This year the Grinch stole the Barbadian Christmas. The theft occurred gradually and deliberately, by stealth. Since last Christmas the deft, skilful and silent picking of the Christmas pocket was under way. Now Christmas is gone, stolen by the Grinch.
The Grinch stole Christmas because, though he has responsibility for the whole state, he sees the citizens as competing with the Government. He admitted this when he declared that in this crisis the Government must wear its oxygen mask before attending to anyone else. He forgot that he is the plane itself and not a passenger.
On the basis of this false understanding, not only did the Grinch attach his own gas mask, but he starved the genuine passengers of their oxygen. No oxygen, no Christmas. Having panicked about a crash landing, he has fulfilled his own prophecy and caused panic among the passengers, putting the aircraft in a tailspin.
So now it is every man for himself and the Christmas spirit of peace, love and goodwill to men is now replaced by “check for yourself”. The poor National Conservation Commission workers – abandoned by their union, the Government-appointed tribunal and the Government itself – knew months ago that the Grinch had stolen their Christmas. So, too, do the 5 000 retrenched public servants.
The CLICO policyholders – greeted with news of possible liquidation by the judicial managers and the counternews of remaining life-breath in the company – also know that the Grinch has stolen their Christmas.
They know too that the claim of a Government rescue reads more like wishful thinking than solid policy. Like the University of the West Indies students awaiting bursaries, the CLICO policyholders know too well that despite the Grinch’s promises, Christmas has long been stolen, nowhere to be found.
Similarly, the suffering public waiting for tax refunds as their last hope are now shaking their heads in disbelief that the Grinch has not moved with alacrity to save their Christmas. They are amazed that not even their overpayment to the Government is being refunded in order to facilitate their participation in the Christmas tradition of sharing, joy and laughter with family, neighbours and friends.
Further, not even the merchants, whose role is to supply the material side that nourishes the spirit of Christmas, have been spared the impact of the Grinch. With Christmas stolen from the households, there is nothing to take to the store. Now households, businesses and the economy are expecting a blue, blue, blue Christmas.
Finally, to add insult to injury, the sweet-talk thank-you note left by the Grinch as his yearend promise of better things to come has been torn to shreds by more forthright reviewers from the north pole (Santa’s alter egos), who have warned that the promise of better days will be like gall and wormwood in our mouths.
Hope and good cheer, our only options.
Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org