“Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” – Psalm 139:4-5

Christmastide is a joyous occasion and opportunities for social interaction abound. As this season ends we are thrust seamlessly into thoughts of the New Year. In Trinidad, there is an added dimension, the Christmas spirit transitions effortlessly into the Carnival spirit.

Over the season, I met people whom I have not seen for ages, I met children of my contemporaries who are now seasoned professionals. The crowning moment was an interaction when one of these “youngsters” asked me if I was fully retired. After I described my current activities, his response was “it seems that, far from being retired, you are busier than I am in my full-time job”.

I guess that his question arose because of the notion of “retirement” as a traditionally age-related happening linked to a pension. This, however, does not mean one must necessarily be relegated to a rocking chair. Why should one be performing adequately in a job one day and the next day, on the advent of that magical chronological retirement age, should one apparently have no economic value? If this were so, what a waste of knowledge and experience that would be! If we are blessed with good health, then we should have the option to continue seeking to use our skills to help with the development of the economy for mutual benefit.

Talking about a rocking chair, there is a comfort concept shared in the Daily Word (www.unity.org) which states: “When I settle into my favourite chair, I feel supported. The chair knows my body and has adjusted over time to fit my shape. I don’t have to do anything to receive the strength and comfort this piece of furniture affords me. I simply relax into its frame and allow myself to rest. God’s love, like my favourite chair, knows me and makes no demands on me. It is available whenever I choose to seek its solace. In prayer, I turn within and feel God’s love enfolding me”. 
I would have replaced “favourite chair” with “spiritual blanket” and then would have listened to the “whispers from God” which would address “the ups and downs of life”.

This comfort concept is the precursor to the actions which then become the manifestations of the whispers from God. My 2013 resolution is therefore to listen to the whispers from God and to exercise my free will to take ACTION after ACTION after ACTION. If we each adopt a similar resolution then our collective ACTIONS could redound handsomely to the benefit of the country. If the country wins, we all win! In my opinion, to do nothing, i.e. not to embrace change, is “a sin of omission” and could be deleterious to our generic mission to enhance socio-economic well-being of the populace.

I would be remiss if I didn’t offer once again a word of caution. Vision without Action is fantasy; Action without Vision is folly; neither Vision nor Action reeks of irresponsibility; Vision and Action induce synergy! The vision is the responsibility of both private and public sector leadership; the Action is the responsibility of each and every one of us. Any action which we take will only be as good as the vision espoused by our leaders. If the vision is weak then the impact of our actions is not likely to be as beneficial as if the vision is strong.

In Barbados, we are about to have the opportunity to choose our political leadership. The general election is imminent. Effectively, we have a two-party system and since there is a strong and committed voter element for each party, whatever candidate is presented in a constituency, it is the band of floating voters who will determine which party wins the election. It is important therefore for each party to understand the demographic profile of the floating voters in each constituency and their needs and to promote manifesto policies (a vision) consistent with these needs. The party which is able to innovatively present a vision to meet the needs of the floating voters is more likely to emerge the winner of the election. It is as “simple” as that.

The challenge is for the winner of the election to represent the vision in a solid manner so that together with our actions, the Vision and the Action will induce synergy.

A problem that has been observed under our system of Government is that candidate X might be pursing his/her profession today; tomorrow after the results of the election candidate X may now become member of parliament X; and very shortly after he/she may become Minister X, at the Prime Minister’s favour, and is assigned a portfolio for which he/she is responsible. The chances are some candidates will not be experts in their assigned portfolios but you better believe it they think that they are. The preferred solution, in my opinion, would be for the system to be modified so that each Minister is forced to meaningfully select the best brains in the country to advise on their assigned portfolio and say to them please make me look good so that I have a good chance of contributing to the party winning the next election. The Minister is, of course, urged to take their advice.

May we all take action, based on the whispers from heaven, in the context of the vision presented over the next five years. Happy New Year!
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org).

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