Oh, no more playing in this House, please!
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts . . . .
–– William Shakespeare
Assuredly, when the noted English bard drew our attention to the world as a “stage” and its populace as actors, for all the pregnant cynicism, he would have had in mind loftier and more agreeable imagery. Through the character Jacques’ utterance he reminds us of the dramarama that we make of day-to-day life.
In depicting daily living as an acting role, he projects our expertise at it: our mechanical “good morning” to our neighbours; our well rehearsed “pardon me” to those whose toes we step upon; our reflex “thank you” and smile to strangers; our “delicious dish” flattery to our dinner host whose offering is far from edible; our affected “deepest condolences” to our passing acquaintance’s family whom we hardly know, having not met before.
Shakespeare suggests we have all been actors at one time or another –– if only in the name of civility and expressed considerateness.
Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur, we are certain, will accept this analysis of the English playwright’s literary practice; but we hold too that he sees no good reason for Barbadian mortals to carry this Shakespearean principle to its ultimate topsy-turvy state. He is not exactly impressed with the “acting” roles being presented in the chambers of Parliament over the current “difficult” and “sensitive” matter featuring the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
The Independent Member of Parliament –– holding no brief for the Government, the Opposition which he once led, or the Speaker himself –– reminded us that after all the hoopla in the last few weeks within Parliament and without, we had in fact veered from the central point and interest; and that was the welfare and well-being of the disadvantaged in all this:
Mr John Griffiths.
Neither the Members of Parliament (including the boycotting Opposition) nor the members of the Barbados Bar Association seemed to be effectively helping Speaker Michael Carrington’s disenchanted and chap-fallen client Mr Griffiths, Mr Arthur pointed out. The Independent MP, rightfully so, would have us understand that in this controversial and heatedly debated affair Mr Griffiths was the victim.
The former Prime Minister stressed to the Press in the precincts of Parliament: “. . . I think our first effort should be . . . everything that needs to be done should be done, to make sure Mr Griffiths gets his money –– and that all other Barbadians in a similar situation are not savaged, whether by politicians or anyone else.
“I believe that both sides of the House and the Bar Association that has a disciplinary committee should be saying, ‘Let us first of all deal with the victim; make sure this person gets back [his] money after 15 years’.”
We couldn’t agree more! And so, we join Mr Arthur in putting the question to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the president of the Barbados Bar Association: are any urgent arrangements, of any kind, being made to have Mr Griffiths in possession of his nigh $1/4 million?
Is justice being pursued on behalf of this member of the elderly, whom this Government is sworn to protect, and which principle we as a people have vowed to support? Or are we only play-acting in the name of civility and some code of conduct, as Shakespeare has submitted?
Truth be told, if the Opposition will have any justice brought to Mr Griffiths, it will indeed not be by boycotting Parliament sessions when Mr Carrington is in the chair. The point of discomfiture and comedown for the Government –– from the perspective of the court of public opinion –– has already been made –– by the first Opposition walkout.
What the electorate needs to hear, as we have said before, is some statement, or explanation, or public commitment to ridding Mr Griffiths of his woes coming from the Speaker, as a people’s representative and final voice of Parliament.
We have had our fill of the theatric in the highest court of the land over these several years. Let us see if, just this once, we can drag the stage out of Parliament –– and players not be!