To our pride and industry and respect

She has promised no land of milk and honey, but Opposition Leader Mia Mottley is of the firm view that this economically embattled nation of ours can make a turnaround within the next two to three years –– if the “correct measures” could be put in place. Such manifestation would undoubtedly give us all authentic and substantiated grand cause to be celebrating a half-century of progressive Independent nationhood.

Giving the final lecture for the year in the Barbados Chamber of Commerce’s monthly series at Hilton Barbados last Wednesday, Ms Mottley didn’t exactly present a list of these desirable “measures”, but did underscore a benchmark –– her reference point to a one-eighty by our Government: “a national conversation” in which priorities are identified and their competent discharge effected.

We are not unmindful of the fact that the Opposition Leader is not exceedingly impressed by the leadership of the Freundel Stuart administration, and that her observations this week may have been tinged by some partisanship, but her concerns at heart need not be ignored. While being possibly listed with other “war-ravaged” nations of the world is a significant extremeness for Barbados, Miss Mottley’s apprehension about increased attacks upon the person and property –– given our ongoing economic and social challenges –– is legitimate and worthy of the note it deserves.

It is no secret this “national conversation” –– this public inspirational dialogue –– is majorly lacking, with only critical Government communication offered in spurts and more sadly in reactionary circumstances. It need not be so!

Our Government has that pivotal role of informing us of the national state of affairs –– no matter how unpleasant –– and assuring us of a feasible plan out of any woes; to boot, of encouraging us all to do our bit to make our economy more sound –– no matter how unwished for the counsel might be, or how it might derail our comfort modes.

The point is: public revelation and intercommunication with the people!

All right-thinking Barbadians have things to accomplish; for those who will not give up, dreams to work on and goals of a better life we would rather pursue. The tardier of us often put off “until tomorrow” what we ought to have done today –– or we have others (those to whom we look for leadership) putting it off for us.

Excuses are never sparse, and the verbiage and logorrhoea of officialdom –– when communication does ring a note –– can be unfruitful and burdensome.

Yes, let us dream, but alongside setting serious and realizable goals. But we need to show some unison and understanding –– between the community at large and the political class, as Prime Minster Stuart calls it –– if our national, political and social goals shall materialize.

But we cannot put it off until our 50th Independence anniversary –– for mere show!

The British publisher, poet and philanthropist Felix Dennis once advised: “You have less time than you think. We all do . . . . If you do not start today, then when will you? You will never start unless you start now, [committing] yourself heart and soul.”

We approve. From today, we expect those we entrust to act on our behalf, to manage our national affairs and to lead us to understand not only the seriousness of urgent action and timely and inspirational articulation and connection, but as well the gravity of competency and example –– and with respect!

Our Father Of Independence National Hero Errol Walton Barrow often alluded to that respect –– once deeply embedded in the psyche of our people, who had “a reputation for being polite and courteous”. And it was this that underpinned his boast that “the fact that we have Independence would not mean that we are animals cut loose and running around in circles”.

Distressfully, over time many of us have come to confuse Independence with licence.

Socrates once lamented that the “city full of freedom and frankness”, where “a man may say and do what he likes”, and everyone “is clearly able to order for himself his own life as he pleases” was bound to have an end result of “variety and disorder”.

The tenet that freedom and Independence are properly and responsibly honed within the contexts of limits, values, mores and virtue is what our Father Of Independence stood by. The Right Excellent Errol Barrow would be horrified to return and discover what freedom and Independence mean to many of us today: doing as we like –– politically, intellectually, morally, sexually, indulging in all manner of depravity as perfected by our former colonizers.

We must never lose the significance of the lowering of the Union Jack and raising of the Broken Trident on that wet midnight of November 30, 1966, ever mindful that beyond the patriotic lighting and bunting, freedom’s responsibility demands of us undefiled virtues as a citizenry.

Notwithstanding, a blessed Independence to all!

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