Points To Ponder
Dear Reader, very often one comes across a piece of correspondence that absolutely floors you. In cricketing terms, it’s called an unplayable delivery. You simply do not know what to do with it. You are left dazed! In such circumstances, I have opted over the years to simply pass it on; share it with others and hear what they say. See if their reaction is similar to yours.
The following is a piece of correspondence that was shared with me by a fellow writer at the Barbados Advocate who also was floored by the sincerity and forthrightness of the author, whom none of us knew and who, to this day, remains anonymous. It does not matter who the author was, what matters is that out there in Bajan country, are persons who are sitting up and taking note of the downward spiral in Barbados journalism.
Dear Reader, I shall share the contents of the correspondence, which came in the form of a Letter to the Editor, and offer no further comment…at this time.
Thank you for preserving the dignity of the Prime Minister at this most distressing time.
While your neighbour and competitor seem to thrive on classless, insensitive journalism I want to encourage you to continue to take the high road. Less than twenty-four hours after our Prime Minister did what none of us would ever wished to be faced with, the electronic edition of the Nation Newspaper launched an opinion poll which posed the question, and I will paraphrase – Should the Prime Minister reveal to the nation the nature of his illness?.
What I wonder has informed this question. Is it not enough that he has told us that he is ill – so ill in fact that he has asked us to continue to pray for him and craved our forbearance while he attends to his health? I emphasize ‘continue’ because I know as a people we Barbadians always pray for our leaders.
Does the public’s right to know trump a fellow human being’s right to dignity – even if he happens to be the Prime Minister? If we find out the detail of what ails him will that change the course of the events that have unfolded so far? Is it that we wish to ascertain whether the illness that has stricken our Prime Minister is contagious so that it is in the nature of a threat to public health? I think not? What will we be asking for next – what medication he is on or what diet has he been following?
We must resist the unfortunate human condition which tends to gossip. I would expect our media houses should feel a sense of responsibility in making sure that while they fearlessly and impartially report the news they do not lower our common standards of decency and propriety which I hope we still hold dear.
Unfortunately, the Internet poll was one of three offerings from the Nation which I found particularly distasteful. The second was the image of the PM on the front page. Again, whether or not his current state was plastered on the front of today’s paper, the revelation of him handing over the reins of government to his deputy is already newsworthy. This is not a question of the public’s right to know – we know – PM Thompson laid bare his condition on television just the night before.
The dignity of the man, as husband, father and leader of this nation is what is at stake. Why can we not use the ‘official’ photos of our Prime Minister even now? Do you think we will forget that he is not well?
Equally disingenuous to both the Prime Minister and his Deputy – at least in my view – was the cartoon depicting the PM taking a step down and his seemingly gleeful Deputy stepping up to the top tier of a podium. How absolutely uncalled for! Has the Attorney-General won some hard-fought prize? Has he ousted his colleague and leader from power? Absolutely not! This is not a power struggle that has been determined.
I sincerely hope that this brand of journalism is not in an effort to boost sales. I expect it is not a secret that the Nation’s current circulation is enviable. Can we please put ourselves in the PM’s shoes and follow the oldest maxim – love one another as God loves us. In our speech, in our actions and especially in our reporting let us treat our Prime Minister as we would wish to be treated – especially in this time of illness.
Congratulations Mr. Editor in handling the Prime Minister and your readership with the dignity and respect we deserve.
Dear Reader, what can I say? I do not propose further comment at this stage…but, rest assured, further comment will come! The backdrop to the foregoing will be shared with all Barbados…in the fullness of time.
But I find myself humming to the strains of one of Mighty Gabby’s classics: One Day Coming Soon…the people will wake up!
Hartley Henry is a Regional Political Strategist. He can be reached at email@example.com