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Truth and fear

I read a book by Andy Andrews this week called How do you kill 11 million people?: Why the truth matters more than you think. In case you’re wondering, the answer to that question is “Lie to them”.

It’s a short book that uses the death of millions in Nazi Germany to demonstrate how leaders used lies to deceive the people and how they continue to do that today, primarily to get elected to political positions.

Have our leaders lied to us? Are they still lying to us? I’m so tired of half-truths, accusations and evasions and worse of all outright silence on important issues. What is the real state of the economy? What is the true position of tourism in Barbados? What was the cost of the new money that was introduced this month? Why was the Commissioner of Police relieved of his duties? Why are contracts being awarded to businesses which are not the low bid? I want the truth.

The Good Book says: “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Andy Andrews asks: “If you don’t know the truth, does that mean that its absence can place you in bondage?” Are we therefore in bondage? And if so what are we in bondage to? Are we in bondage to the very political system that we have tolerated for hundreds of years?

We’re supposed to be a democracy and in case anyone has forgotten the definition of the word let me remind us. Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally — either directly or through elected representatives — in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political freedom.

In Barbados we have what is known as representative democracy which theoretically means that we have elected people to represent us and to run the country in a way that is beneficial to us all. Under that democratic system, these elected officials are therefore answerable to the people who they represent. They should not just refuse to speak, or make decisions and offer no reason for their decision. That is an autocracy! For years political parties have lied to us about what they will do when they get in power and after they are elected they renege on those promises, sometimes citing the state of the economy for not fulfilling the promises in their manifesto. Why are politicians seemingly so afraid of the truth?

If I have a client and I realise that I can’t give them what I promised, I either try to find an alternative solution or I get back to them and let them know the truth. Maybe that’s because I have no hidden agenda.

Perhaps politicians don’t want to tell us the truth because of fear. Fear of what it may mean for their position of political power. I can only wonder if they do not want to tell us the truth because they have hidden agendas. There is too much fear in Barbados. There’s a fear of speaking the truth because of possible reprisals.

People sometimes e-mail me and tell me that they appreciated what I wrote in a particular article and say things like “that needed to be said”. So why don’t they say it? It’s fear.

A friend of mine this week reminded me of Nelson Mandela’s trial where he was accused of sedition and he said that his beliefs were something he lived for and also something he was prepared to die for. That statement caused him to spend 27 years on Robin Island but when he came out, he was triumphant.

I suppose that until we overcome our fear of death, whether actual death or death of our reputations, our social status, or our economic wellbeing, then people will continue to get away with lies and unacceptable practices.

Perhaps I’m an idealist, but my greatest desire for this nation is to see it led by people of the highest integrity and transparency who really uphold the tenets of democracy and anyone not willing to meet those criteria need not apply for the position. I long for the day where truth is known and fear is displaced, so that we will be truly free.

* Donna Every is the CEO of Arise Consulting Inc. which provides business and motivational training and advice to help individuals and organizations fulfill their purpose. She has written five books and has just release her second novel, The High Road.

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