Since our last publication, the world in which we move and have our being has undergone another yearly transition. At the stroke of midnight on Sunday, we said goodbye to 2017 and welcomed the arrival of 2018 with prayers, hymn singing and the pealing of bells if we happened to be in church. For those who chose to do otherwise, it was shaking a leg on the dance floor or witnessing the many colourful fireworks displays among other activities.
Let us take this opportunity, on this our first encounter of 2018, to wish our advertisers, readers here at home and across the globe and our countless other stakeholders a happy and successful year ahead. A new year which symbolically represents the close of one chapter of life and the beginning of another, always brings hope of improvement in our circumstances.
This hope is reflected in our tradition of making resolutions that identify areas of our lives where we would like to see improvement. However, many resolutions often fail to deliver on their promise because the hoped-for change never comes about through merely wishing but by making a determined effort. For most persons, this can be a major challenge, especially when it comes to doing away with habits that have become engrained.
2018 promises to be quite an eventful year. Before the middle of the year, Barbadians will be going to the polls in a general election that provides us with an opportunity once in every five years to choose a democratic Government. With the economy still struggling to recover ever since entering decline in 2008 with the onset of a global recession that officially ended a year later, 2017 saw some major setbacks.
These setbacks, especially a worrying decline in the foreign reserves, prompted the Freundel Stuart administration to introduce more austerity, including the punishing 400 per cent increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL). On the social side, Barbados also grappled with a worrying upsurge in gun-related violence and killings during the past year, though the situation was not as bad as in neighbouring St Lucia, for example.
Given the seriousness of the challenges facing us as a nation, it is our hope that parties contesting this year’s general election will use the opportunity to roll out their policies for full public scrutiny and debate, instead of engaging in the diversion of reducing the contest to a mudslinging match where the focus is on the personalities instead of policies. As a country, our No.1 New Year’s resolution ought to be committing ourselves at the individual and collective levels to doing what is necessary to get Barbados back on track. It requires the contribution of everyone, not just the Government. With confidence in ourselves and our abilities, it can be done.
Too often, our people demonstrate a tendency to dwell on what is negative. We complain a lot – not that complaining is not necessary sometimes – but it can have the effect of causing us to lose sight of the positive which can serve to inspire. Sometimes too, our people see themselves as helpless victims of circumstances and look for others to provide them with a way out, failing to recognize that the power lies within themselves to think through the problem and come up with an appropriate solution.
God, who our National Anthem tells us has been “the people’s guide for past 300 years”, helps those who help themselves. That is not to say that miracles do not occur. Yes, they still do, but rarely. We need, therefore, to rid ourselves of this spirit of dependence and replace it with a spirit of assertiveness as we approach the challenges of this new year which is also full of opportunities just waiting to be tapped to deliver benefits.
Despite the challenges, Barbados has a lot to be thankful for that people in many other countries wish could be their lot today. When we think, for example, of the massive task of reconstruction which some of our neighbours face following the widespread devastation caused by last year’s powerful category 5 hurricanes, our blessings ought to be immediately apparent. Naturally, we pray for their quick recovery and hope that they would be spared further calamity this year, just as we would wish for ourselves.
So, here’s to a happy, successful, and better new year, Barbados! It is our prayer that we set aside our differences in order to focus on the things that unite us in pursuit of the common good and overall improvement of the welfare of our land.