving people are so highly rewarded in public, it is rarely for something they have done for the very first time. Usually, it is for deeds they have performed well, by way of practice –– much practice; years and years of it, without the selfish and specific goal of recognition, but for the contentment of having made a brother’s or sister’s life well worth living.
The Prime Minister was moved to observe that in Barbados of late “there are people . . . who, before they concentrate on service, give their focus disproportionately to their own elevation and the attraction of titles and aggrandizement for themselves”. And we are correspondingly stirred to note that our political system has not been exactly exempt from conspiracy to accommodate such egotists, narcissists, and egocentrics in our midst over the years.
Given Sunday night’s observation by the Prime Minister, we aver that he and we are on the same page on this matter of national rewarding, in whatever form or size it might come: that care has to be taken that people so recognized are deserving by their honourable practices of good and benefit to fellow man and country.
And as we reflect on such nobleness, we must perish the thought that reward is the society’s to confer upon the loyal lackey, sycophant and political backscratcher. The national recognition of such a pathetic lot undermines and demeans the acknowledgment of the good others do –– especially by the many “unsung heroes” whose selflessness and contribution to community and country miss the attention of officialdom.
Not that many of the do-gooders mind particularly. The absence of awards or public reward is no detriment to their benefaction; to being the best they can be to neighbour and stranger within their gates. Surely, not everyone is in “social work” for the recognition or public reward.
Some genuine lovers of country would even turn such celebration down –– not interested in glory-seeking nor being the publicity hound. They would rather have their reward from on High, cementing that private and confidential relationship with their Saviour and the Father, ever mindful that “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, this you have done unto Me” (Matthew 25:40).
More than ever now, we need people, who Prime Minister Stuart has described as “committed to giving to country”, for, as he argues,
“whenever a country reaches the stage where people are more concerned with what they can get out . . . when the freedom we seek is freedom
from responsibility, that is when the graph of a country begins to point downward”.
We may all draw from the values of Dame Maizie and her unrequited love for service to community, giving of her best without conditions and
for promise of nothing –– doing her utmost too because of personal pride.
Sir Walter Scott challenges us: “The race of mankind would perish did they cease to aid each other. We cannot exist without mutual help.
All therefore that need aid have a right to ask it from their fellow men; and no one who has the power of granting can refuse it without guilt.”
Such practice should make perfect; we hold to it. Still, if that completeness should elude us, perfect practice will bring us close enough.