Category Archives: Life

Corn Row Controversy

The recent controversy surrounding Mr Matthew Farley’s published comments on Senator Griffith’s choice of hairstyle in Parliament, and the subsequent responses, are instructive for persons offering public comment.

Mr Farley had an opinion on the matter which he submitted for publication.  Those who agreed with Mr Farley and those who disagreed also submitted their opinions for publication.  However, what is instructive is the nature of many of the responses that were unsupportive of Mr Farley’s opinion.

On national radio, terms such as: foolish, ignorant, backward thinking and the like were used to describe Mr Farley.  A sample of responses published in the national press follows.

 “This article was not only shocking to read but indicated a mind preoccupied with superficialities and not with personal worth.” 2 March 2008

“It was a most frightening thing coming from a man who is an educator.” 15 Feb 2008

“Federal High School old boy Farley’s views on the hairstyle of new Senator Damien Griffith are frighteningly unenlightened for a shaper of young minds and I hope he does not pass on his style of argument to his students.” 16 Feb 2008

“He then tells us he understands neo-colonialism “in all its dimensions”. … Then, in the rest of the article, he proceeds to show us clearly that he indeed does not understand these things.” 16 Feb 2008

“The only leap here is Farley’s leap back into the unenlightened past. And now he gets downright ridiculous,” 16 Feb 2008

“It is a pity that in the 21st century a black man, and an educator at that, bears these thoughts about his own culture.” 16 Feb 2002

“However, sometimes in his zeal to ventilate his objections to social developments and cultural changes, the estimable principal breaches the canons of scientific and erudite argument, making us ordinary mortals wish he would check the relevant sources and legal authorities before unburdening himself of anachronistic and uninformed judgments.” 27 Feb 2008

What we have is a scathing criticism of the man rather than a critical review of his ideas.  Even when someone actually attempted to criticize the idea, it seems that they still felt obligated to prefix or append the unnecessary insult.

Why do we respond this way? Why do we feel the need to insult and denigrate each other?  I have determined three principal reasons by observing human behaviour.

The first reason is that it is a way to elevate ourselves.  We can elevate ourselves through two ways.  One is through personal and professional development.  The other is not actual elevation, but relative elevation, and it can be achieved through pushing others down.  The motive appears to be fame.

The second reason is that it gives others the opportunity to experience our misery; as the proverb goes – misery loves company.  The motive appears to be selfishness.

The third reason is to discourage others from trying to accomplish their goals.  The motive appears to be hate.

There are significant emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences for practicing this behaviour, and the practitioner appears to inevitably realize a state of inconsolable bitterness.  Once this state is reached, the only known remedy is for the person to be born again.

It is therefore important that persons desist from practicing this form of communication, and concentrate on educating their audience through encouraging a debate on the proffered opinion.  Trying to embarrass another person into silence educates no one.

Choosing A Career

Dear Readers:

I am addressing this article to students who are in their final year of secondary school and who may be feeling a little anxious about their futures at this time.  People thinking about choosing another career can also benefit.

Choosing a career can be a daunting task.  You may be in the career that you choose for the next 40 years of your life, so you should not choose carelessly.  Allow me to suggest the following selection method.

1.  Identify your Aptitudes First, I would suggest that you identify your aptitudes. They may be several things.  Identifying your aptitudes can be challenging since you must give each subject a fair chance.  Please do not judge your aptitude by the grades that you have received at school; they can be poor aptitude indicators.  A few examples may suffice here.1. You may not think that you like music if you were only taught music theory, but you may excel if you learnt to play an instrument “by ear’.

2. Similarly, you may not think that you like foreign languages, like Spanish, but you may excel if you learnt conversational Spanish.

3. You may find science subjects challenging; however, try reading your science texts from the first chapter until the end and you may be surprised at how easy the subject really is.

2.  Identify your Motives

After you have identified your aptitudes, identify some jobs that you think that you would find attractive.  Write them down and then ask your self, “Why do I want to do this job”. i.e. try to identify your motives. If your motive is principally to make money, then you may have identified the wrong job for you.  If your motive is principally care, then you may have identified the right job for you.  You must care about what you do rather than simply doing a good job and getting paid for your services.

3.  Get some Experience

It may be useful if you worked for a company (it can be a company of one) who offered the service that you found attractive. If they are not hiring, then offer to work for them for one month for free, explaining to them that you see it as an investment (and it is). If you have made that agreement, then DO NOT QUIT!  If you do quit, then that decision may follow you for the rest of your life. If you do not think that you can last one month without pay, then agree to work for one or two week without pay. Remember to explain that you are trying to choose a career, and therefore, you want to work in an environment that will help you to decide.

4.  Ask God to Guide You

Our national anthem states: “The Lord has been the people’s guide …”.  You are one of those people and therefore have the right to ask God for guidance.  However, while God provides the direction, you must provide the thrust and momentum.  The thrust, or the initial movement, is accomplished in the first three steps until you can secure any type of job.  The momentum is provided by you working with conscientious dedication to achieve the highest standards of competence at that job, even if it is one that you do not like.

When you are ready, God will guide you into the responsibilities that He has for you.  Therefore do not hold on too tightly to any one position of responsibility.  If someone else wants your job, then let them have it.  God will take care of you if you let Him.

Best regards,


Heartbroken at Christmas

Dear Readers:

The Christmas event has many characters. Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the shepherds and the wise men. Then there was King Herod who was ruling Jerusalem at the Roman Empire’s pleasure, and enjoying power, fame, and material possessions.

Herod believed the scriptures, and when he learnt that the Messiah was born, he interpreted the scriptures to mean that the Messiah would displace him. Herod therefore did all within his power to kill the baby Jesus. He first tried deceit, pretending to be a worshipper of Jesus. Then he tried murder, ordering the killing all of the male children under 2 years old in the town of Bethlehem and its surrounding districts.

Herod understood that it was God’s plan that the Messiah should come. Yet, he determined to fight against God. While he did not succeed, his actions resulted in the unnecessary slaughter of many babies in Bethlehem. The scriptures descriptively record the emotional state at the aftermath. “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.” (Matt 2:18)

Amidst the joys attending the birth of Jesus, there was to follow the inconsolable pain of parents who lost their children as a consequence of a man fighting against God. Persons who fight against their Creator engage in perhaps the most unnatural and futile act imaginable. Jesus described this futility while referring to himself as the cornerstone. “Whoever falls on that stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” (Lu.20:17) Those who fight against God ultimately harm themselves and can negatively affect persons under their influence.

What is often described as the cruel hand of fate, bad Karma, or unfortunate coincidence may actually be the consequences of persons who are engaged in adversarial relationships with God. The death by a drunk driver, divorce through adultery, cancer from pesticide and herbicide treated foods, heart disease from second hand smoke, sickness from genetically engineered foods, disability from generically engineered viruses and HIV/AIDS, and oppression by dictators can usually be traced to persons who are fighting against God in their selfish quest for pleasure, fame, and/or money.

The friends and relatives of the negatively affected persons can be deceived into thinking that their loved ones suffered acts of God, or that God took them, or that cancer and other diseases are a natural part of life on earth. God did not take them, and cancer and other diseases are not a natural part of life. Those who died or suffered in this manner were probably under the influence of persons who were fighting against God. Those who fight against God will always lose, and those persons who are directly under their influence will most likely suffer as a natural consequence.

It is therefore prudent for persons to remove themselves from under the influence of those who are actively fighting against God. This can be as simple as walking out of a smoking environment, or purchasing organically grown foods. However, sometimes it is not so simple. No one knows when and where the drunk driver will strike and what foods are genetically engineered. Persons can either accept the risks and selfishly hope that their family and friends will not be negatively affected, or they can lobby for change to reduce the risk of anyone being negatively affected.

In the case of drunk driving, the Government can be lobbied to establish penalties that will serve as deterrents rather than inconveniences. In the case of genetically engineered foods, the Government can be lobbied to label such foods so that Barbadians will no longer be forced to eat them.

Those who have already lost loved ones in the manners described in this article may find themselves heartbroken at Christmas, which can lead to a state of loneliness. Loneliness can be avoided by developing new friendships, and the most faithful friend that anyone can have is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Avoiding Extremes

Dear Readers:

Very few people wish to be associated with persons or groups who have had their behaviour or beliefs labelled as extreme. Some popular terms that have been used to describe extreme behaviour or beliefs are: radical, far left, far right, liberal, fundamentalist, and extremist. Most people prefer to be associated with groups labelled as moderate, and for good reason.

There is a risk of negative publicity, victimization, or other forms of persecution if one is labelled as an extremist or belonging to a group classified as extreme. Labelling persons or groups as extreme is an easy and effective way of dismissing their ideas and dissuading other people from seriously considering their concerns.

People cannot define extreme positions in isolation, but in relation to other positions in a community. Communities generally decide for themselves what is normal and acceptable behaviour, and they are better equipped to determine what behaviour falls outside of the boundaries of acceptable behaviour for their community. Depending on the number and variation of positions within a community, it is possible that one person’s extreme right position may be another person’s extreme left. Even within a so-called far left group, there can be far right and far left positions. It is also possible that the community’s entire practises can be determined to be outside of another community’s boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

Therefore defining a belief, philosophy, or behaviour as extreme is a highly subjective practise with no universal rules for making the determination. It has become a mischievous tool used by irresponsible media persons, political activists, academics, and diplomats to dismiss the opinions of various individuals and groups as irrelevant.

Barbados has joined this irresponsible practise of recklessly labelling people and groups as extremist without any basis for making the assertions. It would be useful if their audience had the tools to determine for themselves what views were actually extremist using criteria that can be universally applied, rather than being influenced by one person’s subjective opinion.

Models based on principles is one method that can be used to identify a moderate position. Principals such as “harm”, and “help” can be the two extremes, and “do nothing” can be the moderate position. Testing this model reveals that the moderate position is not preferred if one’s neighbour’s house is on fire. Hence, if the community desires to be labelled moderate, then the moderate view must be the preferred option and it must lie between the two extremes. However, this model can become very complex if it could not be determined whether a short-term response would actually help or harm a community in the long term.

Another method is to define criteria for left, right, or moderate views. The main criterion can be the level of control that a state or organisation has on individuals, or the amount of responsibility that people are given to make decisions. With more state control, there can be less individual responsibility and vice versa. Both the state and the individual can make decisions that do not benefit the community and which can expose the community vulnerable to significant harm. The middle ground is one that balances both the state’s and individuals’ responsibility to the community’s good so that the consequences for significant harm to the community from both state and individual decisions are mitigated.

Both models are sensitive to changes in the political and social environment and would require monthly or sometimes weekly community surveys to determine, through public opinion, the location of the new moderate or middle position. The models are therefore impractical for universal application.

There is therefore no known working model to determine extreme or moderate views, yet persons continue to recklessly label groups as extremist. We may not consider the behaviour of some groups or individuals normal in our environment, but it may be considered normal in theirs. This is evident with some so-called “resistance” organisations the Middle East. We do not know what injustice, real or imagined, that has caused them to engage in what we may define in our community as unacceptable behaviour. Their current behaviour may not be based on facts or reason, but it may be pursued out of a perceived necessity.

What are these groups trying to say? What are their concerns? They are difficult to accurately define. For their views have been dismissed as extremist by influential persons, and their concerns have been clouded by their own propaganda efforts.

My Priorities

Dear Readers:

Twice last week while driving around a curve in the road, I had to brake suddenly to avoid a head on collision with a reckless driver who seemed to have lost control of his vehicle. These harrowing experiences have caused me to ponder the likely content of my final article if I had the benefit of knowing when that might be.

I think that I would try to encourage people to know their Creator. Generations of Barbadians have known Him and millions around the world have inexplicably accepted torture and death rather than deny knowing Him. Like them, I can attest that He is real and that to know Him is a most beneficial experience. This benefit can be sustained by reprioritising life’s activities and responsibilities. Jesus’ teachings can be a valuable guide when selecting and ordering priorities.

Everyone has priorities that help to shape their behaviour. Some are well thought out while others are adopted due to parental, peer, or other influences. It may take years before intended priorities become demonstratable, but that is the goal. The following are my first five priorities.

My commitment to God is my first priority, and my desire is to know Him more and to follow Jesus’ example. My commitment to my family is my second priority, and my desire is for there to be no limit to my devotion to and support and love of them. My commitment to my responsibilities is my third priority. My aim is to consistently give my best to my employer as well as to any professional, social, and church organisation to which I am a member.

My commitment to other people is my fourth priority. My desire is to support and encourage people to mature in all aspects of their life, whomever and wherever they may be. My commitment to myself is my fifth priority. My desire is to remain mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy so that I can fully enjoy life’s experiences.

All of the above noted activities and responsibilities are important to me, and I have allocated some time towards each of them. However, if for example, my family required additional time, then it would not be taken from the time scheduled for a higher priority, like time spent with God.

With God, everything about this life makes perfect sense, and all of the pieces of life’s puzzle seem to fit perfectly together. I wish that I could explain in a logical manner why I choose to make the Lord of all creation the Lord of my entire life. I was not in despair or depressed, or engaged in some unacceptable behaviour that required changing. I was a relatively compliant and contented 14-year-old boy who encountered God, and recognised that a relationship with the Creator of the universe could only benefit the person who chose to pursue one.

I therefore acknowledged my shortcomings, felt God’s love, received His forgiveness, and accepted Jesus’ leadership. There is an indescribable security in knowing that the Almighty Creator of all living and non-living things is on your side and is your friend. There is also an overwhelming desire to walk reverently with Him, and a quiet confidence that whenever you reach for His hand, as a child reaches for his fathers, that God will always respond, especially during difficult times.

I have befriended God for the past 24 years and I know that there is nothing too hard for Him. I am convinced that anyone who associates with the Lord Jesus can only improve. Perhaps it is for this reason why persons who desired a dramatic improvement in their lives tended to associate with Jesus. They included persons who were poor, sick, depressed, emotionally hurt, as well as those with low self esteem, those searching for meaning, and those who wanted a second chance at life.

Since persons can only benefit from a relationship with the Lord Jesus, developing such a relationship with Him should be the logical first step in any psychological or drug related recovery or emotionally healing exercise. However, Jesus is so much more than a life changer. Sometimes the journey may be difficult and unpleasant but there is an incomprehensible sustaining joy in knowing that He is always by your side.

The responsibility of those who know God is simply to point others to Him. Deciding to know our Creator, whose love for us far exceeds any other experience, is perhaps the most sensible and beneficial decision that any person can make. Running from His love is irrational.

Life in the Balance

Dear Readers:

This week, I thought that we should place life in the balance. The question that we will try to answer is: what are we supposed to be doing while we are alive?

We live, have children then die, while our children live, have children of their own and die, while their children live, have children and die and so on. We are encouraged to pursue material wealth and knowledge, and to become capable in various responsibilities while we are alive, and we encourage our children to do the same. But what is really important?

Part of the answer may lie in observing plants and animals in the natural environment. Plants grow, reproduce themselves in seeds and die. Plants do not need to intervene to protect their offspring since the seeds already contain all of the information required to germinate, grow and reproduce provided that the external environment is conducive to growth. Therefore once there are adequate amounts of nutrients, water and sunlight, the plant will grow to maturity and produce seeds with the required information to perpetuate the species.

Animals also grow, have offspring of their own and die. The offspring of insects, fish and amphibians generally contain sufficient survival instincts and abilities to seek shelter and food without their parents nurturing. They may eventually join a community of the same species where they may find a mate and have offspring of their own.

The offspring of birds and mammals generally lack sufficient survival abilities and must be protected, mainly by their mother, until they are weaned; thereafter the family joins the community or group. Some herbivores offspring like sheep, horses and cows can stand and run very soon after birth and thereby quickly join the community. Other animal offspring are helpless, even to the point of being born with their eyes closed, like the carnivorous dogs and cats.

As these offspring of birds and mammals grow, they learn to survive by copying their parent’s behaviour and by adopting the cultural standards of the community. Such standards can include migratory schedules and pace, hierarchical governance, and mate selection. Predators generally target those who do not accept or fall below the standards of the group, like the stragglers of migratory herbivores, or the young who become easily distracted, wander from the group and do not heed their parents’ calls to return.

Animals tend to have strong innate instincts that tend to govern their behaviour. The behaviour of the group is therefore not vulnerable to change under normal circumstances.

Human babies are completely helpless with very little apparent survival information or ability. They therefore require protection and nurturing. They contain very little innate information and must therefore be trained to adopt the cultural values of the community. This training must be done in such a way that the child will be equipped to pass on these values to their own offspring and thus perpetuate the community’s standards. Since children will tend to copy their parents behaviour, parents must behave in the same way that they want their children to behave.

This process of transmitting cultural values to successive generations is not vulnerable to the occasional mistakes that parents may make, since humans have a conscience to provide them with some additional guidance on what is right. However, history has shown that the process is vulnerable to small but influential groups in the community who persistently try to compel the community to adopt different cultural values.

If the popular culture of the community has become unhealthy, irresponsible or immoral, then those who do not agree with such standards seek to promote different cultural values. There is therefore a continual struggle for supremacy of cultural values within all communities, the healthy vs. the unhealthy, the responsible vs. the irresponsible, the moral vs. the immoral, the positive vs. the negative, the right vs. the wrong, the good vs. the bad.

Sometimes the popular culture of a community is dominated by good values, and at other times by bad ones. Regardless of the cultural state of a community, the struggle for cultural supremacy is relentless. We are therefore responsible for teaching and promoting, through our behaviour, good cultural values to the successive generations. We are also responsible for warning successive generations about the consequences of adopting bad cultural values.