Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today.
by Walter Edey
All things have “Achilles Heels”. This fatal flaw is never a function of size, status, wealth and economic or social systems. It is a vulnerability that if not identified, and skillfully managed, can fester – and give rise to despair, ugliness and costly negative outcomes.
The good news is this. The wise can take heed, and learn from the experiences of self and others. Early January 2021 in America is a case in point.
What are some of the imperfections of the American system? Is it that:
(1) The Presidential and electoral system though legal, has unattended shortcomings
(2) The court system is not seen as a third political eye?
(3) What mechanisms helped America’s underbelly to: arise, organise, and sought to defend, their perceivable truth – a rigged Presidential election? (4) How will the active cells of discord that exist, be diffused?
Truth told good and evil – in order to persist in time – if given freedom, form structures and become resilient ideologies. And when the voices of experience and knowledge remain silent – complacency feeds complicity and the horrible triumphs over the noble, always.
Dan Weckerly agrees. Speaking out after Black Lives Matter protests, in part he wrote: “I myself wrestled with the don’t –all- lives matter rhetoric.
My personal epiphany came from an online meme. It showed a person dousing a house fire, while a neighbour – whose house was safe – asked, “Don’t all houses matter?
What’s required is bravery.
Quality individuals and corporate messengers aren’t always comfortable with. It is time for spokespeople to search their hearts, swallow the fear, and deal with the consequences; and take the hand of African Americans who need it right now…
If you and your brand have sat on the fence on this one, I urge you to hop off and let your voice be heard . . . Corporate branding now includes social activism and cause marketing. “
Considering Barbados’ black and white cultural profile, and the deep disparities that exist, shouldn’t leadership not heed Weckerly’s suggestions?
That said, as America’s record now shows, perceived injustice protests, be it causes of White supremacy or Black exclusion, can benchmark, unattended social systems flaws and faults.
Plato’s long held view of justice remains relevant:
“ Justice is, at once a part of human virtue and the bond, which joins man together in society… It is not mere strength, but it is a harmonious strength.”
Doesn’t Plato’s ideal suggests that justice strengthens a democracy, while injustice, weakens it?
Given that in Barbados, there is no place to duck, run or hide, what core things broad leadership, could and should do?
(1) Governance goal and mission: Commit to rewriting existing legislation as an ongoing response to changing social and economic conditions, as COVID 19 has already shown.
(2) Governance leadership renewal: Think structurally. Acknowledge that many citizens are disenfranchised because of a lack of quality access to the court system. Make the distinction between law and justice.
(3) The governance how: Restructure the Office of Ombudsman as an expanded independent entity. Mandate it to preemptively identify systemic cultural, economic, and social injustice and bias – and present ideal solutions to leadership. Provide resources that enable the office to research monitor borrow and adapt the know-how of other societies.
(4) Happenstance: Bury for good the popular notion: “ It can’t happen here.”
Truth be told, America has warned and reminded the world that democracy has its flaws and that it is fragile. It is therefore wrong to peek and do nothing.
It would be wise for Barbadians to pause, dig deep, and to examine its imperfect mirror.
Knowingly changing direction is not a weakness. It is a show of intelligent muscular fortitude.
Walter Edey is a retired math and science educator.