“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” – Philippians 2:3-4.
The Foreword of the 2006 UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) states “Human development is first and foremost about allowing people to live a life that they value and enabling them to realize their potential as human beings. The normative framework for human development is today reflected in the broad Vision Set out in the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed set of time bound goals for reducing extreme poverty, extending gender equality and advancing opportunities for health and education. Progress towards these objectives provides a benchmark for assessing the international communities resolve in translating commitments into action. More than that, it is a condition for building shared prosperity and collective security in our increasingly competitive world”.
UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) is a holistic indicator and takes into account: life expectancy at birth (health); adult literacy rate and enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions (education); and GDP per capita (poverty). It is regarded as an indicator of progress towards the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals. Barbados’ HDI position has slipped a bit in the last year but we are still rated # 31 out of 177 countries recorded. The regions with a higher rating than Barbados are North America, Europe, Australasia, South East Asia and Japan. Barbados is certainly the leader among the Caribbean Basin and South American countries.
When this fair land was young, our brave forefathers sowed the seed and we have begun to taste the sweet flavour of harvest. This pride of Nationhood binds our hearts from coast to coast, at home and abroad. Even though we may be proud of our record, there is no reason for us to be so proud that we become complacent. The harvest has only just begun.
Indeed, since we promote excellence we should be always ready to raise the benchmark and challenge for a position in the top ten HDI group which is currently Norway, Iceland, Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Japan, United States, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Our small size may even be an advantage in achieving this if we can get our mind set right. Remember Schumacher’s advice “Small is Beautiful”. What must we do to achieve this?
Over the last two weeks I had an unusually proud feeling about being a Barbadian. Was it the presentation by 3M’s Vice-President for the Asia Pacific Region, Barbadian Dr. Boyce, at the Frank Collymore Hall, was it the play “The Redemption of Sister Dinah” depicting the struggle for independence in Barbados in 1966 at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, was it the country’s progress over the last forty years as a politically independent nation, was it the Independence Awards ceremony at Government House, was it the Barbados motto “Pride and Industry” or was it the UNDP report and Barbados’ relative success? Maybe it was a combination of all of the above.
This thrust me into a mood of reflection and introspection. Reflection in the sense of how well has the country really done compared with how well it could have done. Of course, this can only be answered if one has a results management system in place and on a regular basis, say annually, one measures the actual performance against what it was planned to be. This first of all requires leadership that knows what are the “right things” to be done and management to “do these things right”.
When one further reflects on the “right things” that we have the potential to achieve we have only addressed the tip of the iceberg. Many things that still remain to be done today were clearly articulated at least two decades ago. Yes, the HDI has revealed some success for Barbados, but why are we satisfied with this when opportunities abound. Why don’t we go for the economic kill in the renewable energy, agricultural, tourism linkage and services sectors. Why doesn’t the West Indies team not drive the opposition into the ground when they have the chance, why are we always so anxious to revert to “cruise control” and hope for the best. Herein lies the problem, it is one of “attitude”. We must rectify this.
I then reverted to introspective mode. What is my attitude? What is the attitude of other Barbadians? To what extent are our leaders, whether politicians, businessmen, civil servants, union executives, teachers, media bosses and NGO coordinators, individually and collectively guilty of arrogance, egoism, pretentiousness, false pride and self-importance. I think this is where the problem lies. We must change our attitude. We must aggressively move to adopt a stance of profound humility.
Remember, Human development is first and foremost about allowing people to live a life that they value and enabling them to realize their potential as human beings. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”. Then maybe we shall experience greater growth and sustained success.