Independence Message: Let’s use time to reflect

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Independence message by Bishop Joseph J.S. Atherley, Leader of the Opposition.

Even in the course of our natural lives we find it necessary as well as prudent to stop and take stock of where we are.

As we do, sometimes we recognise that such a pause instructs us that there are some basic things to which we ought to give urgent attention.

This 54th year of our observance of Independence is again a time for thanksgiving and celebration.

We give thanks to the Almighty for blessings numbered and un-numbered on our great nation. We thank Him for sparing mercies from the ravages of storm again this year. We give thanks for the goodness of His hand that fed and provided for us. We are appreciative of the blessing of relative tranquillity across our national landscape. We recognise His favour attendant upon our advancement among the nations of our region and of the world.

We are equally blessed in the positive contribution to national growth and well-being of leadership at the level of Government, the Church, industry, labour, judicial and other institutions, the community and the home. We acclaim the Almighty who has been our guide for the past 300 years. We honour Him who has been our help in ages past and who constitutes our hope for years to come.

A pause for thought instructs that it would be in our interest as a country to go back to some important basics: (1) caring for our elderly; (2) fostering family; and (3) appreciating the value of good parenting.

Recent media exposes and public comments from our medical professionals once again highlighted that we have insufficiently paid attention to the truism that the measure of a nation’s maturity is in part to be reflected in how it treats its elderly and senior citizens.

In this 54th independent year of our national development, there is too oft repeated evidence of systemic failure that allows too many of our elderly to fall through the cracks. We lament the incapacity of the state to adequately provide for this community where needed. We regret the equal incapacity of the church and other NGOs to address more robustly and consistently the problems attaching to this community. We abhor the persistent twin evils of abandonment by family and the abuse of this group in various ways by those whom they trust or those upon whom they are of necessity dependent.

A pause for thought suggests that the viability of the family unit is under threat. This threat emanates from the severe negative impact of our massive economic slide upon households. It emanates from a perceptible deterioration in the moral fabric of our country and in the rising tide of alternative lifestyles borrowed from foreign cultures.

These threaten the moral life of our nation and imperil our value set as a people. We must be sustained in the view that the family is the foundational unit of our society. Anything which imperils the institution of the family potentially undermines our communities and our nation.

A pause for thought raises the query as to whether we do enough formally or otherwise to inform the process and practice of parenting. The view is popular and well founded that much of the social deviance and decline in the incidence of right behaviour among our youth population can be traced to the home unit.

One of the major dynamics operating in the home unit is that of parenting. Yet with the recession of the extended family, the increasing incidence of early parenting, the impact of negative foreign cultural influence on young minds, we still seem satisfied to leave the important matter of good parenting to chance. I insist that we need to construct a formal framework around the business of preparing persons for parenting roles.

This 54th anniversary moment also finds us facing down two very serious issues: Pervasive crime and the fear it now genders in our communities, and the plight of the working class in Barbados.

At 54, a small developing state is still quite in the formative stages of development. That development must be pursued and experienced in today’s world in the face of challenges brought on by global arena economic dynamics; the vagaries of climate change and weather impact upon our ecosystems; cultural penetration and special interests agendas.

These are largely external winds that buffet us. Our resolve to fight them is imperative. The easier battles lie at home. These we must address. We must get back to the basics.

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