EDITORIAL - Pride of nationhood

Recently in Parliament, Members of both parties recognised and honoured former Governor General, the late Sir Clifford Husbands’ contributions to Barbados.

The glowing tributes paid by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur in particular are worthy of reflection as they recounted his love of and devoted service to Barbados.

As a distinguished son of the soil, Sir Clifford’s actions will be positively recorded on history’s page, but as his efforts have shown – and that of other nation-builders, famous or anonymous – love of country must be a deeply felt motivation to lift our island’s material and spiritual prospects.

Nation building is just not the economy, infrastructure and telecommunications. Though these aspects are very important, they don’t make up the end all and be all. In fact, it is best summed up by the ideal that no one person, party or institution is above the country. John F Kennedy phrased it best when he stated: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

In the early days of Barbados’ independence, this little nation embarked on an ambitious project of self-governance and self-improvement. Investment in our people over the years has boosted this country’s fortunes. We have been blessed with some truly gifted individuals, who have used the chances given to them and multiplied them for the benefit of themselves, families, communities and eventually country.

If we are to continue our blessings, then the baton must be passed on. Nation building means ensuring the next generation is truly appreciative of this little rock that has consistently punched above its weight and – despite its challenges – continues to shine as a beacon in the Caribbean and among small island developing nation states worldwide.

The engagement of young people with their own country’s history is critical. Modern Barbados is the only Barbados the current generation knows; a life of high Internet speeds and hand-held devices. If we are trying to preserve this special slice of Barbadian life, perhaps children should be invited to take a closer look to what it took to build Barbados – what it takes to build it now – from the boardroom to the sugar cane fields. How the hard work instilled in the older generation, mixed with an abiding faith and commitment to God, ensured that our foreparents survived life’s hardest challenges and took the opportunities that became available, whether in education and work on island or abroad.

It is therefore our mantle as we continue with independence celebrations into the month and beyond, that we conceptualise a form of progressive nation building that passes on the best of us to our descendants. Instead of hands outstretched, preach more hands onboard. Instead of only viewing patriotism as wearing national colours, place emphasis on the hard, honest work from persons from all strata of life.

Like Sir Clifford and many others, we too can mark our names on history’s page in an exceptional manner because of our love of country. This is the legacy we must endow to future generations.

Barbados Advocate

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