As I engage the younger generation, whom we are training to manage Barbados after we have gone, I am normally impressed with their general boldness and ability to articulate their concerns.
I recently saw a young fellow who appeared to have just graduated from secondary school selling newspapers. I bought one and then gave him a $10 tip as I explained to him that I wanted to encourage him to keep doing the right thing. He politely accepted the gift, which further impressed me. He should do well in business, because he was selling a high-demand product in a high-trafficked location, and he was polite.
I also encountered persons selling mangoes. Some had no fear about explaining that they had picked them from a neighbour’s yard. They felt justified since they did not pick all, but left some that were harder to reach for their neighbour. They also felt entitled to the mangoes since they previously chased the monkeys from stealing the fruit.
They asked me what I would do about police officers coming into their community and taking bribes for looking the other way. They laughed when I informed them about the Police Complaints Authority, saying that it is a joke. I asked them whether they had ever made a complaint and they admitted that they had not because it is a joke. I explained that they should first make a complaint, and then observe the response before they conclude that it is joke. They agreed that this was a rational approach, but then countered by stating that they were tired of all of the hypocrisy in Barbados. Why is everyone preaching, “do as I say but not as I do?” They then asked some pertinent questions:
Why are obese health officials preaching that the public should not enjoy the unhealthy foods that they seem to be enjoying in abundance? Why are people with high salaries telling those who are barely getting by to tighten their belts? Why are people who are always drinking preaching that others should drink responsibly?
When I asked about their choice of job, they tried to justify their choice of employer. What is the difference between having anemployer who tells you to use substandard materials and methods, and having a gang lord who tells you to sell drugs? In both cases, the employers are doing wrong, customers get hurt, and if they get caught, you will be out of a job. So what is the real difference?
Why do the police leave the men who pay and receive bribes, and the restaurants that dilute drinks, and contractors who do bad work, and shops that sell defective products, and supermarkets that sell expired food alone, but want to arrest the fellows who are selling drugs? How is that right? I agreed that it was not right, and that in a Solutions Barbados administration, they would all be treated equitably.
This brings us to the political poster issue. The Barbados Light & Power formally requested all political parties not to place posters on their poles. One reason given is that they can seriously injure workers. Respect for private property is a basic human right in Barbados, and is protected by our Constitution. Politicians who want to write our nation’s laws, but unashamedly violate constitutional property rights in full public view, are extremely poor examples for our youth.
Fortunately for all of us, there is an upcoming general election and an opportunity for us to select better political models for our nation’s justifiably cynical youth. Your responsibility in this regard is to simply note every political candidate on a utility pole, and do not vote for them.