The George Brathwaite Column – Discipline!
Barbados needs a strong dose of societal discipline. The prescription will only be helpful if this begins with the individual and is clearly exhibited at the level of national leadership. This solution is one of the few available ways that remain open to Barbados if we are going to be able to deliver, and make the island live up to national expectations. Employers must set examples; and who better to calm the rough waters in industrial relations than the government as a model employer respecting employees’ rights? People must be motivated and encouraged to work productively rather than loathe on the job. Managers need to do their work, and show the type of discipline that can enhance productivity in the workplace.
Economically, there must be fiscal discipline so that the country is not consistently spending more than it is earning, and increased taxation is not the end all in trying to achieve revenues for which tools for attracting investments and earning foreign exchange could rather do. How else can Barbados get back to helping people transform this society and achieve good standards of living? Barbadians owe it to themselves to press the state’s economists and policymakers to be more timely with their decision-making, and to be more transparent in their dealings depending on the public purse. Do we have the discipline that the Auditor General is demanding in each report that he furnishes to the authorities, but which they seem oblivious to the findings?
Regardless of all the intellectual, technical, financial, and any other capacities that are brought to bear on national governance, it is discipline that maintains orders, streamlines procedures, and bring a much stronger sense of legality to the process. It is discipline that will help to facilitate the social transformation that is needed if Barbados is to halt the rapid decline to values in our society. At the end of the day, it is law and order, strong ethics, and the commitment to doing the right things; these things constitute the necessary discipline for a nation that has seemingly lost its way over the last few years.
Civic-minded persons and leaders from across the various sectors, inclusive of trade unions, need to encourage and challenge the nation to follow best practices which are built and expanded on the platform of discipline. Priests and pastors, managers and captains, general secretaries and presidents, as well as an enterprising crop of youth leaders need not be meek, but offer constructive criticisms. They must be willing to identify problems and call situations as they see them while seeking to commensurately provide possible solutions to the nation’s problems. While lofty places and the preaching of fire and brimstone from the pulpits may shock some, it is surely better than one is not so pompous as to sit at respective political gates singing the hallelujah chorus without exemplifying the discipline currently needed in the society.
It is about joining hand in hand and combining our efforts to raise up each other to be better than the day before. Let the strong help the weak, the rich help the poor, and the orderly speak out against disorder. Surely, the Barbados society will likely recognise that even amidst differing perspectives and approaches to national development, the bottom-line still demands disciplined politicians and disciplined public servants that are all committed to law and order, and good governance.
As the investor, economist, and writer George Gilder advocates: “Spontaneous order is self-contradictory. Spontaneity connotes the ebullition of surprises. It is highly entropic and disorderly.” On the other hand, order “connotes predictability and equilibrium” which essentially translates to increased certainty and fairness in our systems of social and legal enterprise. Barbados has reached a stage where it must revisit the moral codes and messages that are passing off as reasons to exclude rather than include. Once again, we must strive towards the personal discipline in our affairs that allow integrity to shine like a beacon on the hill.
Things such as predictability, reliability, trustworthiness, dependability are the things needed to boost all aspects of Barbados’ governance. Discipline and order require political guidance, and leadership that is incorruptible and which does not refute truth or bow at the behest of snares. It takes the courage and sacrifice necessary to enforce and defend good values in the pursuit of building a disciplined Barbados. In other words, all of those things that this country expects by way of achievements and enhanced prosperity are demanding social organisation and order through the route of discipline. Barbados’ next few years will demand planned action wrapped into the type of discipline that helps the island to once again punch above its body weight.
In fact, order is a product of human activity that emerges from chaos. It is our business to fix the problems that are currently affecting this nation. It may be the economists and politicians to fix the economy by showing fiscal prudence and implementing practices which lead to good governance. However, the individuals of the society must do things not to give rise to chaos and disarray. We must as a duty, be determined to be firm craftsmen and women of our combined fate, and surely be strict guardians of our heritage which was built on both discipline and resilience. There will always be room for improvement once we choose the disciplined pathways in getting things done the right ways.
In the same way that “chaos half-loosed cannot be long controlled,” it is fair to say, that with discipline we can begin to channel our thoughts in structured ways to get things cleaner roads and highways without the coconut shells littering the shoulders or blocking drains which eventually contribute to flooding. Barbadians will naturally plead for better facilities but these must not be allowed to fall into disrepair because we were too consumed to be sufficiently disciplined and maintain our buildings and centres. Now is not the time for Barbadians to continue being unruly and ill-disciplined.
Barbadians like any other just society expects happiness; we want others to say good things about our little Barbados. This means we need to be like the farmers recognizing when and what to plant if they are to be able to reap bountiful crops. As Joyce Meyer writing about achieving true happiness suggests, “when discipline is sown, like a good seed, it yields a harvest of things that fulfill and satisfy us; things that make us happy and release peace and joy in our lives.” Today, this writer is calling on the citizens and residents of Barbados, to let us play our part in contributing to proper law and order. Let us demand good governance for the improvement of this Barbados society.
Barbados will not become socially transformed, economically prosperous, and culturally rich simply by wishing these things. Discipline is the key and it must be evident in our attitudes and behaviour whether in the work place or at home. The evidence of a disciplined society will also tell as we travel along the highways or whether we are shopping in the markets. Regardless of if we are students or church-goers, young or old, mechanic or politician, Barbados is our home. The discipline we apply in our daily routines will transcend our lives and become manifest across the nation.
(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)