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Pride in the gutter

Carl Moore

Pride in the gutter

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Pride is the satisfaction you feel when you have done something well. My Collins dictionary also says that if you take pride in something you have or in something you have achieved, you feel pleased and happy about it; that pride is also a feeling of dignity and self-respect.

Pride is also something you have to swallow at times.

Mr Neville Connell and his assistant Mrs Hilda Ince must have had those thoughts in mind when they designed the Barbados Coat Of Arms with that word, along with “industry”, in our National Motto.

Canadians Paul Duff and Terence Browitt and their wives, no doubt, as regular visitors, have been entertained, perhaps more than once, by a proud Barbados Prime Minister at the official residence, Ilaro Court. They’ve been told how much we welcome them and value their frequent visits and their contribution to our economic upkeep.

The visitors in turn compliment Barbadians for our hospitality and charm, but we let them down by the untidy way we display our pride and beauty. Some let us know in no uncertain terms of their disappointment. They feel short-changed.

Mr Duff wrote a letter to the editor late last year. He said he wanted to keep coming back to Barbados and hoped that “next time the island will look as clean as the pristine photos you use for advertising”. What a rebuke!

Mr Browitt and his wife usually spend (note the tourism meaning of that word) four weeks here “to get away from the severity of the Canadian winters” and like Mr Duff, are appalled at the increasing amount of litter and garbage left beside the roads and on vacant lots.

Last week I took this picture of an open lot at No. 74 Turquoise Avenue, Rock Dundo Park, Cave Hill, St Michael, where someone tossed a tray of 30 eggs, providing a weeklong feast for rats.


End to behaviour

Visitors like the Duffs and the Browitts – and many of our citizens – expect more pride from us Barbadians and they hope “that the people of Barbados can bring an end to this negligent behaviour as soon as possible”.

The Browitts see our dirty island as a major blemish and expect us to do better when they return later this year on their sixth consecutive visit.

They’re only a few of the thousands who are disappointed in the way we treat our environment. They’re among the few who bother to tell us; many others don’t bother to return or recommend us to anyone else.

Any minute now, we can expect the minister of the environment, for the umpteenth time, to pop up with his perennial promise of “wide-ranging” environmental legislation, as soon as “Cabinet approves”. But as I have said on many previous occasions, the problem is not Dr Denis Lowe’s alone; or even the Cabinet’s. It’s our problem.

Kurt Vonnegut, in A Man Without A Country, wrote: “Human beings have trashed the joint. I don’t think people give a damn whether the planet goes on or not. Everyone is living as members of Alcoholics Anonymous do: day by day. I know of very few people who are dreaming of a world for their grandchildren.”

One morning last year I saw two visitors at Browne’s Beach picking up our litter. They filled two jumbo garbage bags with all manner of garbage before they could do what we invited them here for – enjoy the sea and the sun. I was embarrassed.

Is this what proud Barbados has come to as we approach 50 years of what we call Independence, buttressed by the motto: Pride And Industry?

When the Duffs and the Browitts and the thousands of other visitors return in the months ahead, will they find the same, and more, plastic cups, bottles, KFC and Chefette snack boxes, styrofoam containers, old umbrellas and mattresses, even condoms, on our highways, roads, avenues, alleys, open lots, gutters and beaches?

– Carl Moore