I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions but I have resolved that this year, more than before, I will look for a solution to every problem that presents itself. I always say that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem so I intend to be part of the solution.
I recently went to the launch of the book Celebrating Barbadians Living in the United States of America – Bringing credit to our nation wherever we go and I was pleased to hear how all obstacles were overcome to make the book a reality. This was done primarily through a private sector and Government initiative, which has inspired me to raise an issue that is in urgent need of a solution and that is the state of some of the records in the Archives.
I have been going into the Archives from about 2016 when I started doing research for my book Vaucluse. Part of the reason that it is taking so long to be completed is that I just cannot access some of the records that I need to finish my research. At least, that is what I tell myself. Many times I arrive there all excited with a lead to find some information, only to discover that the tome containing it is closed because it is in such a fragile state.
My question to the staff there has been: Does that mean that history is lost? The thought of that is tragic! This may not be of concern to many people, and I must admit that I would have been one of those people before I started writing historical novels and doing research, but I’ve discovered that having an understanding of history truly causes you to look at things differently and to live differently.
That is why I would love to find a solution to get the records in the Archives and in the National Library digitized so that they are preserved for generations to come. Can we get a private sector and Government initiative to act on this very important project? This is just one of the numerous problems that need a solution in this country.
What is abundantly clear is that whichever party or parties form the next Government, we cannot expect them to solve all the problems or address all the issues. They just do not have the resources or, in some cases, the solutions needed to fix everything. If communities would work together to address some of their own issues, it would take some of the pressure off Government.
To share an example from my own experience, after getting tired of the bush overgrowing the road and the potholes on the road into our neighbourhood, all of us got together and contributed to having the bush cut back and the potholes filled in. Granted every community may not have the wherewithal to do that, but there must be at least some residents who have a cutlass or an edge cutter who can help to cut the bush in their communities. That way, Government would not have to hire so many people before elections to cut the bush at the side of the roads.
I went to Ruby Park, St Philip last year and I was delighted to see some of the people in that neighbourhood sorting garbage at a communal depot for recycling. Not only does that help the environment, but it builds community and promotes relationship. If you have a good relationship with your neighbour, then you will be there for each other and you will look out for each other. That is another great thing about my neighbourhood; we have a WhatsApp chat group so if we see anyone suspicious in the neighbourhood or if someone’s burglar alarm is going off, it is raised in the chat. If every community operated in those ways, we would be a much stronger nation.
As we go into 2018, let us all resolve to see how we can bring solutions to our communities that will spill over into the whole country. Let us resolve to exercise our democratic right to vote and may those votes be made with wisdom and with a view to moving the country forward. Let us resolve to insist on proper governance, transparency and accountability. These are essential solutions to many of the problems that we are facing today. Let’s resolve to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.