Dose of reality
There is much for Barbados and its citizens to be proud of 46 years after the colonial chains attaching this tiny nation to the British were cut. By most measurements traditionally used to gauge the success of a society and people, the island has developed admirably.
Barbadians are among the most educated in the world, with a system of teaching and learning, which though far from perfect, is the envy of larger and more financially resourceful countries.
The United States with its military and economic might continues to squabble over whether it can afford health care for the most vulnerable of its citizens who cannot pay their own way, while this little land of ours has been doing so for several decades now.
Some of the world’s richest and best known corporations and individuals have opted to make here their number one place to work and play, a number of them leaving some of the best known cities behind for good.
Our system of public transportation and garbage disposal is far from perfect, but there are numerous places globally which wish theirs were half as good.
Our governments come and go minus the controversy, blood shed, and contention often associated with older and supposedly more sophisticated democracies and political systems.
There are Barbadians resident overseas for far less than half of the 46 years the island has been independent who would not recognise parts of it if they returned home today.
From the transformation of the Grantley Adams International Airport to the thousands of houses that have replaced hundreds of acres of sugar cane infrastructural improvements are obvious and note worthy.
For all of this and more we should all be proud and inspired to pass on this internationally admired reputation of development and progress to those who come after us.
Based purely on how people have been responding to memories, principally black and white photos capturing images of Barbados of yore, it is clear that Barbadians are feeling especially nostalgic this year.
At the risk of being cynical, or being accused of negativity during this time of nostalgia, introspection and reflection, however, a heft dose of reality on the eve of Independence Day will not hurt.
As the various armed and unarmed detachments march with precision tomorrow morning at the Garrison, as Barbadians dressed in their national colours admire the display and cheer, and as the various dignitaries dressed in their finery savor the spotlight, there will be a section of the population not feeling very independent.
They will include the small business owners and the retrenched workers feeling more in a state of bondage and far from liberated in this independent land.
Unfortunately, the list of these individuals has grown since November 30 last year, and will likely be larger at the start of 2013.
Isn’t it ironic that as Barbados heads quickly towards a half century of independence a growing number of our people are returning to dependency status?
Are we really free when our economic well being still depends so heavily on the very country which once ‘owned’ us?
We are not for one moment suggesting now is a time to despair, even if you do not know where your next dollar or next meal is coming from.
Barbadians are a resilient people and have survived and in many instances thrived after hardships that for some have been worst than this.
That said, now is as good a time as any to remind those not struggling that there are others in society feeling far from independent. And that is not cynicism or negativity, it is reality.