Barbados, and indeed the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean, has unwittingly adopted a value system that puts self first before God, nation and family; a value system that is unsustainable, and can put nations in grave danger and contribute to challenges such as rising national debt, and an alarming rise in crime and violence.
As such, reinforcing or returning to the Barbadian value system which made the country ready to become an independent state, is even more critical today.
This was the message delivered by Bishop Jason Gordon on the occasion of the nation’s 51st anniversary of independence, November 30. The full text of his speech was published in Barbados Today, an online news source.
In his message, the diocese’s Apostolic Administrator believed that the commitment to an appropriate value system requires action at all levels: political leaders, business leaders, civil society, families and the Church. “This will take the kind of courageous leadership that brought us to independence,” Bishop Gordon said.
The bishop maintained that without a solid foundation of knowing who Barbadians are as a people, and an acceptance of a native model of development, there will be an unrealistic yearning for the ideals and values of other countries; ideals and values which have no place in small developing countries where community, family and a concern for the common good can yield more than a focus on self and personal wealth.
He referenced Aristotle’s warning 2,300 years ago, that a society that puts pleasure, money or self first will implode into hedonism and violence. “We are at a crossroads. We have to make a choice about our national value system. Which is the ultimate value that we will choose first: God or self? Do we evolve into mature nationhood taking responsibility for our destiny and living to serve Almighty God, or do we continue in a self-serving lifestyle?” he questioned.
God has given us freedom of choice, but this gift of freedom, Bishop Gordon said, becomes destructive if the giver, Almighty God, is forgotten or rejected. “How will we use this free will: to choose excellence in the moral life, or to choose the sliding scale of mediocrity with the threat of corruption which so often follows?”
Bishop Gordon mentioned that Barbados signed The Inter-American Convention Against Corruption on March 29, 1996, in Caracas, Venezuela. Only Barbados and Cuba have taken no further action.
In 2003, Barbados signed two UN conventions against corruption; Articles 8 and 9 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime relating to corruption was adopted on September 29, and The United Nations Convention Against Corruption was adopted on October 31. Only Barbados and Syria have taken no further action.
The bishop added that the opportunity for implementing anti-corruption legislation has been on the table since the 1990s. He said strong, effective integrity legislation should be “promoted and implemented now”, as a matter of good governance, complete with the necessary structures around integrity at all levels of society.
“We have always been a nation which lives the highest ideals of morality,” he boasted.
Ultimately, Bishop Gordon urged citizens to enter into a national conversation about the type of nation they want to become. “What is our value system? Let this conversation dominate the call-in programmes, the water-cooler conversations, the bars and rum shops, the living rooms, the gyms, the educational institutions, the barber shops, the hairdressing salons and street corners, until we find consensus.”