Prime Minister Mia Mottley some months ago spoke to the nation on the idea of Vision 2020: We Gatherin’. During the launch in February, she urged Barbadians across the globe to return home next year and be part of an effort to reconnect with family and friends, to assist in the rebuilding process and the general reinvigoration of their homeland. It was a clarion call which we hope will be readily embraced.
Of course, we do not expect every Barbadian to heed the call. That is impossible. But beyond aspects of symbolism inherent in the request, Miss Mottley’s attempt to rekindle a sense of patriotism and belonging among Barbadians at home and abroad is to be greatly admired. Next year, if all goes well, it could prove a watershed moment in Barbados’ history in many ways.
Initially, following Prime Minister Mottley’s call, and almost predictably, there were some who scoffed at the idea and suggested it was political poppycock. It was in many ways a case of the usual suspects being unwilling to look past their collective political noses and biases. But truth be told, it is virtually impossible to find fault with Miss Mottley’s idea. This presents an ideal opportunity for Barbadians to put their country before politics and accept the positives that can only accrue if Barbadians strain every sinew to make the idea a resounding success.
Miss Mottley’s vision is that Government will not be the ‘be all and end all” of the initiative. Central Government, of course, will play a pivotal role in the year-long activities, but institutions great and small, governmental and non-governmental offices, churches, community groups, village shops, charitable organisations, sports clubs, et al, are being encouraged to take an active part in making 2020 a year to remember. It will present an excellent opportunity for Barbadians to embrace their communities and by extension their parishes, and to showcase what makes them uniquely Barbadian.
At a time when our economic situation can lead many to have a defeatist outlook on their lives or to depart from usual wholesome activities, such an initiative can spur economic activity across various spheres for the 12 months of the year 2020 and beyond, and rekindle a sense of pride and industry that might have dimmed due to personal circumstances. Rather than become immersed in all that we perceive as negative, perhaps we can use the spirit and symbolism of the occasion to find, develop and accentuate positives. Perhaps, self-evaluation will lead us to the conclusion that the flooding around our homes of which we complain could be reduced if we avoid littering. Perhaps, we might appreciate that our lengthy wait in the Accident & Emergency at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital might be shortened with greater exercise and better diet. If we look closely enough we are likely to find many solutions before the problems occur.
Technology has brought the world closer together but ironically has rendered many families disconnected. Children are now nurtured by tablets and iPhones, conversational laughter has been replaced ‘lol’. Life has become so impersonal in Barbados that there is no flinching, hesitation or second-thought to one Barbadian putting a gun to the head of another and ending his or her existence. We have lost touch with what thousands of outsiders and visitors saw in the past that led them to determine that being in Barbados was as close to being in Paradise while still alive.
We observe, with some alarm that many of our institutional celebrations have paled over the years as apathy has taken root. There was a time when May Day celebration in Barbados was a major experience for the masses. This has deteriorated to a fizzle. With each succeeding year, it seems that we collectively struggle to demonstrate an understanding of the importance of November 30. Emancipation Day comes and goes each year with a barely discernible whimper.
If Prime Minister Mottley’s bold Vision 2020: We Gatherin’ initiative, can light a fire under Barbadians at home and abroad to the extent that there is a renewed spirit of hope, a banishment of apathy and despair, and a commitment to making this country better, then partisan politics be damned.