Moving beyond complaining to problem-solving

Barbadians have developed a reputation for being perrenial complainers. So much so that it appears sometimes as if this tendency is embedded in our DNA.

Complaining is not altogether negative, as some believe. Indeed, complaining can serve a useful purpose if it results in bringing attention to bear on vexing problems and then spurring decisive action that results in the development and delivery of satisfactory solutions.

Such would represent a positive benefit. On the other hand, complaining can have a negative effect by acting as an obstacle to progress if people directly affected by the issue become trapped in a mindset which stifles their ability to shift the focus away from just griping about the particular problem towards creative problem-solving.

Does Barbados finds itself in this hapless predicament? It is an issue on the table for consideration. However, public debate in this country seems to have become so heavily focused on problems that it seems sometimes that we are hopelessly incapable of looking beyond to find solutions, even though in reality this is not the case.

Every person is blessed with problem-solving ability. The main challenge, however, is finding the will which opens the way. Come to really think about it, some of the problems being discussed in Barbados today have been around for a long time. In some instances, because of a lack of a decisive intervention, they have steadily become worse over time.

What is interesting about this national tendency for complaining is that it is not just limited to individuals but also extends to the corridors of Government where ultimate responsibility lies for solving problems at the national level. We see evidence of this, for example, when an incumbent administration, persistently blames its predecessor for existing problems.

At any rate, the electorate would have already dealt harshly with the previous Government by voting it out of office. In opting for change, voters naturally  would have hoped that a new Government would fix the problems left by its predecessor and certainly do much better. That expectation is what drives decisions to vote for change.

We also see evidence of the tendency to complain from time to time when senior officials, including ministers, complain about the existence of problems as if somehow the solutions are elusive. It certainly would be better to come before the public and articulate proposals for solutions instead of complaining, which convey an impression of being powerless to do anything.

Under the present administration, a recurring complaint has been about the existence of extensive bureaucratic red tape and the negative effect it is having on the country’s development by, for example, turning off some investors, and contributing to inefficiencies for business that in some cases push up prices for the consumer. If Government lacks the political will to fix these vexing bureaucratic problems which are hurting the island’s development, then who else will?

A fundamental function of Government is to fix problems which affect the collective well-being of citizens in one way or another and also stand in the way of their collective quest for an improved quality of life. That is one of the main reasons why governments are elected in the first place.

So, when officials just complain about problems without articulating an approach to delivering solutions, it calls into question the extent of the government’s effectiveness. That having been said, some problems admittedly are easier to solve than others. In some cases, problems are systemic. Coming up with effective solutions in such cases requires persistence and commitment.

In many cases, government, although it has legislative power at its disposal, is unable to solve a problem singlehandedly. The ability to do so hinges on winning the support and cooperation of various stakeholders who have an interest in the particular issue. Which underscores an important role for  communication to convince such stakeholders that cooperation will advance their interest.

In less than a year, Barbadians will vote in a general election that will take place against a backdrop of unprecedented social, economic and political problems which, in different ways, pose a serious threat to the country’s future. Let this not be another occasion for complaining or diverting attention from the pressing issues by attacking personalities as if this is the solution.

The forthcoming campaign can serve a useful purpose if it is seen as an opportunity by the various parties to engage Barbadians in a meaningful conversation on solutions and also demonstrate that they possess the  political will to follow through with implementation. Now more than ever, that is what the country needs more of.

4 Responses to Moving beyond complaining to problem-solving

  1. Jennifer April 5, 2017 at 1:44 am

    Same ole plantation behavior. We shall over come “some day”. They don’t want to beat off the rust, to get the wheels moving, they would rather stay stuck.

  2. Bajan First April 5, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Some of the comments heard from some members of Government leave one with little hope. They seem to be saying that there is little that can be done to reverse the downward spiral, hence a change in government would be of little benefit! I don’t think that argument will be accepted by the voters. Solutions must be presented not only by the incumbent but by any party wishing to lead this country. The electorate will not accept that those wanting to lead cannot expose their solutions in fear of them being stolen by opponents! We will know whose they are. We are demanding solutions to the problems facing the country, not excuses and blame.
    I am however aware of the hindrance which Unions can place on the plans of a government to implement changes especially those which require workers to do things differently even when it is for the greater good! The threats of strikes and shutdowns often win and the status code of low productive and arcate practices continue while the country suffers

  3. Jea Alleyne April 5, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    The ONLY solution to the current problems can be solved by Accountability. Its ALL about money and Government handles large sums of the tax payers money which is not being invested where it needs to be. It is simple. However, the powers that be are not interested in improving the Country. We also have a problem of “its all about me” as opposed to “For the Good of All”. Just like the citizens have to account where their money comes from, produce bank statements and invoices. So should the Government, more so the Government. Lead by example.

    All the progressive nations have the Freedom of Information Act, it allows citizens to be more involved in the workings of Government, transparency, accountability, improve decision making, enable the public to better understand decision making processes & engages public participation in politics. Barbados equates itself to certain things in the UK but is it never the Legislation that protects its citizens. The UK and the US citizens have the FOI…..I suppose Barbadians are not considered worthy of knowing what the Government does like the UK and US citizens.

  4. Jea Alleyne April 5, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I suppose our Ancesters could only complain, seeing as we come from the stock of enslaved people and genetics has a lot to do with our makeup. When were the enslaved taught to stand up for their rights……Never !!


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