If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.
–– Abigail Van Buren
We add to the late Dear Abby columnist’s advice: a heavy load of knowledge and sense of thankfulness on their heads too.
This week, as we celebrated the great leader and visionary National Hero Errol Walton Barrow, there was much sermonizing and oration on our young and up-and-coming making the effort and taking the time to walk in the footsteps of this giant of a man –– at least, to take the paths of closer people like him.
After all, Errol Barrow is not the only conscientious Barbadian who has contributed to the development of this nation, but it can be hardly denied he has inspired many who came after him.
Truth be told, we must acknowledge and show deep and lasting appreciation of all those who made self-sacrifice –– and laboured unstintingly –– for the betterment of our dear land and its people. But there is no surer way of allowing this recognition, gratefulness and tribute to die than by keeping the children of the nation day after day unaware of and oblivious to the contributions of these stalwarts.
Their birthdays and their death dates cannot be the only stimulant of our memories of them and their impact on our lives. We must live their successes for us and their lessons learned through our weeks and months and years.
And while we do not dismiss “new thinking” among the younger of the population, we cannot help but stress that opinions and conclusions are of little worth if they are not informed by or can boast being bosom friends of experiential knowledge. True insight is influenced by those before us who expose us to their wisdom and tested judgement.
And this is as sure as the frequent sunrises and sunsets, and the many moons that our ascendants and founding fathers made the most of.
We do our youth a great disservice then when we lead them to believe that their input alone –– in this age of ubiquitous technology and intellectual anarchy –– could make for the reformation of all reformations; that their challenges along life’s course will be so manageable by their own prescription! It will be outlandish advice brought to nought.
As the older and wiser of us have already learnt, the exuberance of youth soon mellows into reality and greater caution and watchfulness.
There has been much negativity infiltrating our school culture in recent years, seeking to devour its very soul: Facebook abuse, illicit drug introduction, sexual offences, bullying, teacher neglect and bad example, Ministry of Education blunders and inaction, and so on. Here is the environment that does not encourage emulation of the higher principles and sacred values of our grands and great-grands, and our founding fathers.
Before Errol Barrow Week comes to an end, let us see if we can resolve to reflect on those others like him –– and those unsung community heroes too who were noted for their morality, decency and dignity –– and so inform our progeny of them that they might be inspired to follow their example.
By it also, we the older ones might bring some renewal to ourselves and grow to be better exemplars –– all for the sake of not destroying our young ones.
We all owe it to our national and unsung heroes. They did not make their sacrifices and contributions that following generations might enter the full school system and exit still challenged in writing and reading, clearly having done no work at all, and to teacher’s knowledge.
Let it be that like the legendary chemist and microbiologist Dr Louis Pasteur, each of us can say when we approach an offspring, “he inspires in me two sentiments: tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become” –– and may we again add gratitude for the exemplars before him –– or her!