EDITORIAL: Let the idea of Barbados inspire us
TODAY IS NATIONAL HEROES DAY in Barbados. While many activities will be held to pay homage to the national heroes, including the lone living one, Sir Garry Sobers, it is also important to remember those who have toiled in this land, and by the sweat of their brow have contributed to Barbados’ development over the years.
There is no better reason for us as a people to then make sure that we do all that is necessary to continue the legacy which has been left by our heroes and our forefathers. This is also a time for all of us to reflect on what it truly means to be Barbadian.
It was the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who explored the issue of what it is to be Barbadian in his thesis: The Idea Of Barbados. It is his explanation of this philosophy of being Barbadian that should keep us in good stead as we eye our future.
He said: “Barbados is an idea which has, over time, become manifest in reality. The idea of Barbados encompasses more than a nation state or a national community. To be sure, it flows from a national community which has been in ownership, not residence, of an especial or particular landscape and seascape.
Still, it is more than this; and it assumes a veritable autonomy as a category beyond the community. The Barbadian diaspora, scattered overseas, has come to draw from this ‘specialness’ known as the idea of Barbados. This idea acknowledges that Barbados is unique, sui generis, of its own kind. It is connected to – nay, derived from – the physical and historical condition of Barbados, yet transcends it.
The unique ‘idea of Barbados’ does not, and cannot, make Barbados immune from the universal ‘laws’ of history, society or political economy. Indeed, the idea of Barbados has been fashioned through a parallelogram of historical forces and contemporary circumstances, global and regional, which have shaped and conditioned the home-grown evolutions, adaptations, alterations and changes.”
More than ever, now is the time for Barbadians to draw strength from the uniqueness of being Barbadian. In these tough times, when workers are asked to produce more, sometimes with fewer resources, when our country’s foreign reserves and credit rating are well below par, and when the moral compass on what is right from wrong seems blurry for some, we need to draw on the idea of Barbados to help us navigate through these muddy waters.
Our heroes, named and unnamed, have led the way and blazed the trail. We must continue on that journey.
Dr Gonsalves left us with these words to conclude his thesis: “We must have faith that the idea of Barbados will endure, but faith is made complete or perfect with deeds.”