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AS I SEE THINGS: Time to grow up

Brian M. Francis, [email protected]

AS I SEE THINGS: Time to grow up

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AS I REFLECT on economic and political developments in Barbados and the wider Caribbean over the past several years, it is becoming more apparent that one of the major problems plaguing our small island states is the lack of maturity among those who are charged with the responsibility of leading our countries to the proverbial mountaintop. That immaturity is reflected in many different ways but none more prominent than the manner in which our leaders respond to criticisms, predominantly those deemed political in nature.

Often, this writer’s reaction to those leades who continuously display that sort of attitude is, please grow up! A few years ago, your humble servant presented to the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry an analysis of the 2011 Budget and some simple and technically sound comments created a firestorm in Barbados with politicians on the government side attacking the messenger rather than addressing the substance of the comments made.

That entire episode was shocking because one would have thought that in a country where “free” education is constantly being touted as a major pillar of economic and social success that those in political leadership positions would be more mature and tolerant of other people’s intellectual talent and contributions to debates on issues of national importance.

Last week, the Minister of Finance in Trinidad and Tobago complained publicly about the behaviour of that country’s Central Bank Governor, who disclosed that the economy was officially in recession without consulting the finance minister on the matter before the disclosure. Given the laws governing the operations of the central bank, did the governor act with maturity? This week, I have a message for all those in leadership positions in Barbados and throughout the Caribbean. And the message comes from a very interesting source. On November 23 president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Dr Everett Piper, published a piece entitiled This Is Not A Day Care. It’s A University!

The article starts this way: “This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt ‘victimised’ by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable . . . . Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them, and thus, makes them ‘feel bad’ about themselves, is a ‘hater’, a ‘bigot’, an ‘oppressor’, and a ‘victimiser’. I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience.”

The exposé continues: “Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a ‘safe place’, but rather a place to learn: to learn that life isnt’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt, that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.”

Now to our leaders. Is life always about you? Are you above criticisms? Whatever your responses to those two questions, experience teaches us that it is time for you to grow up. Barbados and other Caribbean countries will be much better places to live and work if you do. So, will you?

Email: [email protected]