Christians must make an impact
Am I missing something? Or did this last holy week pass almost unnoticed?
I wish to contend that Christian holidays should not be based solely on individual worship and private Bible study, as the Easter season, Sabbaths and other holy days are becoming in Barbados.
There is room for personal introspection but there also needs to be greater national support marked by wider respect and observance of these days and more showcasing of the emblems and activities to remind all and sundry that this is a Christian society and not some new-age cosmopolitan centre of religious and moral confusion.
Let’s face it; one could have easily foreseen us coming to the sorry pass of Easter, Holy Saturday, Good Friday and Maundy Thursday not being priorities on this rock. But what caused it?
Has it been the rise of multiple denominations? Is it the very vocal atheistic minority or powerful proponents of the gay agenda who have helped to distract Barbadian Christian thought and stymie it into a new-age view of moral relativity?
Or is it just that most of the young and working population prefer “fun” days to rest from the daily stress rather than holy days (holi-days) where sober analysis of life should be the order of the day?
This is a Christian country – at least that’s what I thought, having been born and lived here for nigh 50 years – and therefore the Easter season, representing the ultimate sacrifice and gift of salvation, should not be toned down amid the din of opposing views arising from the numerous denominations and religions among us.
While non-Christian religious practitioners, whether they be Muslim, Buddhist, African traditional or Hindu, must be allowed to live, conduct business and worship here, conversely, Barbados must be hesitant toward this unholy, politically correct rush to appease or be apologetic to them in a land where our national anthem hails, “The Lord has been the people’s guide for past 300 years/With Him still on the people’s side . . . .”
Who frowns when Phagwah is celebrated or the feast of Ramadan takes place or when those from the ancient order of Nyabinghi gather? Certainly, not average Christians, who rightfully allow others to worship unhindered.
But whenever Christian celebrations are about to occur, there are arguments on call-in programmes and in other media thundering from the lips of atheists, agnostics, other religious adherents and rival denominations within the said body of Christ.
When all is said and done, in a society where several beliefs vie for equal attention and no particular conviction or standard dominates, people will eventually stand for nothing and future Barbadians’ decisions will be informed solely by individual self-interest.
THE NEWS last week that over a dozen international business companies (IBCs) had left Barbados in a two-year period, taking away a quarter of the country’s tax base, was alarming.
If this revelation by the Opposition Leader Owen Arthur is indeed based on a report from the state-owned Invest Barbados, which has a mandate to find and foster investment opportunities, then we could be in even more dire straits in the next few years.
The international business sector, which generates more than half of the country’s corporate tax revenue, is second only to tourism as a foreign exchange earner and therefore cannot be trivialized in an environment where the No. 1 earner is under severe threat.
With Almond Resorts Inc. on the verge of folding, REDjet’s hope of returning to the air looking dim, Four Seasons Resort still some time away from opening and creating jobs, LIAT struggling, tourism arrivals up but spending down, airfares going through the roof, cruise tourism declining as a result of the move by cruise companies to other destinations and with air passenger duties (APD) becoming the norm across the hemisphere, Barbados cannot only cling to tourism for dear life but “play dead” to the international business sector.
That’s why I was initially amazed that in the recent Government Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, the sector’s budget was cut by $8 million. But then I figured that in an election year a major portion of Government’s finances would have to be reserved for the “necessary evil” of an expensive campaign.
However, international business must again become a priority in light of all that is happening, whether or not the sector bears the shadow of former Prime Minister Arthur who would have been instrumental in Barbados gaining its “white” listing under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
We cannot afford to have “dozens” more IBCs leave, taking away millions of dollars that could be life-saving injections for CLICO policyholders, Almond or REDjet.
Is Government giving priority to the legislative changes necessary for Barbados to become more compatible with requirements of the international community, particularly the World Trade Organization?
Is Barbados sitting still while international business competitor Bermuda attracts billions of dollars from Indonesia, Bahrain and other Islamic countries because of the anti-Islamic fears in North America? Do we need to capitalize more on our presence in China?
I could go on but the point is: we need to hold on to the IBCs before it’s too late.
• Ricky Jordan is an Associate Editor at THE NATION.