EDITORIAL: Much to gain from Mandela way
AS PEOPLE ACROSS the world observe today as Nelson Mandela Day, it is an opportune time for Barbadians to stop and have some introspection of themselves and their nation.
This country has been through a recent period of bitterness and acrimony and if we are to learn anything from the turmoil, then there is no one better to look to than that late great South African. There is a lot to gain by trying to practise what he exemplified during his lifetime.
Mandela, who would have celebrated his 97 birthday today, was indeed a legend in his own time. He cannot be deified, but he had extraordinary qualities as shown by his words and actions. He was about achieving reconciliation rather than seeking revenge.
He never allowed the brutal and cruel apartheid movement to shatter his hopes and his dreams of a better tomorrow for millions of black South Africans. His 27 years behind bars never killed his spirit but rather he learnt to deal with despair in circumstances filled with hate, anger and even brutality. Yet, through and from it all he emerged with a better focus.
The industrial relations upheaval in Barbados over the past two weeks has undoubtedly left many scars and bruises with people from either side of the divide determined that their position was the correct and only one. Neither the love of country nor indeed the welfare of their fellow man appeared to be the paramount concern. The country is in a cooling-off period and while the anger may have subsided, the well-entrenched root of the problem is still there.
Barbados is financially stressed and facing numerous problems. The national debt is indeed weighing down on the country and by extension most people. It is going to be a delicate balancing act going forward as the situation unfolds.
If this situation is to be amicably resolved then there must be trust and goodwill on either side of the table. While we expect those in leadership positions to be resolute in purpose and showing a conviction for justice and equality for all, the overall health of the nation must not be compromised. We are also very clear that ours is not a situation that can be wished away.
This nation has never been and will hardly ever be a homogenous society but one where people hold different opinions and varied views. Our politicians, both those in Government and Opposition, as well as private sector and labour leaders must understand that their roles include embracing differences and surmounting conflict to help lead this nation through this challenging period.
The Mandela touch is truly needed in Barbados by all its leaders at this time. They must make hard choices. But, whatever the decisions, they must not rupture the nation.