We will be friends of all, satellites of none.
–– National Hero and Father of Independence
Prime Minister Errol Barrow.
The statement above of our very first Prime Minister, it would be safe to say, is now mostly remembered at this time of year –– when we are about to celebrate the birthday of our nation: November 30. Oft-times, we repeat National Hero The Right Excellent Errol Barrow’s word for its rhythmic ring and the potency of thought it might engender in an independent mind, paying much less attention to the other commitment preceding this far more famous one.
Declared National Hero Barrow: “We will not regard any great power as necessarily right in a given dispute unless we are convinced of this . . . .”
We would emphasize logically and morally convinced.
Regrettably, of late we have culled the habit wherein the influential that be and some elements of the masses are much more predisposed to the acceptance of so-called popular recommendations or decisions, and bad habits and dangerous or lethal practices, based on the swollen empathy for the proponents on the one hand, and the copycat insobriety on the other. This follow-the-crowd overindulgence –– for us a people of supposedly independent mind –– would take precedence over solidity and certitude, which clearly our Father of Independence had envisioned.
This hip but most unworthy pattern is silently supported and at times promoted and propped up by some politicians and commentators who seem blinded to the fact that this conduct will most certainly come back to haunt them in times when such a practice ought to be much less. In some circumstances, the doing itself currently spells misery, injury and even death for some of us –– too many of us, actually.
In the first case, an invitation to copy, we have the call for the elimination of capital punishment for blatantly wilful murder –– on the nonsensical notion that it would not stop the killing; and the encouragement to have no qualms about same-sex marriages by state or church –– on the exaggerated concept of rights. And the accompaniment of this societal madness is the rush to do damage to images of objecters rather
than their counterargument. But these are matters we will for another occasion.
Requiring much more urgent attention is the pastime of creative robbing of fellow Barbadians, and even visitors, by our youth in the main and the violent injury to each other, from schoolchild to adult, and the now callous and constant shooting of one another –– that nasty habit picked up by our young from the United States and other large-sized countries noted for their unbridled violence, but which would seek to intimidate us, because of their professed wealth, and in some cases nuclear power or potential, into following their unsuccessful modus operandi in dealing with their own societal ills.
As our Father of Independence clearly stated, we will not regard any “great power” as necessarily right in any given argument unless we are –– we aver –– logically and morally convinced of it.
There was a time when the church, the school, radio and the newspaper, by foundational structure, well thought out programming, a sense of civic duty and profound pride in professional presentation, informed us and educated us. These days, such attributes are far and few between the deafening silence and the plethora of rantings and fulminations of the wayward.
A challenge is that where such pertinent information may be forthcoming, because of the decreasing core skills of reading and writing –– for all the higher education we boast –– lack of proficiency in comprehension and reasoning is widespread. Extensive reading has become old hat. Sadly, the many newfangled theories of teaching these days do not empower students, other than give them say on how they feel about the world, their friends and themselves.
No matter what career a youth might dream of or decide upon, competent communication remains key, and this is only possible through adequate skills in reading and writing. And as a result will come logical reasoning, and an understanding that crime in the end does not pay –– certainly should not.
To let these core steps towards intelligible advancement become overgrown by rhetorical balderdash and political obfuscation will do no good for the intellect of our young.
It seems that for the future good of Barbados, there is no better time than now for all heads to come together on our rise from this national quagmire. Economic challenges are not our only concern.
More now than ever, we need to set aside the political bickering and volunteer cohesiveness in our path back to assured public safety, traditional Barbadian courtesy and neighbourliness, and full strength as a nation. The institutions that have brought us to nigh 50 years of Independence have a responsibility to ensure the integrity of our most positive declared principles and norms –– for all of us, and our children, and our children’s children.
Culture artist Terencia TC Coward reminds us that as Barbadians we know what we got, but we don’t know what we gine get. Are we really sure we do know what we have got? We daresay there is some valid fear of what we are getting!