COLUMN – The price of principle and truth
There are times in life when, in a true test of the mettle of one’s character, a person has to choose between standing up for principle and accepting the risk of gaining little or nothing, or surrendering to the tempting lure of opportunism and gaining everything.
In this highly materialistic age in which we live, standing up for principle, which often involves sacrifice but ultimately brings rich spiritual rewards, is not the popular thing to do. Indeed, it would be viewed by many today as a stupid decision because the embrace of opportunism often yields a bountiful harvest of fame, fortune and status.
However, when one has reached a certain stage of development where the true meaning and purpose of life become crystal clear, standing up for principle is not an option but a necessity. The love of materialism is a hindrance to spiritual growth and a true relationship with the Divine.
“For what shall it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul,” Jesus warns us.
Besides, fame, fortune and status are only for a time. When we eventually die and exit this world, as everyone must, we cannot take them with us.
As Job reminds us in a Scripture passage read at every funeral service: “We bring nothing into this world and we surely can take nothing out.”
What ultimately matters, therefore, are riches of the spirit. And this life is an opportunity to pile them up through selfless service and sacrifice.
It is the knowledge of these eternal truths that keeps me grounded, focused and humble. They were instilled during my formative years by a deeply spiritual great-grandmother, reinforced by my first two parish priests, Reverend Dr Leslie Alexander Lett and the Very Reverend Ulric Leroy Smith –– and ultimately affirmed during a two-year sojourn at Codrington College.
Against this backdrop, scurrilous and malicious attacks, such as what unfolded over the last weekend, will never faze or distract me, even though the objective is to hold me up to public ridicule and besmirch my professional reputation. It is not the first time the particular organization has done it, nor do I expect it will be the last.
The chips, however, will fall where they have to. Rolling over and playing dead is definitely not part of my DNA.
However, knowing how easily salacious rumour and gossip can transition to truth in our fair land, I must set the record straight on a few pertinent issues. A few months ago, in a column entitled The Bajan Paradox, which went viral on the Internet with over 1,000 likes on Facebook alone, I described Barbados as an inherently anti-intellectual society. The scurrilous attack surely provides strong confirmation of that thesis.
If placing emphasis on bettering myself through getting a world-class education and striving to be the best at what I do is a crime, then I plead guilty with no apologies.
If this “scholar” has to be out “in the cold” as a result, it is happily by choice; not circumstances. But the fact of the matter is that I am not. Besides, with relatively little, I am far happier than many who are awash with millions.
If I had chosen to remain in the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), turn a blind eye to what is happening in this country and profusely sing “how great thou art” in praise of the regime to advance my selfish interests, I could be sitting pretty today. What may stun these jealous media detractors is that they did not get the scoop that I was being considered for a senior diplomatic posting overseas.
What reportedly caused a change of plan was the frank 2013 year-end analysis which I wrote for Barbados TODAY that detailed the administration’s many shortcomings, especially in relation to the management of the economic crisis, and leadership. I have no regrets.
My conscience dictated that I had to write in the public interest. Besides, my conscience would not have allowed me to live the glorious life of a diplomat, at public expense, in some foreign capital while Barbadians at home were suffering.
Before the diplomatic posting entered the picture, I was also directly offered a high-profile advisory position in the Government where I could have effectively utilized my political skills. A malicious name-carrier, or name-carriers –– and there are many of them in Barbadian politics –– tried to scuttle the plan. However, it became pretty clear early in the discussions that the particular individual’s modus operandi would have made working for him a frustrating experience. He is a bit too laid-back. I am the results-driven “let’s get it done” type.
At my request, the individual was supposed to have provided me, by a particular date, with a formal written offer to peruse and sign off. Not surprisingly, he did not meet the date and I never bothered to call again, because I never asked for the position in the first place. It was put on the table for me to consider.
Long ago, I took a decision that I would not work for any and everybody in politics, regardless of how lucrative the rewards mght be, especially if it involved compromising values and principles I hold dear. While winning an election for a client is important, it is not for me the be-all and end-all.
What is important for me is getting politicians also to appreciate the urgent need for reform to build capacity at the party level, especially in the critical area of public policy; to come up with effective solutions to the complex problems facing our societies.
I also believe that the population, in a true expression of democracy, must be fully engaged in the process so that whatever development strategy emerges, reflects a broad-based consensus. Such a unified approach represents the best hope for reversing the fortunes of our ailing countries.
Across the region, our politics and economics are in crisis. Studying political management opened my eyes to the frightening reality that confronts Barbados and the region, but the powers that be are generally asleep on these critical issues.
There will be no sustained economic revival in our region unless there is also political renewal. The two go together. Drawing attention to the need for fundamental changes to the political culture, as I have been doing in this column, is a public responsibility I take seriously. It may not get me wealthy, but becoming wealthy has never been the overriding objective of my life. It has been making a difference through service.
Nitpicking nitwits who thrive on peddling rumour and gossip do a grave disservice to the public. Our people are in the dark on many critical issues –– for example, how globalization is seriously impacting life in Barbados –– and are in need of enlightening and empowering information which they can use to make wise decisions for themselves and their families.
And so, I intend to press on, even in the face of adversity. Like the Apostle Paul, I too can rejoice because “I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have . . . so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me”.
Will you say a loud amen to that?
(Reudon Eversley is a political strategist, strategic communication specialist and journalist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)