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STRONG SUIT: Vulgarity at the core

Dennis Strong

STRONG SUIT: Vulgarity at the core

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I have had some very interesting conversations with a diverse group of people regarding what is most needed to restore Barbados to its former economic and social dynamism.
    Interesting, because many telling points emerged despite the fact that the insights came from parties who were of diverse socio-economic and political perspectives. I am very saddened by the continued politicization of Barbados’ current state of decline.
    My professional reflex is to dig past the blaming and “duelling solutions” to seek root causes. Otherwise the procession of cosmetic, disconnected fixes will continue and the productive energies of all who wish us well will be dissipated. It is time for us to row in the Bsame direction.
   One of the conversations raised the  question of the omnipresence of profanity in our environment. As we talked, I recalled instances of people walking past my house conversing loudly, with expletives being freely used.
   I have vivid recollections of cursing matches on public beaches, taxi stands, and toward me personally when I made some stupid driving error or had the nerve to ask revving motorcyclists to be quieter in a residential area. I have heard vendors curse visitors for not wanting to buy what they were selling and then turn to offer a false smile to the next passer-by.
ZR culture an influence
   Of course, this is not new but represents an increasing trend that is deafening and debilitating. Didn’t the free school bus initiative come as a means of reducing the influence of “ZR culture” on schoolchildren, only to be confronted with increasing spectacles of crudeness in Parliament?
   When you think about the importance of tourism to Barbados and what effect these attitudes and behaviours have on the overall visitor experience, it raises many questions. How believable is the smile coming from someone who has just behaved so? From families with children, how often would you want them exposed to this?
   How many of you still pay attention to the stench when you walk between expensive retail stores and have to pass an area used as a public urinal? Have we become immune to this boorishness or do we just turn a blind eye?
   This vulgarity is trampling the goodwill that made people talk of Barbados as “paradise” and return year after year. We prefer to attribute the shorter stays, smaller spends and defections to other Caribbean destinations, to external factors over which we have no control. No amount of fiscal
belt-tightening, workforce retrenchment and new marketing strategies can hope to succeed if this moral abyss remains as our foundation. It is easy to see how a lack discipline, integrity and respect are compromising our future.
   Another of the conversations I spoke of was with a dedicated teacher who gave a glowing testimonial to the free school bus programme.
   She spoke to how her students arrived more open to learning than when they were subjected to barrages of profanity and disrespect to start their day. It is ironic that political vitriol has prevented recognition of this positive outcome.
   There are other examples of good things and successful undertakings that are being drowned out by the noise at the barricades. Let’s find them, share them and build upon them. Most of all, let’s exercise more respect, thoughtfulness and caring; not as an opportunistic façade but as genuine acts of redemptive behaviour.
  Let’s choose our words and actions more carefully. God bless.