November 1, 2013
Patriotism is a doing word

Fri Nov 01, 2013

Two public officials recently were moved to reprimand other Vincentians for behavior, relating to the national Independence celebrations, which they felt was inappropriate.

Last week Thursday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Nicole Bonadie-Baker was incensed by the seeming disregard of some of our young people for the national anthem, and for their lack of attention when officials were speaking at the schools’ independence rally.{{more}} Mrs Bonadie-Baker scolded the students about what appeared to her to be a lack of patriotism and national pride.

Then this week, during a sitting of the House of Assembly on Tuesday, member for Central Kingstown St Claire Leacock reprimanded those parliamentarians who did not attend the Independence anniversary celebrations on Sunday at Victoria Park. While Mr Leacock did not use the word patriotism, he spoke of the importance of nation building and the role leaders in our society should play in that exercise.

The outbursts of both Mrs Bonadie-Baker and Mr. Leacock were unexpected, but their comments were on target and perhaps the wake up calls their target audiences and the wider society need at this time. A wake up call, because sometimes in life, we take certain decisions, or simply follow the lead of others, not realizing or caring how our actions are perceived by, influence or affect the wider society.

SEARCHLIGHT does not hold the view that either the errant schoolchildren or the absent parliamentarians are unpatriotic in the sense that they do not love St Vincent and the Grenadines or would not defend it. However, patriotism is a doing word. It is reflected in one’s behavior, even if one does not intend one’s behavior to be interpreted that way.

In the case of the parliamentarians, most of them opposition parliamentarians, their absence at Independence activities is nothing new. One suspects that they do not attend because they do not wish that their presence at these functions be interpreted as support for the government. Hopefully, the call from one of their own to do better will spark some introspection and result in a more mature response to national events in the future.

In the case of the school children, one suspects that teenage self-absorption and disdain for authority had taken over, blocking out everything else. These young people know what are the accepted standards of behavior. However, most of the time, when we observe them slipping, we say nothing. It is our responsibility as adults to guide them. We can be sure that they will not forget, anytime soon, the very public manner in which they were rebuked last week. Kudos to Mrs. Bonadie-Baker and Mr. Leacock for speaking out; we need more of that in this society.