I am a Bajan. I am a proud Bajan. I get cold bumps when the anthem is playing, or when I see the flag swaying in the breeze. It stands to reason therefore, that at this juncture in our nation’s history, my heart is aggrieved.
The senseless surge in gun violence which sends innocent bystanders scattering and cloaks communities in a thick blanket of fear, is ruining the reputation of our nation as a peaceful haven. When we think about our morals and social norms, the only image that comes to mind is an avalanche representing the rapid descent in those qualities.
In addition, we are now facing one of the most challenging economic times, perhaps the most taxing (pun intended) time as a country. I do not pretend to understand all the intricate details of foreign reserves, debentures, fiscal prudence, debt repayment, interest, restructuring and a host of other financial words being bandied about in the past few months. I chuckled to myself as I wrote those words because admittedly I get cross-eyed when I have to deal with the difference between debit and credit!
I had written that there were two professions that I could not see myself being involved in – teaching and nursing. In those cases, it was not due to a lack of skill but more a personality clash. I had completely forgotten about professions in finance such as accountants, economists and actuaries. It is indeed a glaring lack of skill and core competence that prevent me from joining those ranks. Be that as it may, they have my utmost respect, especially in these tough times.
As a nation, we have some difficult choices to make and there are several tests we must endure in the months and years ahead. What do we do as a people? Do we believe that this is a time for partisan issues to be on the tips of our tongues? Politics is one of those words I try to avoid although I pride myself on being a ‘logophile’ (word lover). The mere mention of politics is sure to induce stage 2 hypertension in the average citizen and certainly we do not need further increases in the prevalence of chronic diseases.
I believe as a people it is time for us to do like the prophet Isaiah in the Bible, and ‘set our [collective] face like flint’ and press on with the business of the country. We need to set aside the weights that so easily beset us and press toward a worthy goal – that of financial freedom.
How can we reach this goal? First off the bat, I am compelled to suggest that we seek God and ask His guidance on our decisions so they will not make things worse in the long run but prove to be effective in achieving what we need.
We need to become educated. It is obvious that if I am to lend a helping hand as a proud citizen to the restoration of my country that I need to understand the financial terms and their implications. Whilst I have no intentions of reading for a degree in economics there are public seminars where the specialists simplify the terms for persons like me. And guess what? The ones I have attended were FREE!
As we gain more knowledge, then we need to apply that knowledge otherwise learning has not taken place. For example, we have learned that our foreign reserves have dipped to a precarious position. Perhaps instead of shopping overseas we could give our funds to local business and help turn the economy.
Whilst running errands and standing in lines, I have heard the complaints of the lofty totals on utility bills, and the disproportion between money spent and the amount of groceries purchased. However, we purchase the largest televisions and leave lights on in each room in the house whilst running a small load in the washing machine.
I believe in bathing and so I would never suggest that we become an unclean people. Running the water whilst we soap up, or even worse, whilst we are sitting on the ‘throne’ is a waste of a precious resource.
These are times when our children, those who will inherit the economy we leave behind, should be involved in making decisions that positively impact the health of our finances. Teach them from young about water conservation and reduction of fossil fuel usage; let them know about budgeting and being responsible with their allowances and to avoid impulse buying; allow them to till the land and care for a small garden; create environments that foster creative thinking and the development of money-making ideas. It is in the Bible. Money answereth all things. (Ecclesiastes 10:19).
What I see as a positive in these dire economic straits is the fostering of community. Out of necessity, persons will have to depend on each other so that we can all succeed. Sharing food crops and keeping the neighbour’s children so that a mother or father can work can become a way of life. This is not a step backward but indeed it is a giant leap in the right direction. I envision community gardens as opposed to block violence; homework help in groups in community centres versus children idling on the streets; cooking for the neighbour because he or she has to work late trying to fix our nation’s problems.
I recently came across Alexandre Dumas’ book The Three Musketeers and what jumped out at me was that famous quote applicable to us as a people: ‘One for all, and all for one’. Each of us can make decisions that propel us all in the right direction and all of us can ensure not one of us is left behind.
(Rénee Boyce is a medical doctor, a wife, a mother and a Christian, who is committed to Barbados’ development. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org)