EDITORIAL: Understanding social change
FEW PEOPLE who are sensitive to the mood of our nation would dare attempt to deny the virtually palpable air of disquiet that characterizes the populace, ironically even during November, the month when we are expected to feel particularly positive about ourselves and our country.
There can also be little doubt that this pervasive unsettled feeling is to a large extent being fuelled by the rapid, profound and extensive changes being experienced across our native land, to the extent that some of the deeply religious among us have been led to lament that “the world is coming to an end”.
Such a doomsday prediction is somewhat understandable when people at large, generally accustomed for some time to a predictable and stable but not static way of life, are now confronted almost on a daily basis by stresses in both their social and economic circumstances, thereby providing further evidence that these two sectors are inextricably intertwined.
But on a wider scale, that with which Barbadians are essentially having to grapple is the fact that societies as a whole are constantly undergoing change.
Social change being therefore a natural and inevitable phenomenon, the major concern of the citizens and leaders of a society like ours should be the management of this given, as is reflected both in government (what is done) and governance (how it is done) to the sustainable benefit of all the people and the institutions.
So while a great deal of emphasis is usually and justifiably placed on the quality of life of individual citizens, families and other human groupings, there is also an underappreciated need for equal importance to be attached to the integrity and viability of the institutions that are essential to the functioning of the nation, the attainment of its goals and the reinforcement of its norms and values.
And it is in the realm of the latter goals and values – that many people also claim they see reflected most clearly what they consider as the “change for the worse” or the decline in the society, failing to realize that it is not possible for them to undergo changes in other areas of life and at the same time retain traditional values untouched
The truth is that what are now considered so-called traditional values are in themselves products of change and that it is that very same change process which they are seeing going on around them and causing them to feel some uncertainty about the direction in which they perceive their beloved country to be going.
Hopefully, the recognition and comprehension of these natural forces at work will go some way towards easing the anxiety of people and thereby assist them in better coping with the ups and downs of everyday life and their sense of security and overall well-being.