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AS I SEE THINGS: A new era in public discourse

Brian M. Francis, [email protected]

AS I SEE THINGS: A new era in public discourse

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AS BARBADOS CELEBRATES 50 years as a politically independent country, there is much that one can reflect on from living and working in this beautiful country.

Whether it is the rise to pervasive acclaim of singing sensations such as Rihanna and Red Plastic Bag; the political drama that takes place from time to time that subsequently resulted, for instance, in the removal of a prime minister who lost a no-confidence motion in the Lower House of Parliament; or a major hurricane that was supposed to strike the country but miraculously by-passed our shores, this “gem of the Caribbean” more often than not ends up in a situation of relative comfort.

Subsequently, some have become extremely bold in their open declarations that “God is a Bajan”.

On the economic side, this country, like many others, has witnessed its ups and downs, but again bounces back very well on each occasion, proving that it has the capacity to be resilient when it matters most.

Part of that resilience has to do with the exposure that we the people would have had over several decades to top quality education in and out of the island that has created a pool of human resource capacity that is the envy of some.

For that reason, I spare no punches when responding to economic and financial issues that are presented to the public from time to time by ministers of finance and governors of the Central Bank because we should all be well poised to accept opinions that are different. Our educational standards demand that.

Since we live in the real world, it is not surprising that some of my comments and analyses are treated with disdain. I could understand that. After all, human beings can become highly emotional and receptive to words and actions they deem hurtful. Still, the public has a right to be presented with alternative perspectives based on the facts and that is why my voice will forever be heard.

To overcome that challenge, I want, therefore, to call for a new era in public discourse in this country. First, more Barbadians should start writing on all things that affect us as a people.

This country cannot grow and develop from all fronts – economically, culturally, politically, legally and socially – if as citizens affected by all the goings-on we remain silent as if nothing of significance is taking place around us.

And second, our political leaders, leading trade unionists, the clergy, principals and teachers, cultural ambassadors, historians and other influential persons among us are urged to become more mature and open-minded when confronting issues and facing criticisms from others – criticisms designed to uplift the nation, not pull it apart.

You see, Barbados did not achieve the level of development on display by accident. Yes, the country got “lucky” along the way, but its overall transformation was mostly by design. Hard work, sacrifices by the people, doggedness and a strong sense of pride have all combined to take this country to the mountain top. The challenge we now face is how to remain there.

And that is precisely why, going forward, we need a new era – an era in which we approach matters of national significance with the level of seriousness and creativity that are called for in order to generate outcomes that can only redound to the good of our people and country. Period!

Let the beginning of that new era start in our 50th year of Independence.

Email: [email protected]