Every time Barbados enters an election period the quote attributed to the late John F. Kennedy (JFK) comes to mind – “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country“. It is said that droves of young people offered themselves for public service as a result of Kennedy glamourizing what the blogmaster considers to be the ultimate act of selflessness – offering oneself to serve the people.
As a young boy growing up starry eyed under the Bajan flag in the post 1966 period, we were inspired by that generation of Barbadian who inculcated values which aligned with the Kennedy quote. We lived at a time social centres were a hive of activity for sport, assisting with teaching skills to residents in the locale, hosting limes and many other community building activities. Most if not all so-called community practitioners were to be found a dime a dozen.
It was close to mandatory for young boys and girls to be members of the 4H Club, Boys Scouts, Girls Guide, YMCA and the numerous other civic non profit associations which all combined to foster requite skills to prepare us for future leadership roles. These types of engagements have not totally disappeared from the landscape of Barbados but one senses there is a relationship between non interest being shown by citizens in community and non profit associations and a diminishing attitude and focus in nation building behaviour.
We have concentrated and allocated billions of the national budget to growing a paper-middleclass in the last three or four decades. The consequence of which has been the emergence of a strident political directorate more concerned with feathering the nest by securing everything financial at the expense of serving with love. This is the root cause of the societal decay we continue to witness on the tiny island of Barbados in 2020. Unfortunately a scan outside of the local orb reveals that this is a universal trend.
Perhaps it is a simplistic view but the blogmaster argues that because of our small size and heavy investment in educating our people in the last 40 years – to the doom and gloomers nothing is perfect – we should be able to offer a better defence to protect from alien customs that have compromised the Barbados model we use to be admired.
We look to politicians moulded from a dysfunctional social system and wonder why things are not changing for the better. Successive governments continue to rollout policies that encourage conspicuous consumption habits, allow rampant undisciplined behaviour at the level of the individual and household, embrace all things foreign and then we wonder why has the Barbadiana brand faded. In a world where globalization is the new way, it is inevitable we will have to manage a level of multiculturalism entering our space. However, we cannot allow it to be dominant to the extent it subsumes homegrown customs which define who we prefer to be as a people.
To return to the community model on an island that measures 166 square miles cannot be too hard. Having 200,000 motors cars, mobile phones and an illegal gun in too many homes should not define who we want to be. What has to define us is our ability to cut and contrive, to assist our neighbour in times of stress, for each citizen to understand roles and responsibilities towards making Barbados the best country on the planet..feel free to add to the list. In other words we cannot leave any man, woman or child behind. An egalitarian society is idealistic but we need to strive for it.
Lastly for those offering themselves for political office to be always mindful of what JFK said – “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country“