If there is one area of discussion that people are warned not to engage in, it is on the subject of religion. It is a rabbit hole from which there is little chance of finding a desirable exit point.
At the same time, we must acknowledge that religion and faith have played a defining role in how Barbadians have interacted with each other for generations.
The traditional religious groups such as the Anglicans and Methodists have made significant contributions, for example, in the provision of education for the mostly poor, black Barbadian children. That educational intervention provided the foundation for upward mobility of many young people in poverty stricken households.
Sadly today, there is a growing level of irreverence and intolerance to religion and religious teaching that has caused some elders in our communities to lament the moral slide of the Barbadian society.
They are convinced that when tragedy befalls, it is directly linked to the shift away from the fundamental religious mores upon which our society has been founded.
At the same time, however, there are many who are convinced that religion has been used as a tool to control and manipulate. That indoctrination of some religious practices has also contributed to division and has promoted more intolerance of others than those who are ambivalent about all religions.
On Sunday morning, when tragedy struck a working class neighbourhood on the outskirts of Bridgetown, a home was destroyed in a blaze of unknown origin.
The event left a family of six homeless with only the clothes on their backs. They were, however, thankful that their pet dog Emily was unharmed and everyone at home at the time managed to escape safely.
What struck many who heard and read of the events which left the Seale family without a roof over their heads was the remarkable faith of matriarch Beatrice Seale.
Ephesians 6:16 reminds us that because we live in a world that is sinful, we are likely to face difficulties of one form or another. However, it is our faith that helps us to remain strong during the most difficult of times.
It is our faith that acts as a shield to protect us and “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts”.
Ms. Seale, who was serving at her nearby Whitepark Wesleyan Holiness Church, was called out from the morning’s service and alerted her home was on fire.
Her response to the loss of all her possessions seemed to shock and stun even the harshest of social media commentators, most of whom marvelled at her calm demeanor and faith that her God will provide. Many of them admitted that in the face of such a tragedy, they would have been undone by the events.
Ms. Seale’s display of faith, and not in an arrogant manner but a calm assurance, caused many to pause and reflect on their opinions about faith and religion.
She calmed the younger members of the household including her great-grandson Ashannico who were traumatised. “We will get somewhere to stay, don’t worry,” she assured him.
Knowing very little about this family except what we have garnered from the tragedy, we are left with the impression that the elder Seale’s influence is significant.
Another occupant of the home that was destroyed in the blaze was Ms. Seale’s daughter Sherry-Ann. Though shocked by the events, she remarked to the media: “At least the dog was saved; thank God for that. That stopped me from crying. At least my [grandchildren] and my mum are here with me.”
The swift attention to the issue by MP for the area Christopher Gibbs with promises that the social agencies will move quickly to provide temporary accommodation for the family was commendable.
We are also convinced that the Seale family will receive the kind of community support that will restore this longstanding Passage Road, St Michael family to their former status.
Most of all, we salute Beatrice Seale for helping to ground us in the importance of faith and positive thinking. It is an attribute that many of us have yet to master.