FAMILY FUSION: Let us unite, Barbados
And suddenly, like light in darkness, the real truth broke in upon me; the simple fact of Man, which I had forgotten, which had lain deep buried and out of sight; the idea of community, of unity. – Ernst Toller
ON NOVEMBER 30, 2016, the nation of Barbados will culminate its 50th year of Independence celebrations with what has been described as a “bang’, and rightfully so. The festivities must never be seen first as a party-political exercise but a delightful occasion for all Barbadians regardless of their political, religious, ethnic or social standing.
It should be a time when all “loyal sons and daughters” hold hands together and offer shouts of praise and thanksgiving to God for this island’s distinguished history despite the challenges with which it has been faced since 1966.
In one of his scholarly literary pieces, Caribbean-born Nobel Prize winner Sir Derek Alton Walcott expressed some words which I think are both profound and pertinent as we celebrate 50 years of independence. He said, “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.”
I believe that over the last five decades some of the moral and ethical values which held us as a people so firmly together seem to have been hammered to pieces by internal and external forces leaving a trail of uncomfortable social and other fragments on the damaged floor of our nation.
Perhaps it is time that we display the power of unselfish, unconditional love, the quality of which has the ability to glue us back together, so that we can truly affirm that “greater will our nation grow in strength and unity”.
The notion of uniting as a people in going forward after 50 years of independence must begin with each citizen deciding to develop a love for himself/herself. Note I said a love for and not with himself/herself. The latter is selfish, the former is selfless. This kind of unselfish love will cause you to place a high value on yourself where you seek to understand, cherish and strive in a holistic, positive and an assertive way to develop your innate capabilities.
Such an outlook will help you place a strong zero tolerance toward laziness and lethargy and in contrast cultivate a passion to be productive in the social, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual areas of your personality.
Such a personal goal will bring to your life a great sense of stability, security, and sincerity that will mirror itself through your clean character and respectable reputation. Rapper Lilly Singh hit the nail on the head when she said: “Love who you are, embrace who you are. Love yourself. When you love yourself, people can kind of pick up on that: they can see confidence, they can see self-esteem, and naturally, people gravitate towards you.”
Over the years I have come across too many people who express that they hate themselves. How sad. When you do not have a love for yourself, you cannot genuinely love others, hence making it difficult for positive connection with those who are close to you and by extension those with whom you may be unfamiliar.
The unifying effect of this love reflects itself in your not encouraging bitterness toward your enemy. It is no secret that there is much hatred exhibited in and through the lives of people at every level of society, the result of which is often seen in different forms of displaced anger.
It is not easy to love your enemies but hating them will only place you on the same platform from which your adversaries operate. Loving them does not mean that you will become their “buddy pal”, but you will not set out to harm or hurt them.
It is also a fact there are people who, because of their own inner conflict, we sometimes find very challenging to love.
A great spiritual writer who encountered such people once advised: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all individuals.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that the peacemakers are a blessed people. Peace comes out from a heart of love. Let it flow from yours.
I continue to see unforgiveness as a major issue among family members, friends, work colleagues, neighbours and others. This negative emotion adds to the fragmentation of our country. The root cause is obviously a deficit of genuine love.
The domestic abuse at all levels, the acrimony, murders, divorces, separations are just a few of the by-products of the cancer of unforgiveness. Martin Luther King Jr placed forgiveness in perspective when he underscored that “we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.
“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
With the virtue of unpretentious love directing our hearts, as Barbadians we can pick up the shattered pieces of the priceless vase of cohesion so we can be strongly glued together again. Also, having a determination to love ourselves and others, and a heart ready to forgive, we can become a force with which to reckon in a world that seems to be more self-centred than love-centred.
I challenge every Barbadian to resolve to make Barbados more beautiful by not contributing to negative anger, bitterness and hatred which have the potential to further fragment our country. As we celebrate 50 years as a nation, let us see ourselves as “loyal sons and daughters” releasing through our lifestyle the kind of love that will elevate our fellow citizens to a height of excellence that is worthy of commendation. As “firm craftsmen of our fate” let us glow like a beacon in a dark and dismal world that needs the light of genuine love.
Happy 50th anniversary, Barbados.
• Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email: [email protected]