EDITORIAL: A time ripe for reflection
In another two days we will be celebrating Independence Day, and some time will be taken by all of us to reflect on what it means to be independent in a world that has become more of a village, and a little more challenging as the Great Recession bites its way deeper into our pockets and threatens our very way of life.
It has not been the easiest of years. Her Majesty once referred to 1992 as annus horribillis – a horrible year – and in some respects Barbadians may be forgiven if they adopted that as their personal description of this year. We reflect at once on the illness and death of our sixth Prime Minister David Thompson at a tender age, and we recognise the damage which Tomas has wrought upon the physical landscape.
We are also conscious of the continuing threat to our economic affairs, and as we so reflect on these things, our minds go right back to our National Anthem which is one of our enduring symbols of Independence.
Our anthem speaks to a certain Barbadian resilience, even in the face of major difficulties, as we seek to demonstrate that there is nothing the Barbadian spirit of enterprise and faith cannot conquer. It is true that we have faced the loss of our national leader on two previous occasions, but this year the loss of our Prime Minister occurs at a time when the economy and the damage of a hurricane stretches our national resolve as never before.
Our Constitution, that most potent of all our symbols of nationhood, has once again stood the test of time and the scrupulous observance of the spirit and letter of the law has effected a smooth transfer of authority from one administration to another without any ruffling of feathers.
From time to time there have been calls for such changes as would further cement and emphasize our national sovereignty by our becoming a republic within the Commonwealth. That change may eventually come, and when and if it does, one expects that arrangements will be made for the fullest expression of the national opinion.
Yet it is clear that at this juncture Barbadians already accept that the Constitution is ours, and that ever since 1966 we have fashioned and interpreted it consistent with the high ideals of our aspirations. It may have been hammered out in the chambers of the Colonial Office, but we have by practice and respectful observation made it our own.
Time and again it has therefore worked and we all need to recognise just how important this iconic plank of our Independence provides the bedrock foundation on which we have implanted our economic arrangements that provide jobs, taxes and safety nets of one kind or another.
The challenge which we face at this time will call for those same reserves of strength of purpose, tenacity of spirit and abiding faith in the power of good values, as our forebears must surely have exhibited during the dark centuries of enslavement.
In the Budget Debate the Government called for a national effort at shared sacrifice as we were urged to tighten our belts and put our hands to the plough.
We support this national call and pledge to do our bit to encourage the national psyche to conquer what our first Prime Minister Errol Barrow used to refer to as “the commanding heights of the economy”, for in truth we are a nation.