We are often accused of mimicking the way of the Western World. There are times, and rightly so, we are chastised for not holding true to our own way of life and culture.
In recent years, when October comes around many Bajans would host Halloween parties. Then in November, merchants would attempt to get on board with so-called “Black Friday” sales. There have always been feeble attempts made since the sale percentages never came close to that of those in the United States.
The concept of Black Friday originated from the idea that businesses places would use the period when they are restocking for Christmas, to say thank you to customers for patronising them. This “thank you” would come in the form of selling stock at ridiculously low prices.
It has never been executed the same way here in Bim.
However, at this time of year, there is one holiday marked with significance in the United States that would do us good to acknowledge especially given all we have been through over the past two years and that is Thanksgiving.
Of the 11 holidays celebrated in the US, Thanksgiving is the most logical and easily identifiable one. Indeed, Americans make a fuss of the day in some cases even more so than Christmas.
And while the origin of the day is often called into question with some commentators calling the story a myth, there continue to be grand celebrations in the US to mark Thanksgiving.
Ironically, at this time when Thanksgiving is recognised in the United States, we in Barbados are engaged in a heated debate about whether God should be removed from the new Charter of Barbados and replaced with Creator.
Following Tuesday’s debate on the Charter of Barbados in Parliament, there has raging national debate.
The Charter was created following consultations led by the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee that hosted sessions with the general public, civil society, faith-based organisations, the LGBTQI community, the Barbados Association of Retired Persons and the Barbados Council for the Disabled.
Prime Minister Mia Motley, who laid the resolution, said those who contributed to the discussion spoke to the need for parliamentary reform, a citizens advice bureau, freedom of information legislation, greater enforcement of human rights, the rights of a child, what family rights should be, and what she called “this issue of Creator”.
Some religious leaders have expressed concern about there being no direct references to “God” in the Charter, although the document mentions a “Creator”.
“I really do trust and hope that they will understand that there is no intention to demean anyone and, in fact, as we have said, the assertion to protect the rights of all is not an assertion to remove from anyone their individual rights or morals,” Mottley said.
Members of the local religious and activist communities held a virtual panel discussion under the theme God in a Barbados Republic. At the virtual discussion, panellists contended that the removal of God from the new Republic would remove love from the society, invite moral decay and forfeit many of the protections that have shielded the country from natural disasters and the like.
The discussion featured House of Freedom Ministries Reverend Ferdinand Nichols; Head of the African Foundation Paul Ras Simba Rock; Lumumba Batson of the Barbados Concerned Citizens Group; Winston Clarke of the Steering Committee for Barbados Concerned Citizens and Sean Apache Carter of the group Spiritually Aware.
Dr Ferdinand said: “I believe our leaders have their personal lives, but as long as their personal lives do not encroach upon the societal life of the country and upon what is in the best interest of the nation, which I want to believe all of our leadership is interested in, as long as that does not happen, God bless you.”
“But if that ever starts to happen, you are not only going to hear my voice, but you are going to hear the voices of thousands of Barbadians because many people think it’s just a handful of us here speaking. But I can assure you that there are thousands of Barbadians who share the sentiments that we have expressed in this forum this morning,” he said.
In a diverse society, it is highly unlikely that any Charter or any Constitution would please all corners of said society. However, a country of 55 years must know by now what works for it, what has helped to shape it and what helps to maintain and sustain its moral fabric.
While moving forward and seemingly progressing, no society should ever be swift to move away from those things that have kept it intact for decades. As mentioned earlier, this is a time to give thanks. This is a time for us to sit down and reflect on where we were and now where we are. And while in our quest to do things differently and move into this developing world let us not forget what history has taught us.
We sing it with conviction whenever we sing the entire National Anthem: “The Lord has been the people’s guide for past 300 years; with Him still on the people’s side we have no doubts or fears…” And so it shall continue to be