EDITORIAL: Break the chains
IN celebrating our Emancipation last week, Barbadians had the opportunity to revisit our roots and ancestry. This historical review is very significant to our own development and has a major impact on our culture as well. The parade and subsequent festivities should be seen as a meaningful way to educate our younger citizens on how Barbados became the country that we now love and enjoy.
However, our Emancipation celebration may, in several ways, highlight the fact that we are living in a mirage as it pertains to our assumed liberation. We are no longer in chains working on the plantation without respect, education, and nothing to call our own. With our free education system, we have all been given the opportunities that our forefathers never had; to become whatever and whoever we dream to be. We are able to purchase our own homes and vehicles, travel all around the world to see and experience different cultures. But are we truly emancipated?
A simple definition of Emancipation is “freeing someone from the control of another”. But how many of us can, with complete honesty, consider ourselves to be free? Many of our citizens are educated up to tertiary level with qualifications that enable us to get “good jobs”. However, far too many of us unwittingly create other modes of slavery when we make ourselves dependent on handouts from Government and our children are raised to adopt similar behaviours. That mentality is also seen with some of the less fortunate persons, who often fail to grasp the smaller opportunities to make their lifestyles better. A spirit of entrepreneurship has long been touted as the way forward for this island, but somehow, the drive does not seem to exist in as meaningful a way to make a significant impact on the country.
Many Barbadians now own homes and vehicles and proudly show them off to neighbours and friends. They travel annually to the US, Europe and other places around the world and often return with memoirs to be placed around their homes and/or brand new outfits that have yet to be introduced to our shores. However, now that the price of gas or food has increased, they go crying out to the Government of Barbados about their lives being made difficult.
Some live a lie daily as they go about their business, projecting to those around them that they are well off because they live in elaborate houses or drive large luxury vehicles, wear only the latest designer brands and are seen at the most expensive events. Some of them go to every event and pay large amounts of money to show up ‘brand new’ in order to impress others. This week, they might have jumped in the most expensive sections of particular bands. The real truth is that they actually live paycheque to paycheque trying to support these expensive lifestyles and are usually in debt with one or more financial institution as a consequence.
In all these situations, there is a form of mental slavery. Those who fall into these categories have been emancipated in some ways, but not in others. We now have the benefit of education, paying jobs and freedom to do whatever our hearts desire. But how many of us are taking advantage of that freedom? Why should we do our best in life, only to become what we think others want us to be? Why should we be so dependent on the Government to give us handouts, when our ancestors fought so hard to free us from the control of others? Why do we not set out to change the world using the skills developed over time and through our education system?
Let us be honest with ourselves and look towards a new future. A future where each of us makes a valuable contribution to the framework that makes us uniquely Barbadians. By working hard at developing ourselves, we in Barbados can claim a status of being fully emancipated.