EDITORIAL: Speak Out
At the heart of many of this country's problems lies a self-defeating belief that there is nothing an individual can do and that his/her fate is determined by others, most notably members of Cabinet of the governing political party. It appears though that many are now opening up their eyes to the true way of things – You are in control of your own destiny.
Throughout life in this society people come to rely heavily on Government to solve their problems before attempting to work through their challenges on their own. This has led to a heavy burden being placed on social services. Furthermore, this helpless attitude has spread to various areas in society. Consequently, problem-solving skills, analytical thinking and self-confidence must be encouraged in our youth and our adults. Because, despite this perception of powerlessness, every citizen actually has the ability to effect change.
It is commendable then to see more Barbadians being vocal about the steps being taken to combat the coronavirus spread in this country, with several taking to social media and commenting online at press conferences their opinions about what is transpiring in real time.
The Barbados Labour Party government sought to encourage this last week with a call-in segment in one of their press briefings where members of the public had the opportunity to pose their own questions about the handling of this pandemic locally. While this move should be lauded, the answers provided were not as clear as many would have liked and too few of them were allowed, with the moderator David Ellis having substantially more airtime.
Nevertheless, Barbadians continue to tackle the topic daily and their words have been having an impact, even if it is only a speech made to defend those being criticised. And it has become evident that the social media movement has resulted in several changes; for instance, it elicited a release from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital stating that hazard pay for frontline workers, which had been promised, will be available soon; it pushed the government to improve meals and some processes at one isolation center after a visitor posted content from within its walls online; and it has helped keep those businesses honest, who are investigating contact-tracing amongst their staff and patrons.
While this may seem like a small feat, it is only one way that Barbadians can demonstrate their self-confidence and exercise their right to have a say in how the country is governed, in the absence of a General Election.
Another example of a citizen’s power lies in their right to peaceful protest. Barbados has had few protests in comparison to other countries, but the few have generally been instrumental in showing solidarity behind a cause. One of historical importance saw workers protest a wage cut in the 80s, a move that heralded in a new BLP government after the Erskine Sandiford-led administration.
However, a distinction must be made in light of current events, that peaceful protest, like those to remove Nelson statue in recent months, should not be confused with the violent insurrection that took place last week at Capitol Hill in the United States of America.
And furthermore, at this time where crowds should be avoided, other means of protesting must be explored.
In the final analysis, Barbadians need to have faith in their abilities and resilience and know that they can and will do whatever they set their minds to. Do not wait for Government or any other organisation or group to give you a handout or hand up, or fix your problems. Instead, we need more progressive-thinking, entrepreneurial spirited people to take charge and lead the way. And with regard to COVID-19, the fight is literally in your hands, so wash them regularly, practise social distancing and wear a mask. Protect yourself.