“Have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” – 1 Peter 3:8
My first recollection of the concept of Harmony was as a teenager at music lessons. Harmony was detectable for me more in the breach than in the observance (Shakespeare) but I soon learned that Harmony was the art of using chords in music.
This interpretation stayed with me for many years until Kean announced that the title of her Master’s thesis was “The Theme of Harmony in West Indian Literature”. This gave me a totally different perspective of harmony and then I reflected on statements from our sixth form Mathematics teacher, Mr. E.C. Queree (The Q), when he referred to the “elegant” solution to a mathematical problem; the beauty of the experience of Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Garfield Sobers, Lawrence Rowe, Brain Lara and Michael Holding (Whispering Death) on a cricket field, it was like poetry in motion; my having to write out (50 times) the stanzas of the poet John Milton’s (1608 – 1674) “On his Blindness” as a perceived punishment by a master at school; and the apparently boring periods of English Literature when forced to listen to the work of Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”. All these I now know are examples of harmony.
John Milton: “When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one Talent which is death to hide Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide; ‘Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?’ I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need either man’s work or his own gifts; who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest: They also serve who only stand and wait.” What Harmony!
Shakespeare (Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218-224), Brutus speaks: “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures”. I had occasion to quote this to my two sons recently and their impulsive respective responses were “profound” and “wicked”. Again, what Harmony!
It is this Shakespearean quote that has now broadened my view and has inculcated a desire to cultivate Harmony and Unity of Spirit in the World. There are so many applications in international politics, turmoil in the Middle East, national governance, the local agricultural sector, private public partnerships, building a sustainable economy, our personal and professional lives, where Harmony is detectable more in the breach than in the observance.
The West India Royal Commission (known as the Moyne Commission) was appointed in 1938 and carried out a comprehensive investigation of the social and economic condition of all the British territories in the Caribbean. The Commission was set up in response to the wake of labour rebellions that occurred throughout the region in the 1930s.
The full findings of the commission, however, were not published until 1945, but included the intensification of agriculture through mixed farming, an increase in the sugar quota, and improved imperial preferences. An immediate start was made to implement some recommendations. The British government decided to make substantial increases in the amount of money available for colonial development of all kinds and set about creating a legislative and political framework for change.
Political Independence was ultimately achieved and although we are naturally blessed with 50 percent of our land area as arable land we are still grappling with the problem of agricultural development. It was reported in the press that a white paper is on its way which is the latest attempt to solve the Barbados problem. Once, again we must recognise and take full advantage of the opportunities provide by our environment. Indeed, “On such a full sea we are now afloat, take the current when it serves or lose our ventures”.
We need Harmony in mind, body and spirit and we need a business management systems approach if we are to achieve the objective of sustainable success. There are five business systems that must be well managed:
(1) Corporate Governance (land use policy, macro-economic objectives, value-added business opportunities, smart private/public partnerships, incentive programmes, national agricultural trading system, rationalisation of roles of organisations, rolling strategic and tactical objectives and monitoring national performance on an annual basis, annual town hall meetings to secure feedback and buy-in from all stakeholders);
(2) Marketing (Segment markets and set objectives, determine and implement marketing strategies, adjust unit prices to maximise overall revenue, implement a dynamic public relations strategy);
(3) Operations (Efficient production plans, innovative solutions, execute plans with adequate management and financial resources, mobilise research and extension activities in support of production plans, ensure that ICT, accounting and administrative support systems are in place, monitor performance against plans on a monthly basis, take corrective action where necessary);
(4) Human Resource Development (On-going training and performance appraisal programmes at all levels, retrain staff where necessary, entrepreneurship, high productivity);
(5) Finance (Adequately capitalize all projects, conduct annual economic and financial cost-benefit analyses as are appropriate).
Here’s to the inculcation of unity in spirit and a harmonious journey ahead.