Nation-building

barbados map flagThe purpose of nation-building is to: “inculcate a feeling of belonging and with it, accountability and responsible behaviour.” (National Planning Commission, Republic of South Africa). At the time this statement was fashioned, Nelson Mandela held the reins of government. South Africa was returning from an abyss of deadly strife and everyone had apprehensions about the future.

While none would claim a perfect outcome, there is no denying that the declaration of intent made a positive impact on South Africa and the world. A key point of emphasis is Continue reading

New Wine in Old Skins

“No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” (Mark 2:22, Matthew 9:17)

vineyardThis parable speaks directly to the challenges being faced in our society as we seek ways to make necessary changes to improve our social, economic, and spiritual circumstances. There are those who make constant reference to “resistance to change” as a natural human condition that will predictably frustrate the best intentions. This results in a “why try” attitude that becomes an excuse for not making the effort or contribution that one could make,

Another familiar refrain is “we have heard all that before” and we are still talking years later about the same thing. This, as though poor implementation is a default position that cannot be overcome. What actually occurs is something akin to reading a headline and assuming you can accurately fill in the details from inferences made about previous experiences.

These and many other avoidance clichés, deprive legitimate change initiatives of the propulsion and resilience needed to achieve a positive, beneficial outcome. Since all of us have an ongoing desire to improve our circumstances, I thought it might be useful to look at this Biblical parable for insight and wisdom that can be applied today.

First, let’s say the “old wine” represents the combination of thoughts, ideas, values, rules and actions that led Barbados to achieving a global reputation for being a good place to invest. It is a recognized leader in political, economic and social stability; along with a highly literate workforce. One aspect of this stability is that you find many people who have long tenure in positions of influence and authority, who over time, keep things at a pace that is comfortable for them and those like them. So in many ways, the “old wineskins include many established traditions such as test cricket, working for the boss, and not delegating authority.

The “new wine” is comprised of those who have endured the system and seen where it fails to recognize and adjust to the new realities. In those instances where they find themselves being forced into “old wineskins”, they are leaking out the sides and voice their discontent among friends, the countries’ customers and others who agree that the old system needs radical change. They lack sufficient authority to create meaningful change. They have seen many examples of those who are too vocal or visible with new ideas being cut down or treated unfairly.

There is a saying that “the first rats to leave a sinking ship, are the good swimmers”. As a result, many who remain are loyal to those who have kept them there are unlikely to generate innovation. Circumstances such as these tight economic times, increased lawlessness and declining customer satisfaction, represent the new wineskins of today. The opportunities come from addressing the needs of the country with compelling actions whose benefits satisfy urgent needs.

This will call for vision, courage and persistence.  There is still much to be savoured from the old and an important place for the new. When Jesus turned water into wine, the first thing the wine steward said was: “it is customary to serve the best wine first”. It’s your turn.

God bless.

Honour Thy Father

This week’s article falls within the influence of Father’s Day. On Saturday, I will attend the funeral of a very good father who was taken from us suddenly. When I asked his widow, who is a friend, what I could do to help, she answered, “pray that God will provide me the strength to endure.”

Honorable David ThompsonWhen I cast my mind back to countless other fathers whose passing would have left a void, I can’t but think of the late. Rt. Honourable David Thompson who left a nation to mourn. His example of being a thoughtful, caring father is what I remember most about him. These men, and many others, made contributions as fathers that supersede all their other accomplishments.

Of the living, Barack Obama is a shining light of fatherhood whether you agree with his politics or not.

I thought it fitting to examine some those things about being a good father that are so necessary and noble. What are things you remember that would resonate in the commandment to “honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12)? What is so powerful that it lasts long after we are gone?

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