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Treat them like human beings, not statistics

rhondathompson, [email protected]

Treat them like human beings, not statistics

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Across this country there are countless Barbadians who use their pride to build walls that effectively mask their true circumstances. Many of us have learnt to struggle while never offering a hint of our pain to even our closest neighbours.
It is a phenomenon that is not restricted to individuals, for many organisations have developed the art of treating the people with whom they interact as faceless clients devoid of the capacity to feel pain or show emotion. For all the talk of individual politicians, governments still so often treat those who elected them as nothing more than statistics.
And that brings us to the essence of our position – that across the board as Barbadians, we have been discussing and responding to the current round of layoffs in the public sector as statistics and not decisions that impact people in a way that we would not wish on ourselves.
Our natural instinct for survival says: “Take her, not me!”, “I have a mortgage to pay, not him”, “She young and don’t have responsibilities so she can afford to go home”. And the list could go on and on.
Then along comes someone like St Thomas resident Judy Archer [as featured in the last WEEKEND NATION] who has been sent home by the National Conservation Commission after 12 years of service, and who has been so stripped of “pride” in her current predicament that she has no problem bearing her entire soul – and then some more.
She’s 49, a mother of nine with three still at school; a grandmother of five, ages nine years to three weeks; with a drug addicted daughter who is of no help to her own children.
Now add to the “statistic” another daughter who had been looking forward to entering the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, the first in her family to do so, but who has now seen her future virtually collapse in front of her face.
These are not statistics; they are real people feeling real pain, living with real fears of a most uncertain future. When politicians make decisions, these are the real people they impact. When senior civil servants move to implement the policy decisions of these politicians, these are the people who suffer the pain. When trade unionists engage in public games of semantics and then ride off into the sunset, these people represent the human suffering they leave behind.
No, Mr Minister; no Mr Chairman; no Miss Head of Department, these are not faceless people. They are our brothers and sisters who stay awake all night worrying over what tomorrow holds, and then agonising all day wondering if they will be able to sleep the next night.
Comments such as “young people have to learn to invest in their education” only insult Bajans like Archer’s daughter because she can hardly invest in a meal, far less contemplate paying thousands of dollars in tuition fees.
            Perhaps if we see the human in the people around us, our decisions, our comments and our actions concerning them will be much different.