Last Updated on February 20, 2022 8:22 am by Editor
Thankfully, the commotion over the matter of republic status for Barbados will not last as long as the current health crisis. I am very sure of that.
But for now, I am not sure whether our republic will be stillborn or be a candidate for a Cesarean delivery, what with Grenville Phillips’ challenge to the constitutionality of the transition to republic status in the law courts.
Be that as it may, I want to address some of the points raised by Madame Farley and Monsieur (or is it Mademoiselle?) Wickham in two separate articles in the so-called mainstream media. (I hope I have been as politically correct as I ought to be with respect to these gender matters; if not, I ask that someone enlighten my darkness.)
In seeking to address the issues raised, I am aware that I am responding in part to Ms. Farley’s alleged statements as reported by BT’s Kareem Smith. Perhaps Madame Farley will excuse any misunderstanding such second-hand reports may occasion? Let me dive in.
Point of Departure
I am not clear whether the call for “a sharp shift away from centuries of religious principles and dogma characteristic of colonialism …. a parliamentary republic”, is Ms. Farley’s own view or the reporter’s interpretation.
In any event, I cannot think of any country which does not have “centuries of religious principles and dogma” irrespective of whether those “religious principles and dogma” were indigenous to the people and territory or developed as part of an acculturation or accommodation process due to a colonial experience.
So I don’t quite get the reason why we should jettison God because we learnt about him in the colonial period. Is the Lord in our national anthem the British God? Had we been colonized by France or Spain or Portugal would we have a different God? Is that why some of us feel that God has to be a Bajan? Now I get it!
Hand Me the Baby
Is it the case that Ms. Farley wants us to cease to describe or define ourselves as a Christian country simply because we have a mixture of different religions: Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc in Barbados? Why is becoming a republic an appropriate point at which to do so? Has not the arrangement of tolerance worked well so far?
Should any of the Muslim countries (most of which were also under Muslim colonial powers) define themselves as something else because they now have a mixture of Christians and other religious groups in the country?
What does it mean to be a Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Jewish society? Do we mean that everyone in that society is a practising follower of that religion? Surely it does not!
And what is meant by the phrase “sharp shift away”? Is it that at the stroke of midnight on 30/11 – if indeed the republic is birthed then – that we should instantly be transformed, in the twinkling of an eye and live happily thereafter with our new humanist god?
Barbados Uh Come From
Ironically, it does seem to me that Ms. Farley and the humanists have already addressed one of their primary issues themselves. The answer is “tolerance”. And by their own admission, Barbados has loads of it. According to a NationNews item, Humanist International Freedom of Thought Report claims that:
“Barbados is a relatively safe place for non-believers to live in compared to other states that imprison, fine or put people to death for blasphemy”.
We know of such places and were Farley & Company residents in such a place, a fatwa would have been issued and probably executed on their hapless heads (pun intended) long before their humanistic lecture had had time to leave their lips, let alone appear in print!
But Ms. Farley wants more tolerance in Barbados. “Alright, I say I shall go”!
This whole matter of becoming a republic is being blown out of proportion for the naked political purpose and aggrandizement of a single individual. Most of the fuss is unnecessary and is just a smokescreen to obfuscate the real issues of moral decay and the attendant economic fallout in the country.
Given that this is Barbados we are talking about, even if we were to rewrite our names on history’s page, the ink would dry and fade long before any meaningful change occurred.
What concerns most of us, however, is that if we were to ask the Lord to cease be “the people’s guide” then as the Lord has said, and indeed history has shown, we would find our country on the dust heap of time.
Umbilical Cord Too?
The cultures of countries do not change overnight even in military coups. There is always some accommodation, some fermentation, some acculturation; in the limit, there may be ongoing resistance.
Furthermore, there are always countervailing revisionary and reactionary forces at work, the summary effect of which is to cause any change to be merely – and mostly – incremental.
Becoming a republic is not going to change anything that is of great importance overnight. For example, we are an extremely indebted nation and it looks as though more debt is being planned by Le Grande Humaniste herself.
Do the humanists have an answer to that? Christians do. We say in agreement with the Scripture: “The borrower is servant to the lender”. So debt freeness is a value that we should hold dear but do not. Do you all at Humanist International agree?
We who are awake are keenly aware of the “woke” north of us and their influence here in the Caribbean. So, we know that we have a coalition of Facebook-liking, Instagram-scrolling, statue-toppling personas whether here in Barbados or in the USA.
Mindlessly, that coalition of forces continues to throw out the baby, bathwater and umbilical cord too because the IPPF or Humanists International or just some attention-starved historian says it is “cool” to do so.
Having said all of that, however, I do agree that some references to God should be eliminated from the law books, insurance contracts etc. I refer to the phrase “acts of God” by which we usually mean “natural disasters”. I absolutely hate it!
We like to praise ourselves for anything that goes right and blame God for everything that goes wrong when in fact the culprit is either our stupid choices or diablo’s nefarious army.
We humans have been given sovereign choice. However, as I said elsewhere, while we can decide our actions and beliefs, we cannot chose the consequences because they are mostly hard-wired, so to speak, into the decisions.
While we are at it, we can also dispense with the term “Christian name” on our official forms in favour of “forename”. I can certainly agree that the former is an affront to persons of other faiths.
Looking Out and Up
Next door to us is Trinidad &Tobago which has been a republic since 1976. It is decidedly much more multi-racial/multi-ethnic/multi-religious than Barbados. So too is Guyana. Is T&T Christian or is Guyana Hindu? What of religious substance has really changed since becoming a republic?
The real problem the humanists are facing is one of self-serving reasoning; a reasoning that is at the intersectionality of logic and religious belief. So let us reason together using the most basic form of logic, the syllogism.
- The fundamental or MAJOR PREMISE of a Christian or Muslim or Jewish society is that there is a superior being who created us.
- The MINOR PREMISE is that that superior being has standards, requirements, whatever you want to call them, that relate to our behaviour, time spent here etc.
- Therefore, the CONCLUSION is that some things are right and some things are wrong in the eyes of the superior being. Simple enough?
Clearly you can see now why people have to eliminate the superior being from the syllogism and “force” themselves to be the god in the one form or another. In other words, you have to retreat to the position where you want to make the rules and set the moral code for yourself and everybody else.
That is an awesome responsibility! Are humanists really capable of doing that? Are they such perfect beings that they think their morality – rather than the that of the Superior Being – is best for all of us?
Look! If individuals want to be atheists or homosexuals, they are free to do so in Barbados. If they want to reverse polarity by day and then again by night, they are free to do so. If they want to consort together, the current constitution gives them the right to do so. So what is the problem? Where did we older folk go wrong?
It is one thing for individuals to engage in whatever moral practices they prefer. That is a private matter. However, it is quite another for an entire state, an entire country to enshrine that moral practice in law because such an act (pun intended) automatically attributes that moral practice to all and sundry. Does that make sense?
Therefore, must we all be legally labeled as “atheists” to please the minority? Would that not be imposing your will on the majority? Is that fair? Is that humanistic, Farley and company?
We in the Barbados are extremely tokenistic in our behaviour. Being interpreted, that means a lot of us tend to be full of froth, hot air, minimalism and mediocrity. MTW workers best illustrate this national spirit. They measure off six feet of road at 8.30 AM, clean it by 10.30 AM and sit under the nearest tree for the rest of the day.
Like the evil and adulterous (meaning “backsliding”) generation of Jews Jesus spoke about, we need a sign for everything: either we want to add a sign here or remove one there, instead of getting on with the show. How I wish we were like the Greeks: seekers of wisdom!
In Part 2 I will discuss the prickly question of values and some of the other issues raised. In the meantime, I leave the readers to peruse the Republican Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago which can found here.
Dr. Aldon Tull, the author, is a retired educator who holds a Master of Science in International Marketing and the Doctor of Education.
He can be reached at email@example.com, on Whatsapp at 246-846-3191 or on 246-228-3720.