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WHAT MATTERS MOST: Questioning attitude, ability

DR CLYDE MASCOLL, [email protected]

WHAT MATTERS MOST: Questioning attitude, ability

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THERE IS A COMMON THREAD going through the issues of water, garbage collection, health care, sewage, among others, in this country. The thread is the lack of money.

This is fascinating for a Government that set as its mantra: Barbados is more than an economy, it is a society. The evidence is clear that the social services have been badly affected by an underperforming economy.

Sometimes, it is possible to downplay expectations because of the lack of ability subsequently discovered. But when failure is accompanied by bad attitude, it becomes difficult to overlook the overstated ability. The Government has combined the two attributes in a way that has caused significant damage to the economy and the society.

The greatest fear is the institutional damage that has accompanied the neglectful leadership. It has reached a stage where reasonable people have started to question the attitude of the Government, not just its ability.

The attitude of silence has so engulfed the Barbadian way that the major institutions responsible for our spiritual, financial and cultural nourishment have kept conspicuously silent in the face of persistent decay.

It is unimaginable that a past Central Bank governor would have dreamt of, far less, failed to host a quarterly press conference on the economy. It could not have happened under the leadership of Errol Barrow, Tom Adams, Bernard St John, Erskine Sandiford or Owen Arthur.

In similar vein, the spiritual leadership has been infrequent in its public utterances on the obvious social decay that has attended the economic decline.

In recent weeks, unclothed men have been trying to raise the issue of morality as part of the future political agenda. This is as laughable as pigs raising the issue of sleeping in clean linen with bed covers and pillows. Where is the moral minimum?

The imperfection in all of us does not lend itself for judgement to be delivered from among us. It is the preserve of the Creator, who gives access through the soul, regardless of our spiritual condition. Our soul is the spiritual identity of man just as our fingerprint is the physical identity, such that each of us has a direct connection to the Creator. How else can sin be forgiven?

Until we embark on eternal life, our moral duty is to treat fellow human beings with dignity and respect. This is especially true of those who have been chosen to lead. No politician has any moral compass to determine the direction of others, especially when the road being travelled by them is fraught with imperfection, irregularities and irrationality.

More than ever, the current Government ministers are putting the technocrats in the forefront to deal with issues that are clearly political. In the water shortage situation that was more evident in certain parishes, the minister responsible for water refused to go to the most affected parishes, one of which is St Joseph. The question is, why?

Is it morally right for the residents of St Joseph to be treated with such scorn, when they make contributions to the public purse and constitute part of the social fabric of this fair land?

Garbage collection is an essential social service that, apart from law and order, must be the most vital service provided by a government. The health concerns associated with the non-collection of garbage are enough to warrant the attention of the political leadership. Is it not a moral issue for the leadership of a country to show concern about the well-being of its citizens, especially in unusual circumstances?

If there is a natural disaster in any part of the United States of America, the president, a very busy man, takes the time out to show empathy. Why is it that the same moral fibre does not inform the prime minister of this country to act in such circumstances?

Similarly, should the spiritual leadership not become more engaged in situations, where empathy is as important as manna? Recently, the zenith of silent leadership was reached when the South Coast sewage problem remained in quarantine, as locals and visitors alike endured the stench and health risk associated with the leaking sewage.

It is as difficult to contain the subsequent effects of ignorance as it is to contain the scent of sewage. They both come from within, but once they ferment, the effects can be lasting. The biggest fear is for ignorance to triumph over sewage.

• Dr Clyde Mascoll is an economist and Opposition Barbados Labour Party advisor on the economy. Email: [email protected]