Keeping hope alive
By Bishop Dr Charles Jason Gordon
It is 48 years since the nation lowered the Union Jack and ran the Broken Trident up the flagpole. This was an occasion filled with great expectation and hope. The citizens believed that they would manage their affairs better than Britain.
They wanted to write their name on history’s page with expectations great. They wanted the freedom to chart their own destiny in the family of nations. They wanted to make their unique mark on the world stage. They were filled with hope!
The Lord has been the people’s guide
For past three hundred years.
With Him still on the people’s side,
We have no doubts or fears.
Barbados has been ranked as one of the developing countries that is highest on the UN Human Development Index. Yet for the past decade we have been drifting towards an unsustainable economy. The collapse of the world financial system in 2008 hastened this process. It collapsed because greed is unsustainable.
Pope Francis in his highly acclaimed Joy Of The Gospel calls this economic system the idolatry of money. We have replaced our faith in the living and true God for an idol.
We are in the midst of a crisis where we face growing unemployment and poverty, the overwhelming of our social services, growing violence and anger in our children, cut budgets for education, health and social services. The social challenge is escalating and the resources are diminishing to meet the demand. Our economy is stagnating. Achieving significant growth has become a major challenge.
What is there to hope for? Hope is not optimism; it is rooted in the belief that God will deliver on promises and assurances made. Optimism will say things will get better. Hope will say, even if things get worse, our unfailing trust in God will see us through. Hope is rooted in our faith in God.
As the author of Hebrews 11:1 says, “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Hope requires that we return to the God who is the people’s guide! This involves returning to a vision for Barbados where the development of our human potential is critical to national development.
We can and must hope for a Barbados where all of our children are educated for the workplace of tomorrow; where formation of the whole person leads to an entrepreneurial spirit forming the next generation to create meaningful jobs and to make service a way of life.
We must hope for a Barbados where pride and industry mean humility and service; where we ensure all our citizens have the essentials of human dignity –– food, shelter, clothing and meaningful work; where human flourishing is the goal of our national development and people are valued higher than money.
We must hope for a Barbados where people are treated like people regardless of colour, creed, class, or the size of their wallet; where all our citizens live as brothers and sisters in this national family. We must hope for a Barbados where the determination to eradicate poverty is the concern of all of its citizens; where the Government, labour and private sector leaders are all committed to the common good, with a profound respect for the dignity and sanctity of every person.
We must hope for a Barbados where the brightest and the best are brought around the table to find solutions for the challenges facing the nation and its people; where party loyalty is always second to the national good, and where cooperation for national development is top of the political agenda.
Call for action. To move from optimism to hope we need to do three things:
(1) ensure all our people have the basic requirements for human living;
(2) reassess our current values in the light of God’s values; the dignity and participation of every person; a preferential option for the poor; the sanctity of marriage; and ensuring the economy serves the development of all our people;
(3) have as a matter of urgency a national conversation on the type of nation we want to become.
Today we face the greatest challenge in our Independent history as a nation. There may be no immediate solutions, nor does anyone have the magic wand to take us out of this crisis. But we do have great resources.
Those of us who have excess need to ensure that all our people receive what is necessary to live with dignity. We must become more generous to the NGOs and churches that do this important work.
We have the legacy of our brave forefathers who sowed the seed of nationhood. Their values, their hard work, their political commitment constitute a rich patrimony which we have abandoned.
This crisis can and must be a moment of reflection and rediscovery. Not that we adopt wholesale from the past; but that we do the difficult work of deciding what type of nation we want to become. This needs to be a national conversation. We all have a stake in our future.
This crisis could well be the best of all times because God is inviting us to do very important work –– the work of hope in rebuilding our nation upon solid values and vision. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3 to5)
I offer congratulations and ask God’s blessings upon all the citizens and the Government of this beautiful nation of Barbados on the occasion of our 48th anniversary of Independence. May God bless our nation!