Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

This blog is not a bully pulpit except for those who want to be bullied by what I write. I have written before that Barbados has some serious social issues to do with locals' apparent lack of self-respect when it comes to how they wantonly trash their own country (see "Talking trash" post in May 2007) and the related issue of what to do with garbage (see "Talking rubbish again" post of September 2007). I have a personal vision about how life can be lived and improved and part of it revolves about individuals taking responsibility for making improvements--and from that will come greater improvements for a wider population. As Gandhi says "Be the change you wish to see in the world". With that high-falooting beginning let me get to the pith.

I was very pleased to read two stories from Barbados that suggest that there is some readiness to make a step or two along this path of self-improvement. First, Foreign Affairs Minister Chris Sinckler's remarks about what I have termed the sport of littering (see Nation report). As the newspaper reports it, the Minister was concerned with people "who littered indiscriminately and did not understand that such actions today would affect even them tomorrow". He had driven behind a vehicle recently and was amazed to see the occupants throw a number of plastic items through the windows. Only plastic? Try some cans, glass bottles and polystyrene food containers. This type of attitude and action made him state that it was "a difficulty managing a country like Barbados, particularly when you have a lot of very dirty people in this country".

The Minister's recognition does not mean that he and I share the same views of the world and our agendas may be very different, but we are seeing the same thing, and that holds out hope that we want a similar solution. He focused further on how rampant filthiness is causing problems with drainage. Other Bajan bloggers have written on this topic over the past couple of years, and a good set of commentaries can also be seen on the Barbados Free Press and Barbados Underground. blogs.

I could take the Minister to a few places where I have lived to show some of the dire health consequences of that kind of filthiness has had on drainage problems: a coastline clogged with plastic bottles and polysytrene waste; gullies clogged in the rainy season and producing constant breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitos and other water-borne diseases like cholera, which then continue to take lives unnecessarily each year; flooded neighbourhoods that then have house destabilized, etc. Barbados, basking in the sunlight as the most developed developing country would not like to be compared unfavourably with the poorest countries in Africa, would it? The Minister may want to take the opportunity of his travels to check on this comparison from time to time. That would put a stark meaning to "back to Africa" or "staying in touch with our African heritage". The image building that has been part of Barbados' development has not had enough honest "look in the mirror and tell me what you see" efforts (I wrote recently about the NISE program's inability to produce nice people). If it had, then Bajans would perhaps be appalled to see how dirty their country is, and it's not the fault of anyone other than people who live here on a regular basis, so don't even start looking for some foreign scapegoat.

The second story relates to a vision put forward by Clyde Griffith, who is "dreaming of the development of an island offshore dedicated to the provision of renewable energy as a resource ... an energy island" (see Nation report). For once, in recent months, someone has put forward what seems like an exciting proposition that will help focus attention on the amazing man-made problems of garbage creation and energy waste. I think the idea speaks for itself and I hope that unlike previous efforts to go down a similar route, this does not languish in the wastebasket or someone's pending list for a decade or two.

These concerns have a simple common thread and I hope that they can be nicely tied together.

1 comment:

Jdid said...

this year when i was home realized that every single psa on the tv was aids related.protect your wicket blah blah blah. actually no i lie they also had an ad about not burning trash in your yard.

now not to say thats these two are not great causes but i remember they used to also have psa's about taking care of your own trash and not litering. they need to bring these back

also it wouldnt hurt if government would invest in more garbage cans. alot more! tie them to the bus stops if there is an issue of them being taken or something but put them somewhere where they can be used.