Thursday, April 18, 2024

WORD VIEW – A necessary fault


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In his article Ecce Homo (Behold Humanity), Xavier Le Pichon grapples with the question of the value of suffering in the “evolution” of humanity. Why do we suffer? What is its purpose, if any?
While Le Pichon deplores any wilful abuse inflicted on others for political and other reasons, the writer in an insightful analysis moves towards the conclusion that suffering is a crucial component in the development of individuals and societies: “It is the fragile, suffering individuals who reveal to ourselves our own vulnerability . . . .”
Le Pichon, a geophysicist, examines the importance of weaknesses. Not moral weaknesses, but fragility or vulnerability. He makes the observation that any system, political and otherwise, cannot evolve if it is perfect. He uses the analogy of  the small defaults of crystals within rocks that allow the rigidity to relax, thus limiting the occurrence of earthquakes.
Interestingly enough, there must be a fault or flaw in this process in order to prevent serious upheaval.
Our nation is still grieving. All our heartfelt prayers and wishes could not keep our beloved Prime Minister David Thompson here with us. We must not seek to arrive at too easy answers, but what if it were possible that his suffering and death were the “weakness” or “fault” needed at this time in the evolution of our Barbadian society?
What if  for those of us left behind, there may be lessons of  immense value to be gained from his passing and which could redound to the good of the nation if we pay heed?
We who are not faced with imminent death cannot imagine how the soul must struggle between the hope of continuing life here on earth and the acceptance that that life will soon end. People of faith, however, may have some sense of the peace that “passes all understanding”, which must finally have come as David relinquished all to his Creator, perhaps the ultimate lesson in humility.
Still the question remains: what are we to do with this national and human loss? One thing we are aware of is that nothing arrests the psyche so profoundly as tragedy or death. Our attention is suddenly refocused, the veil of the familiar lifts, everything is seen in clearer definition. Nothing is taken for granted any longer. Even time stops to pay its last respects to the departed.
Much as we grieve his loss, the Prime Minister’s “weakness”, his suffering and subsequent passing may yet prove to be purposeful. The occurrence has brought Barbadians together in a way that his living could not; grief is non-partisan.
Moreover, the late Prime Ministers passing is a significant reminder that the pursuit of ideals is important since time cannot be taken for granted.
David Thompson has left an untarnished record of decency, compassion and humility. Let us imagine that in the spirit of generosity for which he was known, he has also left us  a further national legacy: the remainder of his “threescore years and ten”.  
How precious it would be for us as Barbadians to spend those years doing our utmost to emulate the qualities of one of the finest sons who has lived among us. Barbados is at the crossroads morally, socially  and economically.
This disruption – the late Prime Minister’s passing – difficult as it seems, could be the fault that, on serious reflection, preserves us to a large degree from future catastrophe, politically and otherwise.
• Esther Philllips is an educator, poet and editor of BIM: Arts For The 21st Century.


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