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WHAT MATTERS MOST: The village or the party?

DR CLYDE MASCOLL, [email protected]

WHAT MATTERS MOST: The village or the party?

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“LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF is the greatest love of all.” These words are from one of the greatest songs ever written about children and their future.

The greatest gift of all is to instil in them how to think. The combination of love and thought teaches how not to be selfish with both gifts. Furthermore, the process involved in understanding what the two gifts mean clarifies how to share and value them.

In my ongoing search to understand where Barbados is at socially and economically, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are Barbadians blessed with these gifts who are prepared not to share them beyond their private spaces.

There is a sense in which the state of the country is not their public concern. Such a stance reinforces that the process, so ably taught in the village life, has broken down.

Those of us who continue to express our public concern are treated as the outcast by some. In a strange twist of logic, the voice that represents the majority view based on the evidence is the voice of the sceptic. The question is, why does the truth not resonate with all people? The answer is that not even truth is gospel.

There really is no need to speak to the numbers that make up the Estimates for 2016-2017. It makes more sense to speak to the betrayal of Barbadians, who have been made to sacrifice so much for the country, under the guise that they were contributing to a programme of fiscal consolidation.

Seven years of famine are now being thrown through the window because of the perceived political opportunities that lie ahead. They come in the form of Independence celebrations and the next general election that now take precedence. 

Village life teaches us to “call a spade a spade”. In doing so, it does not stop us from loving but it clearly shows that we are thinking. The process of instilling these two virtues goes hand in hand. But what good is knowledge if we do not teach how it is to be applied? The application leads to a lot more questioning about the usefulness of the knowledge itself.

In this vein, the question is, does village life prepare us for understanding the national politics? But they are so different. On the one hand, love and thought inform the process. On the other hand, the process is about masking the use of love and thought. So there is an inherent contradiction.

Let us seek to apply knowledge to an understanding of the contradiction. It is possible for an individual to love a political party to the extent that he/she avoids thought. This individual is incapable of evaluating the party’s performance not for lack of thought, but love of party. It is possible for an individual not to love a political party to the extent that he/she embraces thought. This individual is capable of evaluating the party’s performance not for lack of love but the use of thought.    

It does appear that once politics intrudes on village life, it presents significant challenges for the villagers.

The question is, what does the politics do to alter the relationship between love and thought? The answer is that it seeks to quantify love and, in doing so, confuses thought. There is no longer the notion of love for village informing decision-making, but rather other matters relating to existence or survival. In short, it is now the gospel according to needs that predominates.

So which needs should be put first: the needs of the village or the political party? Are the needs one and the same or different?

By definition they are different yet ought to be related. The needs of the village are those of the family, while the political needs are those of the party and not necessarily the nation’s needs. The nation is the sum of the villages.

When the family’s needs are not met, it should be easy to argue against the political party. It seems never to be that easy, given the conflict between love and thought.

The greatest danger of all is when the ones with the gift of thought are about self. They compromise the self-worth of the village. But since we were thought to “call a spade a spade”, should we “call a village a village”?

Regardless of where a village is, it ought to be a family. When the village is not a family, politics is capable of fracturing it. 

• Dr Clyde Mascoll is an economist and Opposition Barbados Labour Party advisor on the economy.

Email: [email protected]